TWENTY-year old Bespoke Tailoring Programme valedictorian Andre Cournand said he plans to be a master tailor by age 25.
He was speaking on Monday as he and other participants of the One Year Certificate Programme in Ultra Bespoke Tailoring Certificate Distribution Ceremony held at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain.
Cournand, a graduate of Fatima College, said in the programme, he painstakingly learned the value of failure, working long hours, doing something over and over again and being humble among classmates more experienced than him.
He said there were days he felt frustrated, tired and discouraged but he remembered his father's words that nothing worth pursuing came easily. Cournand said the programme could help diversify the economy and revitalise the garment industry.
He told his fellow graduates to prepare for discomfort and that there were no shortcuts to excellent work.
"I learned that the hard way."
He added: "I hope to see you all in your journey to success."
He thanked Savile Row Academy principal Professor Andrew Ramroop for selflessly bringing his expertise back to his country.
Ramroop said the pioneering programme was the first of its kind. He said it was at level-five training (an apprenticeship level) in the UK though the certificate is a level two.
"The primary objective of being able to invest in each of you is the value of what I call 'fashionomics'–the economics of fashion. The opportunities that you have."
He said the ultimate goal was not only to achieve a high level of knowledge but to go on to attain a high level of success.
"The value of knowledge, experience and delivery of excellence is worth far more than any certificate. Take every opportunity to leave an indelible footprint in the landscape of your professionalism."
MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) chairman Professor Clement Imbert said the organisers "went through the ringer" to ensure the programme was properly approved by the National Training Academy. He said 27 people initially registered and 26 stayed the course which was a "fabulous number" given the type of attrition associated with those programmes. MIC-IT provided the venue, support and maintenance for the programme while the Trade Ministry provided funding.
FashionTT chairman Jason Lindsay said the company built in strategy into the raw talent in the industry to be a mechanism for trade, commercial activity and professional growth generally. He said some of the suits that came out of the programme and were displayed had already been sold.
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon in her address said the graduates had gained a wealth of knowledge and skills.
"I expect that the introduction of these skills will inevitably lead to increased commercialisation, export development of the local fashion industry and a meaningful contribution to the diversification of the economy."
She said some of the graduates had already generated sales in excess of $100,000.
Gopee-Scoon said a Train the Trainers Certificate Programme in Ultra Bespoke Tailoring, Pattern Drafting, Cutting and Fitting would be coming on stream in the upcoming weeks and would be offered by FashionTT in collaboration with MIC-IT and the Savile Row Bespoke Academy.
"The success of the Bespoke Tailoring Programme was the impetus for establishing this Train the Trainers Programme. This will ensure sustainability in the fashion industry, as well as build our international brand that will inevitably be linked to meticulous skills and superior quality products."