With more than 40 years of experience as a fashion guru, Veronica Ellis has embarked on a new journey of recreating items perceived as trash into works of art.
The seamstress by trade noted that she ventured off into the realm of crafts and it has been a journey that began over a decade ago.
“As a craft artisan, I have been doing craft for many years now since coming to Grand Bahama over 14 years ago, but it’s just been in the last six to seven years that I’ve really put an emphasis into craft as opposed to sewing,” she said.
However, the Empress Palace proprietor said she truly believes that Bahamians have taken their resources for granted, however she opted to make a change.
“We have a whole lot in this Bahamas that just goes to waste. I think the Bahamas is a wasteland, we take a lot of things for granted so after browsing through internet and seeing some of the projects done from recycled items I took it upon myself to say we as a Bahamas must start teaching our kids how to do this stuff,” Ellis said.
The Nassau native also added that she is an arts & crafts instructor at a local community center, which is where she has taken her new-found interest to another level.
“This year we had an open house at the Susan J Wallace Community Center and so this year I wanted to do something totally different for open house. I focused on recycled products…the kids as well as the adults that attend the program were very excited about the recycled stuff,” she said.
“They were very confused in the beginning not knowing what the finished product would look like, but once we were finished with the products, they were made from soda bottles, water bottles along with the pop tabs from a variety of cans,” Ellis continued.
The arts and crafts enthusiast was pleased to report that she was able to create an array of items from recycled items, since the start of her project.
“From these products I have been able to make handbags, jewelry and also teaching the kids to do the same thing we have floral arrangements … something that has to be seen to be believed, we have recycled stocking projects, we have a variety of different things,” she added.
Research and vision was then highlighted by Ellis as a key component of her success thus far.
“Either you have to go online to look at some recycled stuff or if you get the chance and the opportunity you can see what can be done. Where there is no vision, people perish…I give thanks for always having the vision to do things, to see things. That’s why I said for me it’s a glorious thing to make something out of nothing,” she said.
As for future plans, Ellis said that she has already begun her preparations for the upcoming independence celebrations.
“I’ve already started making a lot of recycled items for independence and I think that’s where I’ll put my focus, on recycled items, which will be a totally new product towards the 40th anniversary. I’m also busy because I’m doing the dresses for Miss Grand Bahama for the opening night on stage and the unveiling, which is the 12th of next month,” she said.
She also noted that her modern day marvels must be seen to be believed.
“You have to sometimes see to believe. People to me are going to have to see the products to be able to appreciate what I’m saying and to see how fashionable some of these items can really be,” she said.
However, Ellis also said that this is a good opportunity for students to join the effort by turning trash into treasure.
“We could take the same trash and turn it into treasure. I feel by now we need to start putting some of this information into the schools, she said.
Plastic bags, pop tabs, recycled stockings, newspaper, plastic bottles, coconut shells, fish scales and tamarind seeds just to name a few was highlighted by the visionary as she promoted a cleaner environment by the utilization of these every day goods.
“I think sooner or later we will have a cleaner environment, persons who would feel better about themselves because once you can have a cleaner environment, the whole body and mind takes on that same cleansing and I think things would be better for us as a people if we learn how to utilize and recycle,” she said.
The entrepreneur also shed light on the business aspect of the project, which she said is a venture that shows great promise as it relates to monetary benefit.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, that’s what I talk about when I say make something out of nothing because just as simple as going into the street and picking up tabs off of these soda cans … I have persons coming to me wanting to supply me with the pop tabs and this can become a way for them to generate an income, I call them gatherers,” she said.
“This can be a big thing for the Bahamas; we can go far with this. Once I get a chance to really produce the items that I would like, I would definitely like to see them showcased within the hotels,” Ellis continued.
Additionally, she encouraged persons to take a more proactive approach towards a cleaner environment. “I would like to encourage persons to keep the Bahamas clean, green and pristine and we can do that by recycling a lot of the items that we just take and throw around. I would like to see the Bahamas become like the U.S. as it relates to recycling. When you go to a person’s house, they have a bin for garbage and a bin for the various recycled products … so I hope sooner than later we can reach that level and separate the trash from the treasure.”
Also topping Ellis’ agenda is classes that cater to upcoming arts and crafts enthusiasts, as she noted that she teaches a variety of different forms of the arts.
“I offer classes that are pretty much flexible according to when the person would be available. I teach them either straw plaiting, bag making, shell craft, jewelry making, plastic canvas, coconut craft, basic craft, pattern making, advance sewing and crocheting,” she said.
The Empress Palace owner said she is developing new and exciting ideas for the upcoming independence celebrations.
“As you know, our 40th anniversary of independence is coming up and I have a lot planned for that time. I’m currently working on getting everything together so that I can be ready to give the customers something they can truly appreciate and something that is authentically made,” Ellis said.
By Ashley Penn
Freeport News Reporter