For Michellae Walker, crochet designer and principal of CrochetEyeCandy, crocheting was not an innate skill. What was, however, was her creativity and penchant for thinking outside of the box. It wasn't until her fifth year at the St Andrew High School for Girls that that creativity would be put to good use when she began crocheting. Even then, her focus was not on crocheting but rather on finding new skills she could use to make herself more marketable.
After creating a list of desirable skills, including public speaking, learning a new language, swimming, and of course crocheting, Walker's destiny would be set. Starting as a hobby, she realised she had a knack for it when she began making key rings, headbands and water bottle holders for herself and her friends. The interest in these early products gave her the idea to turn her new passion into profit and continued through her matriculation into the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, where she ventured into making sandals and earrings in her first year. Designing swimwear, one of her most popular items, did not begin until her last two years at the university.
The self-trained Walker's designs have evolved into something she describes as “sexy but conservative”, noting that she aims to make attention-grabbing designs that are flattering to any body type. It's no idle boast. Walker states that she stays relevant, amidst the growing number of crochet designers in Jamaica, because her competitive edge is her creativity and consistently interactive online presence. She notes that customer feedback is an important part of the growth of the business because they are constantly coming with their own ideas, suggestions, and preferences for tweaks to current designs, something she boasts is possible because of her ability to manipulate fabrics whilst crocheting. Some of her more popular designs are the fringe bikini sets, which, she says, have catapulted her brand, making sure to point out the designs' versatility on “virtually any body type”.
Trends also have somewhat of an impact on the CrochetEyeCandy designs, but only when they are projected to last more than six months. Some trends that she's chosen to hop on include incorporating ruffles and flared sleeves into her pieces, which have, according to her, been a popular go-to in the fashion world.
Colour availability, standard sizing charts, standard pricing and product consistency are just some of the things Walker credits for the steady growth of her client base. In a few years, she hopes to see CrochetEyeCandy not only increasing its product output through the employment of other skilled crocheters, but also possibly opening a store outlet in Kingston.