Juliana Hughes is making her mark as a Guyanese craftswoman

Prior to immersing herself in the demanding pursuit of being a craftswoman, Juliana Hughes worked at several trades.

She served as a teacher, an insurance agent and even ran a grocery stall in the New Amsterdam market for a while. She left Guyana when business in the market began to slow down.

It was her embracing of the Rastafari faith that led her to craft. She and her husband, Wesley George, moved to Suriname where they learnt the creative arts including the skills necessary to produce shawls, hats, tie-dyed fabric and bead chains. Not surprisingly, most of these were produced in the familiar Rastafari colours: green, gold, red and black.

Juliana Hughes

Having spent a decade out of Guyana – in Suriname, French Guiana and Brazil – Hughes returned home where she began to investigate the various other craft-related creative possibilities including the use of seeds for body adornment. By 1992, she was ready to take her talents into the world of commerce.

That, however, was a time when imported jewelry dominated the local market, a circumstance which meant that Hughes had to work hard to market her ‘new’ products. Initially, sales were slow but as Hughes puts it, “time is the master of all things”.

The worm turned in 2006 when the hype associated with the staging of Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean the next year created a marketing explosion as the Caribbean prepared to expose its talents and its culture to the rest of the world. Hughes says that the Cricket World Cup ‘season’ was the beginning of a lucrative creative and entrepreneurial journey for her.

A year ago she set up shop in the Rayon House of Fashion complex on Robb Street. Prior to this initiative, her home doubled as a workshop and a showroom. Still a small producer, her marketing opportunities are realized mostly through fliers and the exposure afforded by the Guyana Arts and Craft Association. Occasionally, opportunities arise to attend art and craft shows around the Caribbean and here in Guyana.

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