The Tale of Hopson Park

"You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it's not that simple." - Richard Adams - Watership Down

The unexpected arrival of a rabbit, was the catalyst to my journey of “creating”. Long story short, the guy I was dating told me he was gay, thus withdrawing the dream of having a daughter named Havana, and in a cardboard box, presented me with a rabbit. Charlie “Bear” Park changed my 38-year old carefree, social-butterfly, boutique owner life.

The perfectionist in me wanted to learn all about this lagomorph and I found myself at home…a lot…laying on the floor, studying his language. It is fascinating what we can learn of each other when we don’t make a sound. From this moment, I wanted to forage for fabrics and create designs that described me without having to say anything. Each material had to have history, create their own story, or be environmentally friendly. This process may not be the ideal retirement plan endeavour, yet I find an internal validation more valuable when bringing each item to market.

As I continue to build my website, I will showcase more designs. For now, I start with The Nelson Thorne’s West Indian Readers Tea Towel…the foundation of who I am.

Born in Canada and raised in a small town, I was destined to be different, as my Trinidadian mother was the extra seasoning in my DNA, who made Caribbean music, food, and culture, define me. I was lucky to spend my teenage years on the island of Bermuda, but heart-breaking, had to return to Canada to prepare for college (this is the simple version). To have my Trinidad-island-culture combined with the experience of Bermuda-island-living, melding back to small town Canada, my light switch turned off, I felt like a girl without a country, an outsider. I tried both the east and west of Canada. At 28 years of age, the perpetual dark, rainy days in Vancouver sealed my fate to move to Trinidad & Tobago. This island is where I belonged.

I am now 4 years in to running the boutique, sitting at the glass display desk, flipping through hundreds of online catalogue images of upcoming trends. While compiling inventory orders from these international suppliers, my new found companion, Bear, had me questioning Caribbean people and what we purchase. What are we truly connecting to in the land of mass consumerism? Every time I travelled, I wanted to take a gift that was purely Caribbean without being a touristy tchotchke. The calabash purses were common, but they held no value if no one in Trinidad uses them daily. Online shopping brought the world of products to our doorstep. I wanted to create something that would give the Caribbean girl inside of me goosebumps, that would generate as much interest to the worldwide web of consumers. I wanted something that generations of our people could connect with, no matter where in the world we lived. I wanted something that non-West Indians would enjoy as well.

Everyone in our family had, at some time, a set of Nelson Thorne’s West Indian Readers. As a mixed-race child in a rural town, I knew something was fun and unique about this little burgundy book, with an alphabet that had a cricket bat for “B”. Now I can recognize this feeling as a desired connection, a tribal belonging. Every child around the globe begins their social objective with an alphabet. The nostalgia of this book, this particular alphabet, and the history, is all too intriguing.

In the early 1940’s, J.O. Cutteridge, the self-proclaimed colonial Director of Education for the Caribbean, decided he will write these books for all the islands to purchase. In the 60’s, the charismatic Sparrow, would finally out J.O. Cutteridge in his calypso, “Dan is the man in the van,” for what “they” attempted was “to keep us in ignorance.” I haven’t quite tapped in to why Caribbean people don’t hold on to a bitterness for the obvious old colonial ways. The innocence of me wants to believe it’s the sunshine, the frangipani air, combined with a rhythmic energy that is a catalyst for a healthier way of living.

This West Indian Alphabet Tea Towel has every driving factor to be fun and educational.

It took 8 long years to bring this project in to fruition. And, it feels so good


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