In St Lucia, the name Compton speaks volumes, so let’s meet this week’s “Woman of the week” Fiona Compton, the daughter of “Father of our nation”, the late Sir John Compton and Lady Janice Compton.
In her own words, this is how she described herself: “Mother, fashion artist, photographer, filmmaker. Many people describe me as a free spirit. I personally don’t feel like I am. I do things to make me happy. Being creative makes me happy, laughing makes me happy, sharing makes me happy, trying to make my surroundings better makes me happy. All these things encompass my personality, whether you want to call that free spirited or not, I just try my best to enjoy life.”
To the world, she is all of that, with a dash of crazy, a tonne of fun and a barrel of laughs.
She also has a heap of humility, heart, bravery and inspiration thrown in …she is undoubtedly a major Shero all day, everyday.
Of the many hats that she wears, Compton is the creator of Paradise Prints fashion label where she injects tropical or African inspired life into plain outfits. A lot of her works is St. Lucian inspired with the flower “Bird of Paradise” being her trademark print.
Of the label that has achieved raving and award winning success regionally and internationally, she said it was one big accident, but a good one.
The designer said: “I always loved painting and did it as a hobby and on some pieces of clothes for myself. I worked for five years for the second largest publishing house in the UK where I travelled all over the country and to Europe photographing heads of banks and major corporations. It sounds like a dream job for some, but it killed my creativity…I had to do things on the side not to feed my pockets but to feed my soul. I was also too scared to leave my job.
“ It was a period of a double dip recession and I felt like I couldn’t afford to just quit. Fortunately, God made the decision for me and I was made redundant. When my boss told me I was losing my job I started laughing. He thought I was crazy, I’m sure, but I was happy to be released from something that wasn’t the vision that I had for myself. With that I took some time off and came home with my son for a while, and one day I wore one of my old dresses I had painted three years before. Everyone complimented me and asked where they could get one. So very apprehensively I made a Facebook post offering to make the dresses for people, and that is how Paradise Prints began.”
Compton said no matter what, she always wants to represent St. Lucia and the Caribbean wherever she goes because she believes that the world needs to know what we have to offer, as opposed to other countries internationally.
Asked about her many wonderfully brilliant and creative ideas, Compton said: “Ideas come to my head and I just have to do it. It will come to me in a dream or train of thought, or through conversation. And when I have an idea, it feels like its bursting out of my head and I have to let it out.”
She then went on to prove my judgement of her, stating that she is filled with humility:
“My father and mother have been integral in raising us the right way without a sense of entitlement. We never had diplomatic passports because my father said we haven’t done anything for the county to be deserving of it. My father would drive himself everywhere, he would come home after making major positive changes for the country and he would never talk about it. I never heard him boast about anything. He never treated people like they were below him because he was ‘Sir John’. One time this major American investor came to see ‘The Prime Minister’ at his home for an important meeting. When the man arrived, he met a man in dirty ripped clothes cleaning the yard. He asked for my father, the man replied and said ‘One moment, have a seat’ and went inside the house. A few minutes later my father emerged, freshly showered and with a change of clothes…the investor’s jaw dropped because the same man in the dirty ripped clothes, he came to find out, was the Prime Minister. This is what I had to look up to.”
Like I mentioned earlier, Compton serves as an inspiration to so many posts ranging from creative photographs on social media encouraging people to get up and go, to her powerful “Not Asking For It” campaign that highlights and seeks to end the scourge of sexual crime and abuse.
However, being her modest self, she was ever so coy when asked about her drive to be so inspiring.
Compton said: “I get a lot of positive feedback and some videos get a lot of views and shares which is really encouraging, but I could never truly know how much of an impact anything I do makes. In my work I try to be as honest as possible about life. It’s not always romantic and perfect. It’s hard, and I sit and cry alone in my room just like most people who have a bad day. I just want to create work that is relatable and shows that we actually all feel the same emotions and perhaps we all have more in common than we realise.”
Now if this isn’t a woman after your heart, I don’t know what else she is!
With that said, I couldn’t help but go into a fit of laughter when she did like all my WOTW and revealed a secret to me: “I hate caterpillars…especially the black and orange ones. Bring one to my vicinity and I may die. Oh… and I cannot ride a bicycle.”