This week we cross the continental borders to profile a trailblazing fashion mogul, philanthropist and best selling author, Dr Sonia Noel, from Guyana, South America, and her company, Sonia Noel Designs. This is in line with our principles as Jambo Africa Online and those of our Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, who is also a Trustee to the Lagos-headquartered Pan Africana Strategy and Policy Group…

Dr Sonia Noel’s company, Sonia Noel Designs, is celebrating 25 years in the fashion and creative industry. Her brand personality and archetype, as per the norm in the sector, are intrinsically intertwined with hers – think of Italy’s Georgio Armani; Salvatore Ferragamo; Dolce & Gabbana jointly owned by Domenico Mario Assunto Dolce and Stefano Gabbana; South Africans David Tlali and Tami Sojini; and Nigeria’s “The House of Deola Sagoe” and “Jewel by Lisa” owned by Lisa Folawiyo. 

“My versatile design brand takes pride in not only beautifying the exterior or covering nudity,” says Dr Noel matter-of-factly, “but enhancing the inner you.” This is about endowing one with doses of self confidence – which is a rare social commodity in cross border business which is often dominated by such tendencies of the othering of others. “These masterpieces can be worn from the beach to the ballroom. My designs have graced the Red Carpet and the Grammies and Emmies,” she says with a tinge of pride and satisfaction. These are beyond music and television events, but they are the ultimate fashion spectacles attracting millions of media consumers across the world. 

One of the brand essence’s of Sonia Noel’s Designs is conscientiousness. “Our philanthropic gestures include supporting orphanages; homeless people; breast cancer awareness campaigns; and developing awareness of sickle cell diseases; and supporting many other campaigns symbolic of responsible corporate citizenship. We also invest in providing a platform to nurture the young designers.”

Who is this extraordinary and multifaceted entrepreneur?

Dr Sonia Noel is a John Maxwell Trained Coach; entrepreneur; philanthropist; mentor; designer; professional speaker and best selling author.

She is a passionate and industrious creative artist, who is celebrating just over two decades in the fashion industry.  

Her determined spirit pushes her to drive creative industry enterprise forward and she has become an exemplar and mentor to young creatives, not only in Guyana but throughout the Caribbean region. She has been presented with many awards locally, regionally and even internationally, for her dedication to entrepreneurship, her commitment to philanthropy and her engagement as a cultural ambassador, advancing creative ventures, promoting competitive fashion design and emboldening youth empowerment initiatives.

Over the years, she has positioned her brand to be among the most sought-after trendsetting labels in the region. Her fashions have been featured in numerous publications in the Caribbean and around the world.

She is the founder of many socio-cultural industry staples in Guyana – these include Guyana Fashion Week; Sonia Noel Foundation; Women in Business Expo; Women Association for Sustainable Development; and Inspire You. 

Dr Noel has gone on to publish ten books and is now one of the facilitators in the Virtual Writers’ Retreat. She runs motivational workshops for personal and professional self-development that have added value to many lives over the years. All these non-governmental organisations seek to foster social transformation and creative sector development.

Dr Noel ploughs back into her communities through her “Love Revolution” campaign through schools, primarily, as well as through community-based groups. “The vision of this uplifting crusade is to instill the concept of love to engender better-living mandates,” she says reassuringly. Her most recent philanthropic mission is called “Bread Basket” which distributes free bread to the underprivileged and meals to the homeless.

Dr Noel is a mother of two beautiful daughters, Mariska and Shonta, and two adorable grandchildren, Jaidyn and Peyton.

On Monday, 31 October 2022, Dr Noel will be one of the speakers at a conference in Johannesburg themed “Collaboration across borders”. This engagement is critical and should be situated within the context of the outcomes of the three-day, 1 to 3 September 2022, African-Caribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2022 (ACTIF2022) which was hosted in Bridgetown, Barbados, and ended on a high note with the signing of a total of 14 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) aimed at deepening economic ties between Africa and the Caribbean.

The agreements, expected to form the foundation for strengthened bilateral relationships, trade and investment ties, marked the culmination of this historic forum which, for the first time, brought together the private and public sectors of Africa and the Caribbean.