Mary Cuffy has always been enthralled by iconic images of women carrying and balancing things on their heads. This fascination has inspired the launch of her new clothing brand, Carry Your Water.
Cuffy told WMN, “There are so many images of women, African women especially, walking barefooted along the roads balancing things like buckets of water, bundles of wood and goods on their heads. To me that symbolises their strength, courage and determination.”
She said in the Victorian era, young women were required to balance books and teacups and saucers on their heads while walking to improve their posture.
“It’s all a balancing act, having to deal with daily duties, relationships, careers and social life. In this era where most women are required to work, the ‘bucket’ represents how much a woman can do. A career-driven woman is often judged harshly for her choices and priorities, but a woman is not just a daughter, wife or mother. She is all of the above and much more. Is it possible for a woman to have a successful career, be a good wife and dedicated mother? The answer to this question is affirmative.”
Cuffy, 46, is an educator by profession and is also an author. She writes a children's series – Learning with Lola – in Sunday Newsday.
She said this is the first time she is stepping out of her comfort zone and making an attempt at designing. A fashionista by nature, she said she began her “crazy little” drawings at her home in Sangre Grande during the first lockdown caused by the covid19 pandemic.
“The idea was in my head for some time and I started drafting during lockdown. So far I have eight pieces in different colours. Some are multi-coloured, others are plain with hand-painted prints done by a local designer. I also have one in a red, white and black for the woman who always wants to represent her country.”
She said her pieces can be worn by any woman, as the designs have less to do with body shape and more to do with flair.
“It’s for any woman who wants to step out confidently in something cool. All the pieces are long, but the shoulders are out,” giving it a sexy look.
She accentuates them with accessories from other local designers.
“It’s all about support. My brand supporting other women with their brands.”
Cuffy said her brand will be sold online for now because she understands that many people are concerned about in-person interactions. But eventually she plans to sell from a physical space. At the end of November, she said, her brand will be available from her Facebook page.
“Everything will be at an affordable price. Accessories will be sold separately."
“A woman,” she said, “has a right to dream and fulfil her goals,” and look good while doing it.