CAW Designs brings a modern twist to the Guyanese brand and prides itself on being one that speaks volumes in terms of presentation, finish and class. Each CAW piece is a statement piece, designed by the talented Channey Wong.
The brand was founded in 2009 and has aligned with many local runways including Guyana Fashion Week (GFW). It was at GFW in 2016 that Channey paid for her first line, ‘Tribal Twist’ and was the recipient of the Young Designer of the Year Award. The following year saw her brilliance win a ‘Best Business Idea’ at the Skill Training Youths Entrepreneurship run by the Ministry of Public Safety.
Channey then expanded CAW to include a maternity business called ‘Mommy and Me’ that provides ready-made designs.
A former student at St Stanislaus College, Channey’s journey into the fashion industry began when she and her peers entered a competition called FACTS (Fashion Arts and Student Creativity). However, this was not Channey’s introduction to fashion as she came from a family that was always passionate about fashion and art.
“I’ve always lacked creativity, drawing, arts, fashion, everything … Growing up around talented women in my family, my sewn grandmother, my mom always DIYing and creating all kinds of arts and crafts from the smallest things in the house… made it fun for me, ”he said.
The designer grew to love art even more during her time in high school. Unlike the primary school and nursery where it was only an integral part, art was part of the school curriculum allowing her to develop her skills more and give her a place where she could express herself freely.
After the FACTS competition, Channey found herself working with experienced and emerging designers and artists including the late Trevor Rose, Michelle Cole, Randy Madray, Mwanza Glen, and Clinton Duncan. He noted that it was challenging at first to be able to agree ideas with some of these designers but added that as they grew they came to understand “for every man, his own man”, that they had learned to accept each other’s ideas. Since then they have built respectful relationships.
“Fashion is not just a career for me,” says Channey, “it’s a way of life. It’s part of my daily life. I wake up, I breathe, you talk, everything deals with fashion.
“When you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life … Yes, the fashion industry has its challenges. It has many challenges: finance, sourcing materials, locals don’t support as much as they would for international designer brands but it’s about how you market yourself and who your target market is . For me, my clients would be people who love art because that’s how I express myself. We do a lot of hand designs on clothes. I would try to use natural materials like cotton … Anyone who is ready, regardless of age, size, I offer plus size women’s clothing as well. It is for anyone who is ready and willing to fit himself into a CAW Design. “
The artist further explained that some clients arrive wanting a specific design he works with but would add the touch of CAW Designs. Channey sits down with them and learns about their tastes, body type before she gives her opinion on what design would be perfect for them. However, CAW Designs is not only a reflection of Channey but her team that also includes a seamstress.
When it comes to sourcing its materials, it does so from local shops as it seeks to support as many local businesses as possible. Occasionally, an order may require non-locally sourced material that would result in Channey getting order materials from Trinidad or the US.
When asked if it was always her dream to become an entrepreneur, Channey said she had always planned on becoming a teenager growing up. It has always been important for her to establish herself as a business owner, not only for the many benefits of being her own boss and working on her own time, but also being able to help others by providing employment and being a mentor for people longing for their own businesses. She also provides teamwork knowledge and experience as well as the design knowledge and supports those around her so that they become more empowered.
As someone who always loves to be a mentor, Channey offers advice to aspiring designers: “I would say keep pushing. Challenges are going to happen; nothing comes easy in life. In order for you to be successful, you have to keep [persevering] regardless of the circumstances. ”
Even as she lives her teenage dream of having her own business, Channey is still looking forward to the day when CAW Designs becomes an international brand.
As the mother of a two-year-old son, Channey knows full well what a woman’s purpose is to be eaten by maternity. Therefore, Mum and I provide a route for mothers to shop for themselves other than their little ones. “It’s about self-care, self-love,” he said.
Apart from being a designer, Channey is also a manager at MBW Energy Support Services, an oil and gas support company owned and managed by Guyanese women.
Channey believes she can balance work, family and personal life with having a helpful partner, and a family who is always ready to break in however they can especially when she is doing pageants or fashion shows. She calls them a support system and adds that without her, all she does could not be possible.
Channey’s favorite piece to wear to special events is the little black dress in her closet to which she always adds colorful accessories for the pop-up look. And, of course, black is his favorite color.
Whenever she can spare the time, she loves spending it baking, traveling, or painting.
She loves to eat pasta, especially Rigatoni.
For a better look at her designs, or to place orders Channey can be reached or followed at https://www.facebook.com/mommyandmegy/ or https://www.facebook.com/CAWDESIGNS/