Carnival babies, listen up. There's a clothing line JUST for you. With MerchCarnival you can express every sentiment related to not only carnival season but the Caribbean as well. How dope is that?
Ashlee Douglas, designer and founder of the brand, chats with Coconut + Concrete to give us an inside look.
I personally love all of your pieces! Especially the variety - there is literally something for everyone. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and having family ties to Trinidad, Dominica, and Bermuda, I love, love, LOVE Caribbean culture and love showcasing my pride for my home and the region at large. Especially moving to the states for college, I was homesick and loved showcasing my Caribbean heritage and that's what gave me the idea of making apparel. MerchCarnival started off as an apparel and accessories brand showcasing Caribbean pride on ready-to-wear items. As I began growing the shop, I was learning about all of these other Caribbean-based designers that I loved and wanted to showcase on my shop, so now the goal is to make MerchCarnival into a Marketplace of in-house printed apparel and accessories, but also curated products from Caribbean-made and Caribbean-inspired goods.
Have you done any collaborations with mas bands for carnival?
I have not done any collaborations with mas bands (yet!) but over the summer I did do a mini "pop up" with a mas band in St. Croix for their band launch. It was a different experience and I would love to build on that.
Favorite vacation destination/resort recommendation?
Ahhhhh that is a tough decision. I would have to say my top vacation destination experience was St. Lucia and I always recommend visiting my home, St. Croix in the USVI, if you're looking for a less "touristy" experience.
Yes! I love St. Lucia as well. What can we look forward to in the future from MerchCarnival?
You can look forward to our brand features growing. I would love to feature more designers from the Caribbean and of Caribbean-heritage, so I'm working to add more for the Spring/Summer season. Also, I would love to add more pop up events. Vending has become one of my favorite parts of hosting a business, and I would love to introduce more people to the brand and meet more fans in-person. It's always a great time.
Last but not least, what advice would you give those looking to start an online retail business?
I would advise those interested in starting an e-commerce to plan a lot before launching, so make sure that you complete your business plan. Because trust me it's a lot more than just posting online and hoping for the best.
Major thanks to Ashlee for taking the time out of her busy schedule to tell us all about MerchCarnival. You can show here some love here.