Her mission is to “empower women, one illustration at a time”. And with the current pandemic, it has never been more important to provide support to and uplift our women.
Jamaican designer and illustrator Ayanna Dixon has shifted the focus of her operations to meet the current demand of masks for the population. But while the creative is ensuring the safety and comfort of her customers by using 100 per cent breathable cotton, she has also gone the extra mile of adding her unique and timeless illustrations, boosting both style and confidence.
In explaining her signature ‘eyes’ that are displayed on each mask, Dixon brought us back to the Art Institute of New York. “I could not draw eyes,” she chuckled. On the verge of failing her course because her pieces were seen as incomplete, she was saved by the ‘subway gods’ one afternoon. “I was doing my assignment on the subway, and it stopped suddenly, and then I had a long eyelash, and from then, I started drawing long eyelashes, and I became the eyelash girl,” she said.
With curfews and strict social-distancing rules crippling the social scene, this creative is definitely feeling the crunch. While she has managed to get out orders made before the restrictions, business has slowed down significantly. Dixon attributes this to the uncertainty that looms as the nation deals with the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“People aren’t really sure about money, so they are not interested in spending on outfits. They are being cautious about their spending right now,” she told the Flair.
Dixon started ASD in 2010 and has creatively found her way into the closets of scores of women across Jamaica and the world. All ASD pieces are handmade in Jamaica with a very small team. Consumers are promised quality and unique fits that are stitched with lots of love and a little magic. Not being able to thrust herself into her passion, as is the norm, the graduate of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts admits that it is, indeed, a “scary time”. “It’s nerve-wracking for small businesses,” shared Dixon.
She also explained that several small businesses would have been benefiting from the highly anticipated carnival season that would have been in full swing at this time. “I am not a carnival designer, but I benefit a lot from people who want alterations, or they want something custom-made,” she said. Looking forward to the end of the crisis, Ayanna says it is important that Jamaicans embrace their own. “I hope that Jamaicans will look into supporting small businesses as a lot of us are going to be suffering through this season,” she shared.
The visionary is not at all focused on the doom or gloom. She is confident that it will end, and when it does, she wants her colleagues to be equipped and ready to meet the new dawn. “Whatever the ideas you had before, use the time to develop them. It is important for us all to be developing, whether it’s our products, our services, our businesses, and ourselves.”
Story by Tickoya Joseph
Photos by Gladstone Taylor