Multitalented creator of Bermuda Born handbags and leather goods chats with Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball to share a glimpse of how she maintains balance while following her creative dreams.

Patrice sporting one of her Bermuda Born handbags

I have admired Patrice Morgan’s talent from afar since the early days of her career as founder and publisher of Show Off magazine.  That’s now nearly a decade ago, and much has happened in her personal and professional life since then.   As a longtime fan from afar, it was a real privilege and treat to have an opportunity to chat with this busy working mother about her current life and projects.  She was always an impressive force in my eyes, a perfect embodiment of youthful courage, focus and creative expression.  My thoughts a decade ago were, “Wow, how do you get to have that much gumption and productivity so young!?”  I still ask that question after our chat about balancing a busy life and pursuing one’s path.  She’s still so impressive after all these years

Here, she shares candidly answers to my questions…

CPB:   Give me a snapshot of your current life, what are you up to these days?

PM:  My daily life involves mothering my two year old daughter, working a nine to five job as well as maintaining and growing Bermuda Born.

CPB: What type of support do you receive to keep your busy life balanced and what do you highly recommend for others like yourself?

PM: I find that juggling my day to day responsibilities comes pretty naturally to me because for the last 15 years I have worked and managed two different businesses. Since I have been working in this manner for so long (which I don’t recommend), I have become really accustomed to multitasking and wearing many hats. When my daughter came along it just felt like another hat that I had added on; however, managing a 2 year old at home during a pandemic plus working at my full-time role has been a challenge. When I need balance I ask for help mainly for child care support. When I feel out of balance, I stop, process how I am feeling and take a break, whether it be for an hour, a day or a weekend. I often will sit in silence, without any noise, music or television just to get away from any noise. I will cancel as many things on my to-do list to take care of my mental health. I find that I would re-enter my world mentally stronger and more productive after this happens.

CPB: How do you find the discipline to make time for self-care?

PM: Sometimes, it’s not always easy but it helps if I plan in advance to take a break because I can almost predict that eventually I will feel burned out if I don’t take time to sit and relax. When I think about how tired and dis-engaged I can become from lack of self-care, it motivates me to plan out vacation days or just a day off here and there.

CPB:  Everyone says that the ability to say “No” is essential, but how can this be made easier for people who want to be helpful to everyone?

PM:  I would tell that person who struggles to say ‘no’, to stop and think about what would happen to them if they became unwell due to exhaustion or prolonged periods of stress. I have seen what the physical manifestations of someone who does not get a break or take a break looks like.  The end result is usually poor, most often requiring medication or even in some occasions sentiments of resentment because they always said ‘yes’ to those who would not reciprocate.

CPB:  How has the pandemic affected your mood and the balance of your life?

PM:  The pandemic has been a blessing in disguise because it has allowed my pace of life to slow down, which in turn, has kept me pretty content. There’s less pressure to leave the house and get involved in many other activities which can be distracting. It has allowed me to carefully plan my life out and move at a pace that suits a creative thinker such as myself. I like that it has given me more time to think about life and future business goals.

CPB:  I was first introduced to your work when my daughter Chloe wrote for your quarterly magazine Show Off.  I was impressed from the start.  How did the idea for Show Off come about, and at such a young age?

PM: I was 22 years old, right out of college at the time and was working as a substitute teacher.  I always wanted to work in magazine journalism and realized that the opportunities were not just sitting out there waiting for me.  I had to create them.  I wanted to create a magazine that reflected my interest in fashion, but also reflected my community.

There was a lot of pressure I put on myself not to fail because I did not want to disappoint my mother who had worked so hard to put me through school.  She gave me every tool I have, so that I could be successful in life.

CPB:  Where did your entrepreneurial spirit come from? 

PM:  It came out of necessity.  My original plan was to land a role as a fashion buyer in the US. However,  when 9/11 happened, securing a job became difficult for non-US citizens.  I had to leave the US and so returned to Bermuda.  I always loved fashion and magazines and this naturally led to the idea of Show Off magazine,  especially because Bermuda did not have its own magazine representing her people. 

It was clear after a while that there was interest in the island in other areas besides fashion, such as entertainment and local events.  Over time, the fashion focus evolved into a lifestyle magazine.  In business you must respond to what the audience wants if you are to be successful.

CPB:  Tell me a bit about your upbringing and education?

PM:  I grew up in Devonshire and was educated in Bermuda at both the Elliott Primary School and the Bermuda High School for Girls. At 17, I left Bermuda to study at Clark Atlanta University where I obtained my B.A. in Merchandising and Fashion Design. I went back to school at 28 years of age and obtained a Foundation degree at the London College of Fashion in Product Design, this is where I specialized in handbag design.

CPB:  What was your college experience like and how did attending an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) impact you?

PM:  My four years spent at Clark were  the best years of my life.  I grew so much personally and professionally, I also loved the atmosphere there, the support and encouragement of the HBCU experience are unparalleled.  Clark Atlanta University’s motto is, “Find a way or make one”.  The school encouraged us to never take ‘No’ for an answer and, number one,  to be problem solvers, capable of pivoting when needed.  We were encouraged not to shy away from obstacles, but to work through adversity.  Find a way or make one.

CPB:  That truly is a powerful message for young people to get.  We need that message starting from elementary school, ‘Find a way or make one’!  That attitude is what I think most impresses me about your young career.  So, what are your goals for the coming year?  And your long-term vision for yourself?

PM:  The long term goal is to continue to push my design skills and produce beautiful unique handbags and clothing. Although I have been designing and making handbags for the last 10 years, I feel like I am only getting started. Eventually I would like to be in a good financial position to work on Bermuda Born full-time.

CPB:  How do you go about achieving the goals you set?

PM:  I achieve goals in measured steps, meaning that I break them down into small pieces. I find that making a list and executing each goal one step at a time really does help.

CPB: Tell me some details about your business journey and your current project.  And where/how can we get your products?

PM:  When I came back to Bermuda from London after receiving my last degree, I actually opened a little workshop in Hamilton and I was physically making handbags and selling them. I would do a bit of work on Bermuda Born before 9am, after 5pm and on weekends; it helped that my full time job was located across the street from my workshop. I moved to Manchester, England in 2016 and I actually began working on Bermuda Born there and was able to take it to the next level gaining business support from various entrepreneurship agencies. I trademarked my brand and then found a factory in Portugal that I traveled to and set up manufacturing.

Living in Manchester was very instrumental. I came back to Bermuda in 2018, tested and launched our handbags into retail shops. Bermuda Born is now stocked inside of TABS Flagship store on 12 Reid Street in Hamilton

CPB:  Are your bags pricey, upscale designer products?

PM:  They are not designer products where the retail price is much higher than the production cost. However I would class them as a luxury item due to the fact that they are handmade to a very high standard using the best leather available in Spain and Portugal.  Bermuda Born handbags are priced at market value and are  “Fair Trade” products, made in Portugal.  At present I have a good inventory and reasonable selection of styles.

CPB:  Excellent, I look forward to owning one! Shifting focus now, what do you do for joy? Do you believe in “retail therapy” (I certainly do!)

PM:  Sorry to sound like a ‘bag nerd’ but I actually love to make and discover new handbag styles every chance that I have. I love researching trends on Pinterest and looking through old magazines. Outside of handbags, I love, love, love fishing and also baking, traveling and watching reality tv!  I do love retail therapy when I am in a city… I believe in retail therapy when I have the extra coins to spend but I have been pretty disciplined about not going overboard and ordering even online during lockdown, mainly because I need to always maintain good cashflow to reorder Bermuda Born products.

CPB:  Patrice Morgan, as always, you’re savvy and wise beyond your years.  Bermuda Wellness Space is grateful for your time sharing your journey with us.  We wish you continued success in business and in maintaining your balance.

To learn more visit www.bermudaborn.com or find them on Instagram @bermudabornlabel

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