Before migrating from Jamaica to the United States at the tender age of 15, I spent my time attending and participating in every church event possible. I always loved the arts during those days, more so than studying. I spent most of my time in Jamaica singing in the choir, dancing, performing in plays, helping with jingles for a local radio station. I also lent a helping hand at church bake sales, sold various snacks to kids after Sunday school, taught Sunday school briefly, participated in our local cheerleading squad, and helped set up our annual yard sales. I also enjoyed our yearly beach trips and visits to women's shelters. As well as the orphanages, which changed my life and led me on the career path I seek today. Every year I look forward to Bible Studies Camp, where I participate in every class (singing, sign language, dancing, sports day, and plays).
I excelled in drama class, music, sewing, cooking class, and woodwork in Jamaica at school. After migrating to the US, I naturally was pulled to the arts, only this time I spent more time singing in the shower than in public, though I joined the school choir for one year. I was one out of a few students selected to showcase my artwork in our school's art display in craft class. I excelled with my funky and cool clothing lookbook in my fashion design class. Another class I excelled in was interior design. One out of 3 or 5 kids picked to decorate a model home. At Montgomery College, I was also naturally drawn to theatre classes. I never got the courage to go on stage, but I volunteered at a few plays in the background.
Fast forward to adulthood, my time spent visiting orphanages and women's shelters circled back around, and I found myself called to the mom and baby field. Before having my baby girl, I began training as a doula and belly binding artistry. Being around birthing mothers and seeing their glow and strength was intoxicating. I loved it. When I first learned I was pregnant, my husband and I were overjoyed and over the moon. Before even finding out the baby's sex, I had already started shopping and googling nursery themes before settling on a panda-themed nursery. I gave my daughter the nickname Pandi short for my little panda bear, during my pregnancy. With that in mind, I started searching earnestly to find the perfect décor items for my new baby's nursery. While hunting for panda-themed products, I came short to find only generic, bland designs—nothing to match my green and yellow décor colors. There had to be something different, I thought; this can't possibly be it. Why weren't there any cute panda prints in existence for baby products? After settling for the available patterns on the market, I thought there had to be other individuals like myself searching for more appealing products than what the market had to offer. If I can't get what I want, why not create it! And so, the idea of making my line of panda-themed baby products was born. I couldn't be the only panda lover out there looking for trendy products for their kiddo's nursery.
The idea of starting a company was a new concept for my brain. I had never seen myself as a businesswoman and never thought about owning, much less starting a company. But my love of art and design made it seem doable. Spending time doodling and coming up with ideas came naturally. When the pandemic hit, I found it harder to find doula clients, so I shifted my focus to mom and baby products online. It wasn't a big transition since it's the same field and tending to the same group. And so, my journey of starting Wai + Tori was born. I immediately got to work watching countless videos, reading tons of articles, and talking to many manufacturers, which has been a continuous journey. Read our article about 'What makes our blankets different' to see how we choose the fabric used for our swaddles. When presented with the name for the company, It was many nights tossing and turning trying to find a word or putting names together that didn't make sense. Then one night, it connected. My daughter inspired the line, so why not name it after her. After endless weeks trying to come up with a name, I remembered a conversation with a friend about giving my daughter the nickname Tori. And so, the brand name Wai + Tori was born. It's been a journey getting the courage to start. Still, I love adventures, and I'm passionate about creating and sharing my love of beautiful, eye-appealing panda nursery products with other panda lovers like myself. I dream of growing the brand and opening a birthing center and orphanage one day, merging my worlds of love for mothers and babies.