Drive and commitment make Merle different
August 6, 2004
Drive and commitment make Merle different

Handicraft is defined as: “work that requires both manual and artistic skill”.
To establish a successful business from selling crafts, however, also requires drive and commitment. And that’s what distinguishes Merle Gellizeau from many in the same field.{{more}}
She started learning the craft when she was small. “I used to watch my mother and neighbours do it,” she said. And when she was older: “I would buy what I saw in shops, take it apart and build it over until I learned to do that pattern.”
But that knowledge remained a hobby until friends encouraged her to start her own business. So in 2000, Gellizeau opened Merle’s Art and Craft in Campden Park, right off the secondary school.
Though reserved when speaking about herself, the young businesswoman became more animated when explaining the details of her craft.
She first gets the material from the countryside around North Union. What later turns into a basket, fan, place mat, belt, poster or purse originally comes from the Pandanas tree, also called “copia”, “ping wing” or “wild pine”. She weaves the dried leaves, cuts the shape, uses raffia imported from overseas to create the designs (flowers, lettering, etc.), and then sews it together. All of that takes time and determination.
The other part of a successful business – commitment – takes many forms with Merle. She is currently rebuilding her workshop, “making it better”, for although, “Business is okay for right now,” she wants to expand.
Not one to sit around waiting for business to come to her, she markets her products at different shops around Kingstown. And with exposure at trade shows – one at the 2003 Independence celebration in Brooklyn, New York, and last year’s trade show in Grenada – she is destined to expand along with her workspace.
Merle’s Art and Craft will also be one of the micro-enterprises in export products that will be highlighted in a promotional book that the Ministry of Trade hopes to publish by Independence Day, which will be distributed to Vincentians and overseas nationals.
Yet Gellizeau’s commitment doesn’t stop with her business. It extends to her son and to the community as a whole. She would like to see youths and older persons become more enterprising, even if it’s not in her field. “Learn something,” she urges young people. “Learn a skill – you’ll always have something to bring in that extra dollar.”
And to older folks, particularly those knowledgeable in handicrafts, “Please have workshops to teach young people or other crafters what you know.”
She, too, gives lessons in the art of handcrafting. So, if you’d like to learn a creative, pleasurable and potentially profitable skill – give Merle a call at 527-7425. And though her shop is closed while being remodeled, orders can still be placed with her.