Miss St. Lucia Tourist Board at this year’s National Carnival Queen pageant, Laura Bruce, is truly multi-talented and multi-dimensional. Those who saw her at the pageant would recall her performance – singing while playing the piano. After we came across some of her fashion merchandize this week, the 18-year-old revealed to the STAR that she has always been interested in the arts. Born on Boxing Day December 26th, 1996, Laura is from the community of Gros Islet. Apart from dabbling in the arts at an early age she also got into swimming and as a national swimmer has represented Saint Lucia both regionally and internationally. Presently employed with Bank of St. Lucia, in her spare time she paints and sells custom-made art work including canvas paintings, customized, commissioned hand-painted clothing and hand-painted 100% cotton bags.
Laura told the STAR, “I come from a creative family; my mom is very creative, and so she definitely inspired me. I have never had any formal training in art, it’s something I picked up through practise and from working with different artists. I have picked up different techniques and developed as an individual.” She gets her inspirations sporadically she says, adding “I just love patterns. Things just pop into my head when I am at work, walking on the street, at different points. I can never just paint, I have to feel like I want to.”
The young creative loves bold colours and solid patterns. “I love African prints and I like to centre my work around African and Caribbean culture, the bright colours, shapes, textures which are indicative of Saint Lucia,” she says. Laura told the STAR that she appreciates Luigi St. Omer, one of the sons of the late Sir Dunstan St. Omer. “He is very talented and I appreciate him taking me under his wing and just giving me guidance and direction and helping me develop my technique,” she explains.
“I am a believer that if you have a skill set you should nurture it, you should use it to be able to advance yourself. I have a passion for painting and I have been able to develop it into a successful enough business. While it may not be my primary job, it’s definitely a hobby plus a form of income,” Laura says with a sense of pride and humility. Presently Laura sells her canvas paintings at Cap Maison while her hand-painted bags are available at the newly opened The Yard at Massade, Gros Islet. She also uses online marketing to promote and distribute her clothing and various products.
Laura hand-paints all types of attire including ladies’ dresses, men’s shirts, bags and generally any item her clients would like customized. She has managed to gather useful sales and marketing information through her design business, as well as valuable life lessons and skills, which she has attained through her pageantry experience. She says, “I believe that as long as you like something, you should pursue it and make the most of your talent. You will find yourself at peace doing something you enjoy.” Laura’s top tip: “Don’t let people discourage you, because there are a lot of people who offer advice. When I was first starting out, there were a lot of people wanting to give me advice and it is nice for people to give advice, but I kind of got lost trying to decide what to do. It’s important to find your own way!”
Laura feels humbled and accomplished when she sees others wearing her designs. “I work in my bedroom at a little desk and honestly every time I see my work on someone or on display, I feel good because you don’t really appreciate the beauty of the piece until you see it in another setting.” This young lady is living proof that one can take a natural talent and develop it into an income-earning initiative or business while developing one’s unique specialties.