Desiree D’Aguiar is determined to make every woman who dons her swimsuit feel empowered to do anything she likes, including showing a little more skin than usual.
She’s a bona fide Caribbean girl and it’s no wonder she fell in love with swimwear design. I caught up with Toronto-based Desiree and she spilled on her company, her background and her successes.
I’ve learned how to go with the flow, sometimes best laid plans don’t come to fruition but you cannot fold because of it. From fashion, I’ve learned that networking is important, as well as self-advocacy, nobody will believe in you unless you do.
Suburban Sassy (SS): Who is Desiree D’Aguiar? What is her story?
Desiree D’Aguiar (DD): Desiree D’Aguiar is a Caribbean girl, I was born in Toronto Canada by way of parents from Nassau Bahamas and Guyana. My Bahamian mother supported my love of fashion design by buying me a sewing machine at the age of 10, I had her tentative support to forgo Psychology and do Fashion Design in George Brown after secondary school.
SS: Why did you decide to design swimsuits and why the name, Winifred Taylor?
DD: While in school, I hated drafting and designing with woven materials. I really grew to despise it, however with the opportunity to take courses that featured knits and lace I fell in love with swimwear design. I love figuring out how to cut and manipulate the fabric to fit the body perfectly.
The name Winifred Taylor is an amalgamation of Winifred D’Aguiar, my paternal Grandmother, and Sidney Taylor my maternal Grandfather. Both Winifred and Mr. Taylor really shape the brand by what they brought into my life. Grandma was always chic, stylish and well put together which is the epitome of beauty to me. She inspires the overall trendy and feminine style. My Grandfather traveled quite a bit, and rarely carried more than one suitcase, creating multiple dapper outfits with interchangeable pieces, he brings the interchangeable options of each capsule collection to the table.
SS: Your website says that your suits are designed with women and art in mind and inspired by art. How do you find the artists to work with you and when do you know he/she is a right fit for you?
DD: Most of the artists I find are from the internet or I know personally. When I see inspiring art, it’s almost a guttural reaction, I see one piece and my mind races. I can’t explain it any other way, I see the beauty and act on it.
SS: How has your scope for finding artists grew from when you first started to now?
DD: Lately I’ve been approached by artists, which surprised me the first time it happened, he is one of my favorite digital artists so it’s such an honor! I am also starting to move away from the internet, and going to art centered spaces allowing myself to be lost in the art instead of the screen.
SS: When you’re preparing a product for branding, you’re often told to envision who your ideal customer is and yours is women. But tell me about this woman, who is she, what does she like to do and what changes when she meets a piece from Winifred Taylor?
DD: This woman is confident, she stands out and if you were to ask her where she got her outfit she’d tell you the whole story. This woman understands the importance of well-made items and may not consume many fast fashion items. When she travels, she lets go, shedding layers and showing a more skin than she would when in her home country. When she meets WT she knows these pieces can create their own story in her wardrobe, she looks up to the artist she’s wearing and purchases pieces from them, maybe the same piece she’s wearing.
SS: I know you have Bahamian roots and Guyanese can we expect a collaboration with a Bahamian artist soon? If yes, any hints about which one?
DD: No Bahamian artists as YET but I’ll be making a trip in December so you never know. It’s a goal of mine to showcase both Bahamian and Guyanese artists
SS: You’re not in fashion full-time, tell me how difficult or easy it is for you to transition between the two industries. What have you learned from either industry that has assisted in the next?
DD: I may not work full-time in fashion, but everything I do is because of fashion so the transition isn’t hard, the only thing that is difficult is the time spent away from my dream career (but I’m working on that). With my full-time job, I’ve learned how to go with the flow, sometimes best laid plans don’t come to fruition but you cannot fold because of it. From fashion, I’ve learned that networking is important, as well as self-advocacy, nobody will believe in you unless you do.
SS: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
DD: The highlight is so hard to pin point. Everything I’ve learned up to this point to better my craft has been a highlight, there have been many AH HA (followed by an excited scream) moments in my career so far.
SS: What has been the biggest challenge as a black woman opening a business?
DD: Being taken seriously, you won’t imagine the amount of time I get an incredulous look and the “like a real swimwear business”. It has been the most frustrating things I’ve experienced and sometimes from my own people
SS: What would you say to a woman looking to take the first step towards following her dreams?
DD: DO IT, build a team, learn how to lead, but above anything take a first step. You cannot wait for everything to be perfect, do some research and GO!
I can’t wait to see what’s next for Desiree, until then I will be placing an order for one or two or maybe even four swimsuits. Don’t judge me!
Check out Winifred Taylor.