He was the son of designers, so there is no exaggeration when he says, “I’ve been in the business all my life”.

The St. Lucian designer Shazi Chalon, has made a name for himself in the shopping Mecca, New York and recently returned home to make his business base. His clothing store “Shazi” was named after his daughters Shakeira and Zinzi, and specializes in Afrocentric and Caribbean designs and prints.

Shazi started out designing and making handbags in New York in 1990, having been in the US for about three years by then and familiar with the trends. As most entrepreneurs, he started off with a handful of buyers and eventually expanded his business to a wholesale manufactures of originally designed bags. Also skilled in sewing and costume making, Shazi maximized opportunities to market shows – particularly African American.

Through such marketing, he was able to increase at the customer base as well as the variety of products that he manufactured – garments, being a sensible addition at the time. His clothing line was as successful as his other products, with his buyers including stores such as Macy’s. Shazi was on his way.

In spite of his success in the US, Shazi longer dot return home. On returning to St. Lucia, he was pleased that people “warmed up” to his style of clothing, and is appreciative of the support he has received locally since then. He was also found following on the regional market including Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados and especially Martinique where his specialized linens have received a “fantastic response”.

A socially conscious businessman, Shazi recognizes the impact of the looming social problems on the local business and the economy in general. In his opinion, “the vestiges of colonialism” still holds us back from achieving our potential – a mindset of dependence. He adds that although there have been huge strides in education, it is not effective without productivity.

For his part, he has got involved in the Youth Skills Training Program through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, offering his time and expertise for the development of creative skills in interested young persons. It is his hope that through such training, these young persons can find employment and contribute to the country’s development by producing a number of items that we are currently importing and losing out on.

Featured in Shazi’s Jazz line up – a collection designed with the Jazz feel in mind. His intent is to increase the involvement of the fashion industry in the Jazz Festival, for the exposure of local designers, as well as to create a new avenue for tourist interest.
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