Keneea Linton George has blazed a trail where Fashion is concerned in Jamaica and the Caribbean. She is executive producer of Jamaica’s version of Project Runway. Which is the first of it’s kind in the Caribbean. Jamaican Divas spoke to Keneea and found out how Mission Catwalk came into being.
You are an established fashion designer and producer now but is this what you wanted to be when you were growing up?
Growing up I wanted to be an actress for a very long time I remember thinking I want to be an actress. That did not happen (Giggles).
What led you to start Mission Catwalk?
I got interested in fashion at a very very young age. Probably at about eight or nine years old. It was always a hobby and finally it became a business and I saw where promotion of young designers was a bit lacking and Mission Catwalk was an avenue to promote emerging talent.
How did you come up with the idea for Mission Catwalk?
The idea came from America’s Next Top Model and we had banked the idea for several years and then Project Runway came about, which was perfect it gave us a bench mark as to what the reception would be like and whether it would be a good show. We decided to push ahead with it and showcase Caribbean talent.
Obtaining airtime for a new show is difficult in Jamaica how did you accomplish this?
Obtaining airtime for new content is very difficult yes because the content has to be good and if you’re new you don’t have any track record for them to say they can be dependent on you to be consistent in the quality that they expect. Now for me from the beginning I’ve always been a stickler for details and putting together a nice presentation. Everything we did leading up to our negotiations was very professional and that showed that we were professional enough to handle the quality that they were expecting.
Is Mission Catwalk only aired in Jamaica?
Mission Catwalk is aired across the Caribbean in seventeen countries such as Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Guyana and Bermuda.
How has this show helped the winners of the competition and other participants with their careers?
Every now and again I get the calls from the designers and we get testimonials from them speaking about how much the show has changed their lives and their careers. Besides just having a fan base, the impact of television is significant. You reach so much more people and it’s an excellent platform for advertising for them because most of these emerging designers cannot afford advertisements like Armani and Michael Kors so this is an avenue for them to get advertisement and also an opportunity for them to further their career because we provide scholarships and cash funding for capital for their business and opportunities for magazine spreads, photo shoots and fashion week. It’s a package that is perfect for an emerging designer. So it definitely is life changing for all the participants and especially the winner.
Do you think producing this show has set you back in your own designing career?
Yes I think producing Mission Catwalk has. I wouldn’t say that it has set back my career but I’m somewhat of a mad scientist and if I’m committed to something I’m all in and the last time I did CFW was 2010. I forced myself to put out a collection in 2012 and I haven’t done anything since because I have been so committed to making sure the show continues and will continue to provide the opportunity for our designers. But even though that happens I’m still learning a lot because the opportunities that I’m giving them I’m learning from it and I will also benefit from it when I’m ready to. In due time I can be where I want to be in fashion.
Do you think being educated all the way up to the tertiary level has helped you to be more successful in your career?
That’s difficult because I studied Philosophy in University most people would say the discipline didn’t really help me in production or fashion because I didn’t study fashion or television production or media & communication but … A degree is just a foundation to show that you are analytical and are capable. I would say it helped but I don’t think that if I didn’t have a degree or I didn’t study at University that I would be any less talented or committed.
Has being a career driven woman caused you to make sacrifices in your personal life?
No, no, I’m a believer in everything in its own time. I don’t sit and plan like that. I just let life happen.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers and producers?
The advice I’d give to aspiring designers would be to make sure you get formal training and with Internship you have to work for an established designer not just any designer an established designer who has a thriving business so you can understand and learn from them. Cause you always think you know and there is just so much more and Jamaicans tend to have this “hustler mentality” where we think we can do it ourselves without any guidance. The advice I’d have for anyone in production would be just to have a keen eye for detail and high standards.