On Thursday December 17th, Managing Director of the STAR Mae Wayne and her business partners held a ‘soft’ launch for The Yard. This new venture comprises four components; a clothing and souvenir store, a book-shop, a café and an open space for small productions – fashion, spoken word, theatre, music etc. Guests who turned out on Thursday evening were pleasantly surprised and impressed by the transformation of the space on the STAR Publishing compound, Massade Gros Islet. They engaged in a new shopping experience while enjoying fine wines supplied by CPJ.
According to Mae Wayne The Yard is an example of what the tourist board and the government always like to say: that every show and everything they do should have a legacy story and The Yard is the legacy story of HOT Couture.
“I invited to HOT Couture a Turkish designer, Oya Soyal, who fell in love with Saint Lucia. So the two of us decided that we were going to fulfill a need in the market in Saint Lucia and in the Caribbean that features people who are inspired by this region, and give them a home, teach them about proper marketing, merchandising and create a storefront for our great artisans. So we conceptualized The Yard as a consequence,” Wayne said.
She went on to explain that the whole concept of The Yard evolved out of containers (literally) and recycled items making it a truly eco-friendly space. “So we have used our palettes, printing plates and containers and we redesigned it to showcase what manufacturing and creativity can do.” According to her, it has been a project that has been difficult to put together but thanks to Christian Brown, the contractor, and Sean Compton who assisted with the design, a special and new creative space has unfolded.
While Thursday’s ‘soft’ opening attracted quite a lot of attention, the grand opening of The Yard is expected to coincide with Nobel Laureate week in January 2016. “The bookshop will be opened then and we will feature only Saint Lucian and Caribbean writers, in addition to providing a really nice space for the arts, for the fashionistas, all of the things which are so precious and not celebrated in our region,” Mae Wayne said.
Oya Soyal, one of the business partners, has many years of experience in merchandising and development, and the intention is to pass on some of the experience to local and regional designers. “So this is just the beginning of creating a home that not just locals wlll come and appreciate, but visitors will come and see it and patronize, because it is a different space,” Wayne explained. “People think of the STAR and they pass us every day,” Mae Wayne said, “but we’ve created a space in a factory, so I think that is what is going to be amazing.
“We are hoping that we attract a mature clientele to a place where you can come and have a conversation, a nice glass of wine, a good cup of coffee. It’s going to be a great location where writers, people like Rick for example, can come and have debates with friends, where we can have readings by Derek Walcott and others too while enjoying what we have to offer at the café. It’s not a restaurant so it will be more things like sandwiches and some Turkish and Mediterranean items because I am originally from the Middle East and Oya is from Turkey so our cuisine is different and there is nothing like it here. And when you add to that some Caribbean flavour, it will truly be a one of a kind experience!”
According to Mae Wayne presently times are tough and right now everyone is looking for something extra for their dollar. “So come look at The Yard; maybe we can feature your stuff; maybe we can promote you; maybe we can help you with your brand. It’s a great place for the general public to come in and enjoy the space, because this is a different place, definitely a different space. They can come and get some printing done, book an ad at the STAR, have a coffee and buy a dress!” The fashion and accessory store at The Yard is now open for business with unique pieces from local and regional designers not available anywhere else on the island.