Chair of BTVI’s Fashion programme, Kathy Pinder, take a moment to smile for the camera while helping a student.
Kathy Pinder was a ‘creative’ way before the term became popular. In fact, she began her informal fashion design career at the age of 13 while using the remnant fabric from her father’s drapery store.
“My sister was my dummy. I experimented on her and the neighbours. It was my passion. I would visualise things; I even envisioned being a model,” said Ms Pinder.
That passion for fashion was supported by her father, Max Hamilton, who once owned Draperies Etc.
“He was an artist and understood my passion although some people thought it was taboo back then. He supported my dream and fully funded me,” she said.
Ms Pinder furthered her talent while as a student of Queen’s College High School, after which she studied at Bauder Fashion College and American College for the Applied Arts in Atlanta, Georgia then the American College based in London.
For the past 26 years, Ms. Pinder has been a faculty member of the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) and is currently serving as Chair of Fashion for the second non-consecutive time. Throughout these nearly three decades, her focus remains the students.
“Once they graduate, I still work with them. I keep in mind BTVI’s mission statement; I want them to become entrepreneurs. I don’t want to go to the Wendy’s window and see them working. I want them to not only become entrepreneurs, but to employ others. Sometimes I even learn from my students,” she stated.
Ms Pinder explained why it is so important to help her students. “They mean a whole lot to me. I have two children and people gave to my children. Someone gave my son a car for a dollar and my daughter practically went off to school for free. I must help others,” she said.
Besides spending many hours at BTVI with her students, Ms Pinder has her own label: Kathy of Nassau. The fashion designer believes when she creates a piece, she is creating a work of art.
“I don’t just take a client and make a dress. I get into their personality, what colour suits them and the silhouette that best suits them too. I take the attention off their flaws. I even help with accessories, hair, make-up, ensuring they are complete,” she explained.
Furthermore, Ms Pinder spoke of her preferred taste when designing clothes. “I like monochromatic schemes, which is using different shades of one colour and my clothing is tailored. I like feminine twists. I like to make flowers, cut shapes and paint on fabrics. I like to create the fabric, making it original – not anything that is already made up and pretty. It becomes my own,” she said.
Back in 2014, Ms Pinder was one of 14 Bahamian designers whose work sizzled on the runway at the Red Dress Soirée, with proceeds benefiting The Bahamas AIDS Foundation. Her fashion inspirations includes Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ralph Lauren and Alexander McQueen.
Ms Pinder believes the fashion business will always thrive. “There will always be work to do such as brides, mothers of the bride, maternity wear with women showing off their bump, christenings, funerals, birthdays etc. People are really hungry for this type of work. Bahamians are people who like to celebrate,” she said.
Ms Pinder went on to encourage anyone who is interested in fashion to, “Go for it”.
“There is money to be made and lots of opportunities. Find your niche. There is a hope for that dream. People back in the day disrespected the profession. Nowadays, there is respect for it. It was considered menial, but some people who sew can do better than highly paid people,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ms Pinder said besides teaching her students hard skills, soft skills are a must. “One thing I tell my students, ‘You might be good at what you do, but if you don’t have good work ethics, you kill it. When dealing with clients, have good work ethics’,” she stated.