Chris Williams (CW): Who is Debbie Hardy? Where are you from?
Debbie Hardy (Debbie): I was born in Jamaica, so I am forever a Caribbean girl. I am also a woman of the world.
CW: What did you do for a living before launching your business?
Debbie: I jumped into Martine’s Dream rather than launched. There was never a business plan written…never a launch pad :). I feel my way I always say. I was being guided too…that became more clear too later however… alignment. Along the path I did many other jobs supermarket cashier, receptionist, model, sales director, stylist…and more. Those experiences all contributed in some way even if it meant “Nope not for me”. They all made things clearer that I needed to do my own shit.
CW: Tell us about your journey to create Martine’s Dream? Where did it start?
Debbie: First I registered the name. Martine is my middle name. I thought that whatever I did it would be Martine’s Dream, my dream…whether I created clothes or sold ball bearings. Lol!
First I created Kou Kou Bean, one of a kind hand dyed and hand painted pieces for kids… then I did women’s tank tops. Then on a dusty day in Delhi while traveling through India Martine’s Dream women’s printed cotton dresses was born, first in words and feeling. So full and busting I was with it after finding delicious fabric in a market, I called my sister Connie and told her “I’m gonna created a line of dresses!!!” I first called it Ililanga, which means “Sun” in Zulu. I did it… and the world became more colorful!!
CW: Do you create all your pieces yourself or do you work with a team?
Debbie: I design my pieces with a super clear vision albeit my drawing skills, with an amazing team who helps me to finish product; three families who are now my family of another land.
CW: Who has been your biggest supporter(s) since launching your business?
Debbie: My biggest supporters have been my Mommy and siblings. My cheerleaders for life!
CW: Who has been your biggest mentor(s) in this industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?
Debbie: Me. Not in industry but in life, with a knowing that I could.
CW: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your journey as an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Debbie: Pour love into and unto yourself. You are the amazing source from which visions and dreams come. You are needed to bring them to life. From you comes everything you do…be good to you. Rest, put good things into your vessel, exercise, etc.
CW: What role has social media played in the growth of your business? Do you believe it’s integral to your success?
Debbie: When I think success, I think joy. The great joy capacity I feel and pour into what I do.
Success in broadening my Martine’s Dream reach and accessibility and immediate translation into cash flow without a doubt social media has played a key role. Also, in the way I decide my visual feel of Martine’s Dream it has been an amazing tool. But I know too that for me it is great to take breaks from it…and to remember the other avenues to connect. It is key to hold close my joy success. The joy in the doing is continuous nourishment… my spirit dances.
CW: What are some of your biggest fears or challenges that you faced when you chose to launch Martine’s Dream?
Debbie: No fear. Challenges? Yes! The first time I shipped goods they never arrived at my doorstep. So, I tried again…using another avenue. Recently my delivery ended up in Germany.
Also, when sourcing or creating in another country, if you are not there in person you might end up with pockets sewn on the wrong side or your specs being totally off, even after perfecting said pieces for years. This has been especially challenging over the last few years. But I’m continuously learning and growing, and have become more fluid in my contingency plans, recreating from mistakes made. Rather than seeing limitations, I see other possibilities.
CW: Where do you go for inspiration when working on designs?
Debbie: Life! LIVING! That’s my inspiration! Inspiration can come from flowers on my morning walk. The color of the sky. A butterfly. Nature. The suns sparkle on the ocean, a feeling! Beautiful people in Martine’s Dream bringing life to their Dream picks, adding their magic to it. I’m forever inspire by the magic of being.
CW: What do you think makes your clothing unique?
Debbie: The magic I bring. I never reinvented the wheel. I do pieces that are familiar, a caftan, a shirtdress, a wrap, a kimono. I put my air into the tires and took it down a personal path, using my vibe, my energy, my story. I moved it in a way that moved me. It comes from the heart. Martine’s dreaming is a feeling really…if you rock it you know.
CW: What is your favorite part of the design process?
Debbie: Picking fabric and combining prints. My heart speeds up. I love it!
CW: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?
Debbie: Joy, freedom, connection, love beautiful
CW: What advice do you have for men and women of color who are looking to enter the fashion/creative industry?
Debbie: If you dream it…go for it. You can do it! speak life into it. Words are powerful…it creates a shaping. Believe in yourself, don’t worry about what else is out there. No one has your specific magic. What is fi yuh cannot be un fi yuh. And always keep your gratitude close. Bless up!
To find out more about Martine’s Dream, follow them on Instagram: @martinesdream and visit their website: www.martinesdream.com.