Kittana Smith has always had a passion for creating. When most of the other children in her community of Chance Hill District in Manchester were outside playing, Smith would be locked in the house, glued to her scrapbook, drawing and colouring. While at the de Carteret College, Smith took a deep interest in textile designing; batik, tie dye, macrame, and stencil printing.
When she was in fifth form, Smith bought her very first sewing machine, and honed her talent. “I took a sewing machine on higher purchase in my mother’s name at Courts and my life was never the same. I begun consulting my community dressmaker and even started taking on little jobs on my own,” she told BUZZ.
She then decided to expand her scope of designs to include more items. “I did not limit myself to clothing, I found myself designing bags, curtains, jewelry and anything else I couldn’t afford that could be sewn,” she said.
Although it was unquestionable that Smith was an talented designer, when she was about to leave high school, she was uncertain of which career path to take. Up until then, she had resigned herself to a career in architecture. This meant she could still design and earn a decent income. Fortunately her art teacher suggested she attended the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. So she applied and enrolled in 2011 to do a Fine Arts degree.
After graduating with honours 4 years ago, Smith decided to start her designing line-Kittana Smith, “I have identified and established my personal style, techniques, target-markets and even my preferred color palettes. I am now able to design according to a client’s profile but still keep my signature so much that my creations can be easily identified,” she said.
Her aim is make her customers stand out in a crowd, while being comfortable in her pieces.
“The most significant feature of my pieces, however, is that they are ‘culturally’ appealing. I take inspiration from the Jamaican atmosphere, numerous art movements (Fauvism, Expressionism, Futurism), art theories (Formalism, Symbolism, Abstraction) as well as various African cultures such as techniques like batik and use of Adinkra symbols,” she said.
And while she leans towards designing for the Caribbean female body, Smith said she also designs pieces for males as well.
Twenty-eight year-old Smith told BUZZ that she has experienced challenges in trying to establish Kittana Smith, but she has learn many lessons as well. “A. Market, market, market. B. Business not emotions. C. Monetize, everything can’t be free,” she said.
And while it’s always a delight for her when she gets to clothe her customers in confidence with her pieces, placing second place in the Saints Avant Garde competition in 2016 has been one her biggest moments as a designer.
“All the international editors that flew in raved about my collection made solely of burlap. My piece came second of over 20 designers. They’re annual Style Week was two months away. After the competition they called me back to showcase in Style Week,” she said.
Smith’s custom cost an upward of $5000. However she sells bodysuits for as low as $1500.
Her pieces are typically made to order, and can be purchased online via Instagram, or email.
She is based in Kingston but offers local and international delivery.