By Akeem Greene
#IsWeOwn #EssequiboIsWeOwn #AllOfGuyanaIsWeOwn
Those are the trending hashtags on social media in support of Guyana’s territorial integrity in the ongoing border controversy with Venezuela.
The hashtags form part of supporters’ efforts to promote the firm stance that the entire Essequibo region is Guyana’s and Guyana’s alone.
On Thursday, December 14, President Dr. Irfaan Ali and his team went to St. Vincent and Grenadines to meet Nicholas Maduro, his Venezuelan counterpart, upon the invitation of several leaders in CARICOM, Latin America, and South America.
As ears opened further and eyes pierced to attention for any news about the outcome of the talks, a photo of President Ali went viral on social media.
It was a picture of the President wearing a unique wristband with a map of Guyana. The wristband was a subtle but powerful statement that Essequibo belongs to Guyana.
And everyone asked, who intricately crafted the President’s wristband?
Well, we found her: it was a humble Carolyn Nichols.
Nichols, the proprietor of Natural Touches, has been in the business for over 25 years, more than half of her life.
In an interview with the News Room on Saturday, she revealed that the now iconic piece was crafted just the night before.
Not knowing the band was being made for the President, Nichols had initially outsourced the job to a colleague.
However, after it did not meet her likeness, she went on a solo mission to carve the map’s design in leather and then paint it.
She produced five wristbands overnight for the high-level meeting in St. Vincent.
The designs were based on what the President requested through his staff, and while it was not the ideal “gold map”, Nichols was elated with her work.
“Initially, for me, it wasn’t a big deal; it was just another leather band I was making, and eventually, I found out it was for the President. I felt good that he was pleased with the finished product because it was his design. After all, his contact brought a photo of what he wanted on the map”, the candid Nichols related.
Though there was high demand for the band after the President made it public, she opted not to mass produce based on an ethical standing that it was a special request from the President, using his design.
However, she indicated she recently got approval to retail the bands, which can take about two days to produce.
The youngest of three sisters and three brothers, Nichols had a penchant for artistry from an early age, stemming from her father’s hobby.
One of her brothers is also in the field, creating leather crafts.
More so, she and Sister Elizabeth Cox fused resources with support from IPED in February 1996 to purchase the shops.
The former graphic artist at what is now King Advertising still has “no regrets” about venturing into the unpopular field nearly 28 years ago.
The President’s wristband is just a drop in the ocean of a wide array of unique pieces in her collection.
“I think it is important to depict Guyanese culture, but I get bored doing the same thing repeatedly, so I try to create different things.”
Located in kiosk #12 at the Hibiscus Craft Plaza (behind the National Museum) on North Road, Georgetown, Nichols can be contacted by telephone numbers 225-2755 and 623-6403 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.