Cedella Marley, daughter of legendary reggae artist Bob Marley and his wife Rita, is teaming up with Puma to design the track uniforms for Jamaica. Madame Noire asked the CEO of Tuff Gong International, her clothing company, what this opportunity meant to her and living up to the family legacy.
When did you realize you had designing abilities?
My background in fashion design is purely by accident. Touring with my family as part of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, I wanted everyone to stand out. We had the name and we had the music but I also knew we needed to bring something different to reggae. So I started to deconstruct different pieces and refashion them into outfits we’d wear on stage and for promotional appearances. I realized I had a knack for it and ultimately a passion.
How would you describe your own personal style?
I love lines, angles and texture. The feel of vintage and modern fabrics blended….bringing together the old and the new while protecting Mother earth. I’d have to say two of my muses have been Grace Jones and Dad.
You approached PUMA and asked why they hadn’t requested that you design Team Jamaica’s track suits. Did you think you would get a response so quickly?
When PUMA approached me to design the Olympic wear I didn’t believe it. It’s not even a dream come true because I never dreamt of it. Maybe doing a couple of t-shirts, that’s easy. The entire collection for the Olympic team, including Usain Bolt, that’s incredible! It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m extremely grateful.
What does the opportunity to design the track and field kit for Jamaica?
There is a very deep pride in being a Jamaican….and being the one who designs the uniforms only deepens that pride. Having this new relationship with PUMA for the 2012 Olympics on behalf of the Jamaican Track and Field team is amazing. We break records– both the Marleys and Bolt. Marley & Bolt, it’s like legendary PUMA.
What does the success of the track team, Usain Bolt specifically, mean for you personally and Jamaica at large?
I remember last Olympics watching the Jamaican team walk out and feeling very proud. I think this time around we are going to stand out a little bit more and everyone is going to be watching.
Do you feel any pressure to live up to your family’s legacy?
It’s a lot of responsibility…but I have always been a Marley and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
How do you balance your family, career and all your other projects?
I work out of my studio in my home in Miami. It’s my sanctuary and also a source of creative inspiration. I designed every bit of that house, so it feels like an extension of me. It’s where my best work happens. I have a small staff, so I’m very much hands-on in this entire process. I’m surrounded by my family, which inspires me.
What’s next for you?
It’s not in my nature to plateau or stop moving. I love the challenge of new projects. I get my energy from new opportunities and I’m always open to them.