Erica: Carnival Hopper

img_2727CGR: How did you come up with the idea to celebrate your 40th birthday with Carnival hopping?

Erica: The idea came to me through a process of elimination more than anything. While celebrating with friends at their 40th birthday parties I started thinking about how I would celebrate my 40th year. I realized that while parties are a ton of fun, my way of hosting a party meant that I would put all the focus into my guests and making sure that they were having a good time. While I am always down for a good party with friends, a few strangers and lots of vodka, I wanted to do something that I would enjoy completely – no questions asked. And if you haven’t heard I LOVE CARNIVAL. So with that I resolved that I would celebrate on ‘Deh Road’

However that’s nothing new, I’m on the road when ever and where ever I can be. I believe in living life to the fullest – Life is NOT a dress rehearsal, so go hard or go sit down! With that it was clear that in order to celebrate 40 years that God has so graciously allowed me to be on this this earth, I would celebrate by going to as many Carnivals as I could in the year.

I’m a numbers nerd, so ‘10 FO 40’ celebration was in full effect!

CGR: Which Carnivals did you visit and how did you choose those in particular?

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JAMAICA   “There’s a special kind of pride and confidence that comes from growing up in this part of the world. Sure, the region has beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes, but so do many other places. Caribbean people, however, are unique and inimitable.”  –JetSetSarah CGR: When/How did you fall in love with writing? JetSetSarah: I was a […]


The Caribbean Girls Rock! team compiled a list of a few favorite places to shop this season. All of the stores are owned and operated by Caribbean women. Please take some time out and check out the list below.


Island Kissez  – handmade body products, scrubs and soaps



Aye Shanti Jewelry – handmade floral and vibrant jewelry

Aye Shanti


VI Bush Tea – fine home-grown herbal teas

bush tea


Tyler J Creations – handmade beaded wooden jewelry

tyler J creations


V V Glitz N Glam – handcrafted designer carnival boots

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300MF – handmade bags and art

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Merch Carnival – various apparel & Home for the Holidays Pop Up Shop

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Jules Mitchell Bailey, Author


Jules Mitch Bailey7“I rewrote Champion Bubbler two times. The first manuscripts were erotic, and I got convicted and toned the novel down so that it could reach a broader audience, although it is still very juicy.”

CGR: What island are you from? Tell us how your Caribbean culture has influenced you.

Jules Mitch Bailey 4Jules: I grew up in a community just outside of Jamaica’s old capital, Spanish Town, where at one time, everyone knew each other and looked out for each other’s welfare. While people living in a community such as the one I grew up in may face a lot of hardships, financially and otherwise, the family dynamics and community spirit superseded all the problems that existed. 
With sports, reggae music and dance hall a part of our culture, there is always something going on to bring out some positive vibes in the people. The experiences of growing up in such a community still linger with me.


CGR: What inspired you to become an author?

Jules: I have always loved writing and it has been my dream for as long as I can remember to have a published novel. The thoughts of seeing my name on my very own book and having other people read and enjoy what I write was always a burning desire. Writing brings out the creativity in me and allows me to express myself in ways I would not normally do. I also find writing to be very therapeutic.


CGR: Tell us about your first novel, Champion Bubbler — about the story and lead characters.

Champion Bubbler cover - AJC fairJules: Champion Bubbler is the story of a young woman, Mercedes Ford also known as Bubbler, leaving the inner-city ghetto of Kingston to dance in a club in the tourist area of Montego Bay. She became romantically involved with the club owner, Danny, who sought her help in managing the club. At the same time, she was in love with Greg, a German tourist whom she first met on the beach. One of Bubbler’s lovers was brutally ripped away from her and she sets out to seek revenge against those who she believes wronged her. Champion Bubbler is not just about a young woman and the challenges she faced. It is a story that brings together the people and culture of Jamaica in such a thought-provoking way that it will ignite all kinds of emotions, and will keep you turning the pages.


CGR: What’s it like developing a lead character? Is she based on anyone or traits of several people you know?

Jules: Once I have an idea of who my lead character will be and what role that person will play, I allow my thoughts to lead me. The novel, Champion Bubbler, is entirely fictional so my lead character, Mercedes, is fictional. She, however, represents the facet of life of many young girls growing up in the ghetto who just needed a way out. She was very witty and was not an easy force to reckon with, but considering that she grew up in a tough environment, it is only normal that she developed her own defense mechanisms. Mercedes was a natural dancer who turned her skills into a career, and as a people all of us have some “bubbling” in us.


CGR: How do you get in the zone to write — do you have a favorite writing place or routine to get in the zone?

Jules: Writing comes very easy to me. Once an idea is formed in my head and I start writing, the story just flows. I do prefer to write at nights when the house is quiet and no one is around to interrupt me.


CGR: What’s the biggest challenge in being an author — writing, publishing, or perhaps marketing your book?

Jules Mitch BaileyJules:  Writing the first draft is easy. What is time-consuming is the revising and editing phase. Every time I read the manuscript, I am certain to see something that needs rewording or something out of place. This really drives me nuts because I want everything to be perfect. I chose the self-publish route because I didn’t have the time and effort needed to research and get the attention of an agent. Now that the book is published, marketing is the next challenge I am dealing with.


CGR: What’s your next novel — is it a continuation of the story?

Jules: My next novel is A Love Bubbling Inside. Yes, it is a sequel to Champion Bubbler. After I was through writing Champion Bubbler, I realized that the story did not end there. The novel ended with Mercedes aka Bubbler in a new environment which also made me aware that she will be living a different lifestyle from the one she lived in Champion Bubbler. There is so much more to her character that A Love Bubbling Inside is necessary.


CGR: When you’re not writing, what are you doing for fun?

Jules:  I read a lot and spend lots of quiet time at home when I am not working my full-time job. Most of the “fun” that I have now is with my nine-year-old daughter. I am always running around doing something with her and she keeps me busy and occupied.


CGR: Is there anything that didn’t make it into Champion Bubbler that you could share with us?

Jules  I rewrote Champion Bubbler two times. The first manuscripts were erotic, and I got convicted and toned the novel down so that it could reach a broader audience, although it is still very juicy. There are quite a number of things that I believe I should have included, but did not. Hence, the reason A Love Bubbling Inside is necessary. The question of Mercedes’ father is still unanswered and he is going to play an important role in A Love Bubbling Inside.

head shot - jbailey 

CGR: How can we find you and follow your juicy novels?







Telephone (301) 452-3837

Q & A Interview by Patreece


Marion Petersen, Quadrille Dancer


MARION CGR“Quadrille dancing is not for the faint of heart.” You gotta be as strong as Colonel Petersen!

CGR: What is your Caribbean heritage/where are you and generations back of your family from?

Marion: Like much of the black people of the Caribbean, my family’s heritage includes enslaved Africans.  We can trace my father’s family back to the 1800’s on the island of St. Croix, Danish West Indies.  Unfortunately, my mother’s father is not listed on her birth certificate.  But according to family sources, her father was Caucasian and her mother of African heritage.

CGR:Thinking about your Caribbean heritage, what are you most proud of?

Marion: I am most proud of the role my slave ancestors played in the 1848 abolishment of slavery in the Danish West Indies and the labor riot of 1878, during which one of St. Croix’s two towns were burned to the ground.

CGR: Tell us why you got into Quadrille dancing?

MARION DANCESMarion: I have always wanted to learn the quadrille and had attended a few quadrille dances whenever I could.  However, it was not until August 2014 that I considered joining a group of quadrille dancers.  I was retired by then and was looking for a fun activity in which I could participate.

CGR: What do you enjoy most about it?

Marion: I enjoy the unique sounds of the quadrille music, quelbe, the official music of the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Traditionally, the music is performed by what we refer to as scratch bands, which dates back to the days of slavery, when musical instruments were fashioned from objects such as buckets and fishing line.  Now modern instruments are used with some makeshift instruments to give the music a unique sound.  When I hear quelbe music as played by Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights, I just want to nod my head, stomp my feet, and clap my hands.

CGR: For people who may not know what quadrille is, please give us a little history/description on it.

MARION QUADRILLE GROUPMarion: Quadrille is the traditional dance art form of the U.S. Virgin Islands, originating in France in the 1700’s.  The dance was brought to the Virgin Islands during the height of its popularity in England, and was adapted as plantation entertainment.  Quadrilles were originally performed by two couples.  Then two  more couples were added, and the dance was performed by four couples in a square  formation.  Quadrille is a precursor to traditional square dancing, which finds its origins in the early 1900’s.  Quadrille, as danced in the Virgin Islands, is unique in the number of couples that participate (four or more couples) in the performance, the requirement for a caller who calls out instructions to the dancers, the traditional costumes, and the type of music.

CGR: Which group do you dance with? Tell us a bit about them.

MARION SKIRTMarion: I dance with We Deh Yah Cultural Dancers (WDY).  What I like about the group is that dancing is voluntary and the group is organized.  Members come from all walks of life with interest in one thing, dancing the quadrille.  We have teachers, lawyers, National Guard soldiers, office administrators, clerks, and retirees, to name a few.  As a voluntary organization, we have to recruit dancers continuously to keep membership high.  Information about the group is available at, Facebook, and YouTube.

CGR: Tell us about the attire?

Marion: Our traditional quadrille costumes are made of madras fabric. Traditionally, men wear madras shirts, and women wear madras skirt and head-tie, with a white, ruffled, peasant top, a petticoat and pumps.  Traditionally, the madras head-tie is of great significance in the quadrille dance, for it gives prospective male suitors in attendance the marital status of a female.  The head-ties are tied with one of four points.  One point signifies the lady is single, two points mean the lady is engaged, three points says the lady is married, and four points, the lady is divorced or widowed.

CGR: Where can we see you and WDY perform?

Marion: Currently, WDY performs at the St. Croix Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort and Casino every Thursday and every other Friday at the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort and Spa.  We also perform at various community events throughout the dance year.

MARION QUADRILLE SMILECGR: If someone is interested in becoming a Quadrille dancer, what should they keep in mind/what advice do you have?

Marion: Quadrille dancing is not for the faint of heart. The dance is intensive, requiring each dancer’s presence on the floor for the entire series of dances, or a replacement dancer must be available.  A series of dances can last 45 minutes or more at a high pace.


Q & A Interview by Patreece

Aye Shanti, Jewelry Designer


Colorful, vibrant and cultural describes Aye Shanti and her unique jewelry.

Aye Shanti.comCGR: Who is Aye Shanti Designs?

Aye Shanti: I’m Shanti and I’m the creator of Aye Shanti Designs. I’ve been artistic from the age of ten and started creating jewelry, stationery and mixed media art on a larger scale since 2008.

CGR: How long have you been creating pieces?

Aye Shanti: I’ve been creating pieces since 2008

CGR: Do you have any formal training in design?

Aye Shanti: I’m partly self-taught and I’ve taken classes in jewelry design.

NecklaceCGR: Your pieces are bright and vibrant. Do you have a favorite?

Aye Shanti: My favorite piece, thus far are the fabric necklaces, “Wrapped in Culture”. I designed these pieces in 2009 and wanted to find a way to use fabric as a wearable piece of art. I called it “Wrapped In Culture”, because it’s literally that, pieces of fabrics from around the world and fashioned into a necklace. I’ve recently included some of my hand printed fabrics, which includes custom hand lettering, another passion of mine.

CGR: What’s your favorite color and why?

Aye Shanti: I don’t have a favorite color but I do have a favorite color palette which is the combination of colors in a sunset. It’s a deep pink with hints of peach to mango like orange and vibrant purples.  Oh wait, also GOLD! Gold brings me life!

CGR: Who inspires you?

Aye Shanti: My mother, Ruth Vincent, is my biggest inspiration. She has always been a woman of style and loves fashion. Even though she’s been a nurse all of her life, she’s always been creative from sewing, crocheting and taught my sister and our first creative skills.

GoodVibesCGR: What’s one word that best describes you?

Aye Shanti: Passionate

CGR: Has living in New York influenced you as a designer?

Aye Shanti: Living in New York has definitely influenced me as a designer from the eclectic communities and urban landscapes. New York city, especially Brooklyn is the mecca for art, culture and fashion. There’s a beautiful blending of the world right here, from the music, the aroma from the restaurants and street art. The streets are our museums and runways.

CGR: Do you have any fond memories of visiting Grenada?

Aye Shanti: Yes, I have fond memories of visiting Grenada and the Caribbean. My sister and I used to wonder why we didn’t travel to Disney World in the summer but my mother insisted on these trips “back home” as a way for us to learn more about our culture and to appreciate the connections to our grandparents. We would sometimes travel 3-4 times a year and it was magical. Being surrounded by the lush green life, visiting the rivers, lakes and ocean and kept me connected to my Caribbean culture.  I played my first mas in Grenada, loved j’ouvert, shelling peas for granny, pounding lambi on the back porch, getting mangoes from the back yard and living a country life. I’m so thankful for those memories.

CGR: What is your favorite island dish?

Aye Shanti: I love OilDown!!

Q&A Interview by Jenee

The Crucian Contessa, Culinary Genius!



She is an attorney by profession and a culinary genius during her spare time. Her name is Tanisha Bailey-Roka. But, she is affectionately known to many as the Crucian Contessa.

CGR: How long have you been cooking or should I say creating dishes?

Contessa: I always loved baking—not so good at cooking—when I was growing up.  One of my favorite Christmas gifts was an easy bake oven my parents gave me! That was just a little metal box with a really tiny space for a really tiny cake pan, and a hot light bulb. But boy those little cakes were delicious!!  I really started to hone my cooking skills when I went away to college. My mom is an excellent cook. She didn’t believe in feeding us fast food, because in her words, “My food is better than that!” So having to shift from eating my mom’s amazing cooking to college cafeteria food was a real adjustment, to put it mildly. So, I started cooking most of my own meals. It’s amazing what you can do with two pots and a college stove top. And I just continued to cultivate my love of from scratch cooking from there.

kenepCGR: What makes you passionate about cooking?

Contessa: The taste! Making food from scratch and with excellent ingredients is a gift to yourself and to those you share it with. It is simply incomparable to anything that comes frozen or out of a box.  Almost anything you can buy, you can make yourself, and you control what goes into it. I also adore the look of pure bliss that crosses someone’s face when they taste something I shared with them. You can’t get that from a box! That comes from time and pride and love! It has its own unique flavor!

CGR: What’s your favorite dish of all time?

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