When his grade six schoolteacher taught him how to sew bags more than two decades ago, little did Clifford Anthony Peters know that this skill would end up being a major income generator for him.
The 33-year-old learnt how to cut and sew bags by hand, as classwork, while he was a student at the Davis Primary School in St Catherine. And although the technique was embedded in his brain, he didn’t sew another bag until two years ago when he realised there was a huge market for custom made bags in Negril.
“I learnt to sew my first string bag in grade six, and I never forgot how to do it. When I came to Negril, I saw that bags sell, so I started making bags,” the Old Harbour High School past student said.
He explained: “I started stitching them by hand and selling them, and the rest is history. I was using my hand all along until I bought a machine. I sold the first one to a white man at the Canoe Bar. I was at the Canoe Bar with a portion of them, and the man said: ‘How much for one of these?’ I really wanted to sell a bag, so I said US$20 and he gave me US$25, so that was good.”
These days, Peters uses a lot of denim in his creations. Another fabric, burlap, is very popular among the tourists.
“I never make the same thing twice. If I use the same fabric, it’s a different style. If I even make the same-looking bag, it’s a different lining,” he said.
His bags are available at the several spots in Negril, including the Wake and Bake Café on Negril’s West End where he now sews, displays his bags for sale and helps his friend, Karen McLeod, in the operations at the café.
—Article written by Claudia Gardner