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A royal affair for Dominica entrepreneur

An entrepreneur from Dominica rubbed shoulders with royalty and fashion elite after her products were chosen to represent her country for the first ever Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Vanessa Lissa Winston, founder of New Beginning Gifts and Leathers, was invited to take part in the inaugural event during London Fashion Week. The idea showcased designers and artisan fashion talents from across the 53 Commonwealth countries. Each designer was then paired with another country and the unique looks were showcased at a special reception at Buckingham Palace.

Vanessa, who started her business with support from YBI member Dominica Youth Business Trust, was paired with Meiling, a designer from Trinidad and Tobago, she made a stunning leather corset to be worn with one of Meilings floor length gowns.

Vanessa’s creations appeared alongside numerous other talented Commonwealth designers, including Burberry and Stella McCartney from the UK, Karen Walker from New Zealand and Bibi Russell representing Bangladesh.

Vanessa attended a special event at Buckingham Palace, which was hosted by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and welcomed well-known guests including Anna Wintour, Livia Firth, Nadja Swarovski, Naomi Campbell and Stella McCartney. Vanessa said:

“It was such an honour to be invited to take part in this incredibly prestigious event. To know that members of the British royal family and other influential fashion designers were seeing my designs was truly amazing and made me feel incredibly proud of my achievements. To be in London, go to Buckingham Palace and meet the other inspirational designers has been a definite highlight of my career. Additionally, for my designs to be featured alongside such talent from across the Commonwealth was unbelievable, I loved seeing everything come together.”

The whole experience was one Vanessa will never forget and it has left her feeling even more inspired to do more.

“Since coming back home I have shared my experience with everyone I meet. If I can achieve something like this so can they. I hope my story will act as an inspiration to my children, other women and future entrepreneurs. I want to empower and encourage them to follow their dreams.”

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