Cherie Warner-Richard is the founder of Cee Wee Designs, a Black-owned, woman-led luxury bag and accessories brand based in Ontario, Canada. She launched her business back on the island of Tobago about 10 years ago when she made a bag for herself.
According to her, the bag got the attention of several people who wanted to own one. She then decided to commercialize her craft, leading to the establishment of Cee Wee Designs, according to CBC.
She eventually moved from Tobago to stay in Hamilton, Canada. According to her, her home inspires her designs. “I am from the Caribbean. We have a [bright] sun, we like bright colours … I like to create statement pieces. I want you to love your bag, your earrings, whatever it is,” she told CBC.
Prior to launching her business, Warner-Richard wanted to be a speech therapist. Her passion was to help people to develop their speech to improve communication. After graduating from the University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI, Mona), where she studied Linguistics with a double minor in Zoology and Caribbean Sign Language Interpretation, she returned to her country to work. However, getting a job became challenging for her.
“I went home trying to get a job, I was supposed to teach but nothing was happening. I decided I wasn’t gonna sit around waiting. So after a couple of months, I told myself that I had to do something to make money,” Warner-Richard told FunTimes Magazine.
She started teaching music. “I started my own music school in Tobago and it thrived for two years. So, that was like my first venture into entrepreneurship.”
Warner-Richard comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her grandmother was an entrepreneur, and so is her mother. So when the music school she opened closed, she did not give up. She decided to turn her hobby of making bags into a business.
Today, she has clients in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. Warner-Richard sells, markets and makes the designs almost all by herself. Her outfit provides handbags, face masks and a limited supply of jewelry.
According to her, she wants Cee Wee to become an all-in-one stop for accessories.