I recently decided to follow a young fashion designer on Twitter with the handle TheUrbanTiger_. I liked the name and I thought her clothing line looked interesting. To my surprise, she sent me a message! I use twitter but I never really got the whole interaction part of it - until now. I am very proud to introduce to you, my newest creative friend: Shantell Bancroft!
|Shantell Bancroft, the face behind the Urban tiger
Shantell Bancroft is the Fashion Designer behind the label, The Urban Tiger. Born in London to
Barbadian parents she blends the culture and heritage of the Caribbean with a chic London look,
producing statement handmade and up-cycled fashion and accessories. Shantell designs, makes and
hand prints all the garments.
How did you first get involved in fashion design?
I’ve been drawing ever since was knee high as I was brought up in a very creative household. My
mom is a writer and an amazing cook. She would read her children’s stories to me and my sister.
Most weekends my mom and I would bake or pickle onions. My dad was always drawing and loved
photography. There was always music playing in our house from my mom and dad’s precious vinyl
collection. When I was little mom taught me how to hand sew by mending the elastic back onto our
knickers, as well as darning socks and holes in clothes. Around ten years old mom taught me to use a
sewing machine and to knit. Every few months I would start a new elaborate knitting project (always
a scarf) but never finished any. I learned to sew on a 1950’s green Singer sewing machine. So from an
early age I appreciated all forms of Art.
From about age 12 I began designing dresses and bridal gowns. I would sketch on any and everything.
In my teens I worked at a very large department store, if I had an idea I had to get it down. I’d
sketch designs on the till roll paper and plastic bags. I went on to do a B.A. Hons in Fashion Product
Innovation in women’s wear at Kent Institute of Art & Design, now called UCA (University for the
Describe your creative style in 3 words.
Eclectic, vintage, urban
Where does your inspiration come from?
The Caribbean is beautiful. The culture is colorful, bold, sensual and engaging. The languages,
slang and food tell stories. There is beautiful steel pan, fun and uplifting Soca and Calypso music.
The history of the West Indies is vast and its heritage includes a rich melting pot of Amerindian,
Creole, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French and West African culture. All this inspires my work.
The inclusion of all these cultures within Caribbean history is the cause for an allusive ‘Caribbean
aesthetic’. I design in focus on searching and resurrecting it. I want to make this aesthetic visually
distinctive within British fashion. Being from London which is a fashion mecca for individualism, I
wanted to produce statement clothing in plus sizes because designer fashion should be accessible and
enjoyed by all.
Do you work alone or do you have a team helping you?
I design, make, print, photograph and do everything else involved with a business by myself. It would be nice to have a small team of people and not to have to juggle so many jobs.
What kind of sewing machine/s do you use?
I use a domestic Brother machine and a Janome Over locker. (serger)
Who do you design for?
I design for attention seekers, who treat the streets as their catwalk. Women that enjoy prints, have an
eclectic taste, and an appreciation for handmade and statement sustainable fashion.
Do you make custom orders?
No, all items are either ‘one of a kind’ or limited editions.
What do you do when you are not working on your clothing line?
I like going for walks in the park and people watching. I enjoy being creative but it’s hard to make things for
myself when I spend most of my day doing it for the label. But I do enjoy crocheting. I’m working on
a scarf at the moment. I read a lot. I like to draw portraits and I also enjoy making YouTube videos on
hair care and natural beauty.
Tropical Island or Ski resort?
What is your favorite travel destination? (a place you have been and like to return to often)
Barbados. I haven’t had many trips but I am in love with that Island. It’s my dream to live there.
What is your next upcoming project?
I’m evolving the brand, developing my skills and some of the printing techniques I used for Autumn
Winter 12. Currently I’m working on the collection for Spring Summer 14.
What is your advice to someone interested in starting their own clothing line/boutique?
There are many ways to begin a business, but I would advise anyone who is thinking about setting
business as possible.
Attend as many business workshops in your local area. I started The Urban Tiger
blog and YouTube Channel to show what is involved in starting a creative company because at the
time, I struggled to find insightful information on the Internet. I share all the good business tips and
advice I find as well as my progress with the brand.
Research your product and the production process involved in getting it made. Don’t give up your
day job until you’re sure you can make a living from your work.
Work out your wholesale prices then
double it for retail.
Lastly, have fun and be patient, a business is a journey not a destination.
"Unhappiness is the difference between our talents and our expectations"
- Edward De Bono 1993
To learn more about Shantell and the Urban Tiger, follow her on on any of the links below!
Website and shop: http://theurbantiger.com
Youtube Channels: TUTInsideOut and AfroTales Natural Hair Care & Beauty
Until next time,