By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Tracy-Ann Francis is letting her passion become her reality.
For as long as she can remember, Francis has loved to dress up. From eye-catching outfits to matching accessories, the young wife and mother enjoys making a bold statement.
“I like to dress up and I’m not afraid of a reaction. I like to do something different,” said Francis.
However, the life of the Hamilton Mountain resident took a decidedly different turn in the fashion world after an event at her church last year.
Francis wanted to look her best so she hastily put her creative talent to use by crafting an eyebrow-raising hat to complement her outfit. Francis said her “topper” was very dressy and featured peacock feathers and tulle.
“I wore the piece and got lots of head turns,” said Francis. “People asked where did I get it, and I told them I made it.”
Francis subsequently received a couple of orders for hats, participated in a fashion show at her church, crafted another 50-or-so toppers and formed her own company, TAFique Toppers, which is an acronym for her name, combined with the word “unique.”
Most of Francis’ TAFique Toppers feature a touch of vintage sophistication combined with modern trends. Almost all of her creations are reversible to adapt to any number of occasions, and feature a detachable bow or broach to mix and match.
For her inspiration, Francis said she looks toward nature and her garden.
“I love gardening and working with my hands. The softness of the air, the contour design of a naturally folded leaf, the changing of the seasons, the texture of fabric and the sophistication of the vintage era.”
As opposed to hats or fascinators, Francis refers to her pieces as “toppers” because it gives a “different spin” to her work. She said people also tend to shy away from the word, “hats.”
Along with being a part-time milliner, Francis holds down a full-time job in the retail health-care field, is a volunteer Sunday school teacher and is furthering her education by taking on-line courses to achieve a degree in health administration.
She grew up in Jamaica, before moving to Hamilton with her husband. Francis credits her pastor’s wife, Inez Williams, with teaching her how to sew and thereby giving her the tools and knowledge to pursue her dream of becoming a milliner.
Francis’ dreams for her fledgling business include an internationally renowned boutique with a reputation for excellence.
To view Francis’ work, plan to attend the Ancaster Lions Holiday Gift Show. It will be Francis’ third show and takes place Nov. 3 and 4 at Marritt Hall, Ancaster Fairgrounds, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Along with Francis, it will feature about 100 vendors selling candles, ceramics, children’s wear, toys, crochet, smocking, floral arrangements, paintings, knitting, sewing, woodwork, stained glass, leather craft, jewelry and more.
Visitors will be able to get some Christmas shopping done and help the Ancaster Lions give back to those in need in the community.
Admission to the show is $4, children under 12 free, with door prizes and a free draw for $100 gift certificate.
For more information on TAFique Toppers, call Francis at 905-921-5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find TAFique Toppers on Facebook.