Today’s Caribbean Encounter introduces us to an innovative concept brought to us by a young and talented Guadeloupean woman. I personally got to know her in college and had the opportunity to experience one of her projects, where I left with… I’m already saying too much! Let’s start from the beginning.
Axelle: Tell us about yourself!
Johanna: My name is Johanna Marillat, I am 24 years old and I just finished my Bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages at the University of the West Indies. I recently decided to start a business: I’m currently the owner of Caribbean Frip’, an online store where I sell second hand clothes. I can be quite discreet but I also have my more outgoing side, depending on the context. I use my style and fashion a lot to express it.
« Fashion is a way for me to express a little more who I am, and my difference. »
Axelle: Can you tell us about your passions?
Johanna: Fashion! I get inspired by what I see, and create my own identity from that. I also like to share my life on social networks. I have a blog where I express my spirituality s a Christian, it allows me to communicate this message, this part of me. I like to sing even if it’s still a little hesitant…
Axelle: You mentioned your social networks, can you elaborate on this aspect of your activities?
Johanna: On my personal Instagram page, I like to encourage in general, I like to be an inspiration, especially for young women (although it can inspire men too).These are messages of encouragement, which push us to always move forward in life, to keep pursuing what we care about, whether it’s a dream, a project, these are also messages that invite us to cultivate faith through videos, or posts for example.
Thrift store? Tell us more!
Johanna: The idea came from a passion: I love to dress up. And I’ve been interested in vintage clothes for a long time. Moreover, my third year internship, which had nothing to do with clothes, took place in a private company and that’s what made me realize that I could become an entrepreneur and create a project. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. That’s how I figured out i could start a business in a field I would enjoy. So I thought about clothes. But the real trigger came from a frustration. I was trying to place an order on Vinted (an online platform to buy and sell second-hand clothes) which we all know well, and works in France and elsewhere in the world, but I couldn’t finalize my transaction: Vinted is not available in Guadeloupe! I was extremely disappointed.
« I thought: « Since we are excluded, we will also create our own Vinted!
That’s how I started to get interested in thrift shops, where you can find pieces that are rarer and « vintage ». It makes your style unique: the piece is just for you!
Axelle: It’s true that in Guadeloupe we don’t have many thrift stores…
Johanna: Yes, but there are still some! I discovered this when I started my pop-up shop project on my university campus. It turned out to be a successful project, which attracted media attention. I really enjoyed the experience, decorating for example. My goal is to normalize selling and buying second-hand clothes in the Caribbean, but it’s a whole mindset! It is not yet perceived as it is in France.
Axelle: We tend to give away clothes we no longer wear to associations or family members, but selling them is a relevant concept, especially for students who sometimes have small budgets, or young mothers…
Johanna : Yes, it is. The idea of helping people in need is present, but my target is people who have a particular taste for fashion. And it’s by doing an introspection on my frustration that I realized I couldn’t get outstanding vintage pieces that fit my style. It is particularly aimed at Caribbean fashionistas like me who don’t necessarily have big budgets, it is an opportunity for them to express their styles as someone in France with the same passion for fashion could do.
Axelle: How did your project give you opportunities?
Johanna: The pop-up store project has opened doors for me so that I can officially launch my business, I have had some professional orientation. Regarding the online store, I don’t have any great opportunities yet as it is recent, I am still building it . The goal in the near future would be to set other pop-up stores. That was the initial goal: to be able to offer on-site sales, but as the budget is small for the moment I started online.
Axelle: Do you have a message to share by opening your e-shop?
Johanna: There are so many! But my message would be addressed to young students or to young people who are a bit lost in their lives as it often happens since we are in a generation where everything is moving very fast and we can be quickly discouraged especially when we don’t necessarily have professional goals. I would like to encourage them not to limit themselves to that. I personally knew what I wanted to do during my last year of study, I had a lot of doubts during my studies, I failed many times and it was only during the last semester of my last year that I was able to find my career goal. Don’t put pressure on yourself, stay focused on your path and avoid comparing yourself. Everything happens in its own time, every human being is different! Finally, do not limit yourself to our position on the world map. Sometimes we think that the project is too big, but we are also capable of doing great things. It is not easy because we have barriers that people from big cities do not encounter, but this should not be a limit, for us. What you care about, do it no matter where you come from.
« I never left for my studies and that didn’t stop me from having my little thrift store! »
After questioning her for 20 minutes, I wanted to look back on the purchases I was able to make at her pop-up shop, which I am thrilled about to this day. We reminisced about the moments she advised me on my purchases, and the moments she explained how she had stocked up on clothes for the pop-up store through donations. I have to tell you, I enjoyed it immensely and I really look forward to shopping from her store again !
Instagram: @amouressence.tv / @caribbean_frip