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Hotseat - Zillah Duzon Hazel

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~ C'est tres Jolie ~

Designer and owner of Jolie Duzon, Zillah is a St. Maarten-born fashion designer who now lives in the Netherlands. Zillah is on island with her family enjoying St. Maarten's beautiful weather and warmth. Although we've had some rain, Zillah is still totally happy to be here, as rain is not synonymous with cold. Zillah is working on completing her 2014 collection, which is exciting with great colours, patterns and styles. St. Maarten's best and most beautiful models will be on the catwalk Thursday, November 7, at 721 Scene modelling the best of Jolie Duzon at the launch. For those fashionistas on island, this is your chance to come and experience designs that will blow you away with their fresh approach, appeal and young and elegant look. Be there to witness this wonderful event.

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

My name is Zillah Duzon-Hazel. I was born on Sint Maarten and grew up in Cole Bay. As a little girl at around the age of eight, I was always drawing pictures of little dolls and colouring them. At age 10, I would cut out miniature body figures of women on hard cardboard and would fold fabric around the bodies to form clothes. Clearly, the interest in fashion, styling and design was something I had from an early age.

Where did you go to school?

I started primary school at Sister Regina and later graduated to St. Maarten Academy. That's where my creativity and interest in fashion began to develop.

You studied in Holland; what did you study? Tell me a little about your experience as a student in Holland?

At age 18, I left St. Maarten with a scholarship to study international business and economics in the Netherlands, but this was never my passion. I applied to Amsterdam Fashion Institute and got accepted to study Design & Styling. I learned a great deal about fashion but decided to pursue my dream in fashion on my own terms. I started researching, studying and buying books about fabric types, fashion and print designing, styling and autobiographies of successful designers. Designers that started small and grew to success inspired me. I also followed sewing, pattern-making and fashion-styling courses.

You are presently building up your company Jolie Duzon; tell me a little about it.

Jolie Duzon was founded at the start of 2011 in Rotterdam. It is a growing clothing brand targeting professional women that love and enjoy life. Jolie Duzon markets its clothing as an alternative to existing clothing lines, and differentiates itself by its exclusive style and prints. When you think of Jolie Duzon, you must think of a Caribbean Chic style. This is the merging of the classy European style mixed with the colourful, exotic Caribbean identity that blends into a trendy, exclusive Lifestyle brand.

You are here attending St. Maarten Fashion Week; please tell me of your experiences.

It's always a pleasure to be back home to enjoy family, food, the weather and the beach! I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to present my designs along with many other talented designers. I am really inspired by artistic and creative people and hope that the next show will be even bigger and better.

Do you have any hobbies or interests besides designing? Give us a description of a regular day in your life.

My life consists of juggling being a mother, wife and entrepreneur. Singing and cooking are also hobbies that keep me busy.

What are your ambitions for the future? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

In 10 years, I hope I'll have my own production company for my clothing in the Caribbean as well as a network of boutiques to successfully supply the whole Caribbean with my clothing, and to have branched out to children and men clothing; also to have a fully functioning web shop to distribute my clothing internationally.

What do you do on your days off from work?

On my days off, I enjoy spending time with my son and husband. They make me laugh and keep me grounded. We usually plan a day out and go to a park, shopping and eating out.

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would be the one question you would ask and what would you serve them to eat?

The first person would be Adam from the Bible; I would ask him why he ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The second person would be Roberto Cavalli, who's a very successful Italian women's designer and one of my favourite designers; I am very impressed by his creativity and love for fabric prints.

I would ask him which characteristics about himself drive him to be such an amazing and successful designer.

The third person would be Oprah Winfrey; I would ask her what the key is to maintaining her friendship with Gayle King for so many years.

I would cook them all my best dishes. Cheesy meat lasagne, scalloped potatoes, vegetable fried rice, creole chicken, sweet cinnamon carrots, green salad, fried plantain and red velvet cheese cake brownies for dessert.