FL: From creative designer to blogger/vlogger and now podcaster for “NICE-ISH”, take us on the Journey of how you got started and how the carnival culture ties it all together.
TN: Oh, I’m gonna insert a shameless plug here for everyone to go and listen to the “Meet Sha”episode on the podcast. But, in short, this all started after my first international carnival trip to Crop Over in 2010. I was so out of the loop when it came to preparing, and there was only one blog that I knew of at the time to assist, but, it didn’t help me with everything. I made it through my first experience okay but I was looking forward to implementing what I learned for the following year. When I got back, my friends had a bunch of questions because they were interested in going after hearing about the amazing time my girls and I had. So then I thought to myself “hmmm, let me document my experience and share it with them so I don’t have to keep repeating myself.” One of the modifications for my 2011 Crop Over trip was ensuring to embellish my own accessories to make my costume really pop. I’ve been crafting since I was 9 so it wasn’t difficult to figure out.
Designing for myself then turned into me making pieces for friends, and eventually friends of friends. I finally decided to make things official and register my business after strangers would inquire about my designs. At the same time, I was still blogging and documenting my experiences every chance I got. I wanted to upgrade my content so I decided to add even more visuals to the blogging experience by starting my YouTube channel a few years later. This was when I really dove into educating others with DIY tutorials and other educational carnival material. I’m happy to say that providing knowledge to others has been the goal since the beginning, and I’m really proud of that. I had no idea that T’ingz Nice would be what it is today, but I knew that I wanted the name of my brand to be fairly general especially since I tend to evolve a lot, and also get tired of things lol.
FL: What are some things you learned over the years to prepare yourself for carnival, Tech wise, Mentally, Physically?
TN: I’ve learned that I cannot rely on my memory alone for planning purposes; technology is one of my closest friends. Spreadsheets, shared documents and notebook apps make planning so much easier for me.
I’d say the biggest lesson was learning to plan way in advance and secure things such as flights, lodging and drivers early. Procrastination is not your friend when it comes to carnival and it will do damage to your pockets and overall experience.
FL: What do you think is proper ROAD Etiquette for male & females during carnival?
TN: Well, so long as individuals are keeping themselves safe and not bringing harm to others I say wild out and enjoy yourself! Too much money is being dished out to not have a great time on the road. Carnival is bacchanal and there is very little room for being prim and proper. It’s 2020 baby!
If folks are in any type of committed relationship I definitely think it’s wise to have a healthy pre-carnival check-in to discuss a few things, especially if this is their first time doing carnival together. So that etiquette definitely depends on the dynamic of the relationship. Everyone needs to be on the same page.
FL: How would you explain carnival, to someone outside the scene looking to experience the culture?
TN: Carnival is an addicting and unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Caribbean culture while engulfed in an ocean of people working towards one goal…. Euphoria.
FL: What other carnivals would you like to attend that you have not experienced yet, and what sparked your interest about them?
TN: St. Kitts is definitely on my carnival bucket list. Just the idea of bringing in the new year in true carnival fashion has my heart.
Antigua’s carnival is also one that I’d love to experience. It isn’t over-saturated by outsiders and still maintains its authenticity. I like going wherever the crowd ISN’T!
Attending carnival in the Virgin Islands is something I must do as well, especially since that is where half of my roots are. I’d like to visit Tortola to meet family then mashup the road in St. Thomas, St. Croix or St. John.
FL: 2018 & definitely 2019 moving forward everyone is focusing more on their mental health and self-care, What are some ways that you practice self-care and why is it necessary?
TN: One form of self care for me includes being disciplined in my social interactions. I love being at home, and while I am an influencer, saying “no” is one of the best forms of self care. Being out non-stop is tiring for me and impacts my body on all levels. So I ensure I have a lot of what I call “do nothing” time.
Aromatherapy, meditation and journaling for the win! All are are so important to me because they help me center myself on so many levels. Whoever coined the phrase “writing is therapeutic” didn’t tell any lies. Not a day goes by that incense and/or a candle isn’t burned in my apartment. It’s ridiculously important to have that one-on-one time with myself every day (multiple times a day at times) to set my temple up for success. If I’m not right and happy on the inside I can’t effectively help or bring happiness to anyone else.
FL: For anyone looking to get into designing or looking to become a blogger what advice would you give them?
TN: From a design perspective I’d say definitely get your policies and procedures in place before you launch. Research the policies of existing designers to see which of them you would like to borrow for your brand. Start small, and grow with every experience because I guarantee that each order will be a learning lesson. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others for advice.
Aspiring bloggers really just have to start writing. Other recommendations include securing a web host and creating an attractive online space, have a number of articles ready to publish and stay consistent.
No matter what the desire is, never get deterred for fear of competition or over-saturation. Each person brings something different to the table. Styles, personalities and abilities all vary by person. Never let someone else’s work discourage you from accomplishing your goals.
FL: With your Carnival Influence, how do you plan to help push the culture forward?
TN: I’m all about educating and creating shareable content that’s easy to digest. I think that has really become my thing. I love having the podcast added to my repertoire because I get to truly shed light on the “how to” aspect of carnival. I’ve found that both vets and newbies have so many questions about carnival but no in depth resources to refer to, especially if they don’t have the patience or time to read blogs on a regular basis. My plan is to continue educating people not only about the beauty of carnival, but the ways to go about planning and experiencing it with the least amount of headache. Since I’m only one person, I love being able to pull in my peers, and experts so that my listeners have the best educational experience possible.
FL: What aspects of carnival would you like to see improve for the better and what suggestions would you make?
TN: Honestly, I want to see some blazing fire male costume options that are out of the box. This whole shorts, straps and headpiece setup is not doing it for me. There needs to be more creativity in that realm. I understand that “carnival is woman” but there are plenty of men who would love to look their best on carnival day as well. Give them some FL, ML and BL costume options please. Ah beg!
FL: Designer, Vlogger, Podcaster, Whats next for Sha & The T’INGZ NICE brand?
TN: Oh I definitely think I’m staying in this current lane for a while. I don’t think I have the mental capacity to take on anything else AND live my best life lol. But I will certainly be going harder in each of these arenas, that’s for sure. I will say this though, a live, audience-filled Nice-ish recording is definitely gonna happen! I would love to get that popping for the 6 month anniversary.