There are few people who I can honestly say have influenced me, thus far. Of course, my mother is a given; she is an angel to me, and her creativity and perseverance continues to be an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Otherwise, during the 70s and 80s there was an era of Trinidadian creatives who first gave the spark to light my imagination and love of fashion design, the arts and journalism.
This is a 'borrowed' image of two such people...
To the right is Meiling Esau, the designer who is a veritable fashion legend across the West Indies. The Meiling I know only wears austere black with cat-eye spectacles, runs a revered label, and does hand-beading on embroidery work like it's no one's business.
Don't believe me? Check the detailing on my wedding dress, for proof.
The woman in this image, however, is from a different time; for one, the now-trademark black is nowhere to be seen.
This Meiling seems fresh-faced, somewhat carefree, and probably at the onset of what would eventually become a lengthy and - I presume - rewarding career as a designer.
In some ways, it almost seems like an image of a completely different person.
But knowing that the two are one and the same - knowing that even on an island where the design industry is comprised of a handful of individuals, she was able to launch and grow a brand that has flourished for decades - was more than enough to give me hope in pursuing the unconventional route.
To the left, is perhaps the best known face to all Trinidadians, that which belonged to the late Allyson Hennessy. What Oprah is to Americans, Allyson was to Trinidadians.
Hers was a knowing voice equally filled with command and laughter, you know, the person whose opinions you listened to and trusted. In fact, for quite some time Allyson's demeanor and technique was synonymous with media for me - I literally grew up watching her on TV.
Although I worked as a broadcast journalist back home for many years before migrating, I only encountered Allyson a handful of times.
Each brief encounter always left a lasting impression, however.
She was a barrel of a woman, and when she hugged you, it was as if you had sank into the warmest of embraces. She'd say, "child, this media ting real tough for young people. Be professional, and everything else will follow - oh, and don't be no whoring ass, either!"
Or she'd wink at you through the crowds at a fete during carnival time, just to let you know she remembered you.
Initially, hers was the sort of career I wanted.
She did everything - and I mean everything - from hosting the local Miss Universe competition, to running her immensely popular midday talk show, Community Dateline, on the now defunct TTT station...
Allyson, Meiling, and other creatives from that period like Wendell Constantine, Peter Minshall, Hazel Redman, Uncle Rikki Tikki, Lisa Wickham, Auntie Noble, naughty old Boscoe Holder and so many others inspired me then, and continue to inspire me now.
Even if I may only pop around to the islands once in a blue moon, the influences persist...
NB Image Courtesy Meiling