Mijiza Images Entrepreneur Spotlight

Good morning Cape Cod! If it's Saturday, that means we have another fabulous entrepreneur of color you need to know. The multitalented Beverley Toney Roberts of Mijiza Images spoke with Amplify POC's Rachael Devaney.‍

March 13, 2023

5 min read

Amplify POC Cape Cod

For many, artist and fabric designer Beverley Toney Roberts needs no introduction. Every summer she can be seen at the pop up shops, fairs, and shanties that span Cape Cod. And after a busy holiday season, she finally had time to share her journey as an artist living and working on the Cape.

When Beverley first arrived in America in 1996, she had no intention of staying. But almost three decades later, the Trinidad and Tobago native has happily settled in Marstons Mills. Her vibrant and colorful hand-painted “wearable art” can be found in shops, fairs, and outdoor markets during the tourist season on Cape Cod and throughout New England. And with a bustling online presence, Roberts said she “stays quite busy year-round.”

For Roberts, sinking her paintbrush into rich and brilliant natural pigments and gently exploring delicate silks, satins, and cottons has become a way for her to closely connect with the local community.

“Buying one of my creations, is like buying a little piece of my personality – I put my heart in everything I do.”

Amplify POC: What does Mijiza Images offer?

Beverley Toney Roberts: From wraps, and scarfs; to vacation wear; to bags, and totes; silk scarfs, and jewelry, every piece from Mijiza Images is one-of-a-kind wearable art. Most of my work is very simple and I love to work with many different kinds of fabrics. I love a variety of textures and recycled materials and I especially love to use cotton.

I’m always incorporating painting and I work with natural pigments and dyes. I’m in love with creation. God did a wonderful job creating this universe - and that’s where I find most of my inspiration.

Amplify POC: What encouraged you to start this type business?

Beverley Toney Roberts: Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, I lived a beautiful and simple life. I had a good childhood and right out of school, I was working in the Supreme court of Trinidad and did so for well over 10 years. But, I realized my passion wasn’t there. I discovered fabric and started taking courses in fine arts, dressmaking, and design and I ultimately abandoned the dream of being a lawyer. I began connecting back to color and texture and started making outfits for people.

In 1996, we moved to New York City because I hoped to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In New York, there was a beat to everything – a rhythm that I loved. I enjoyed art, music... life. But everything happens so fast and it’s hard to catch your breath. Initially, my husband Earl and I were married with no kids. But, low and behold, the minute we got to New York, I became a mom. I discovered you can’t be a mom and go to school in New York. You gotta be a mom and work. But, I was trained enough so I could survive without going to school and so I did some (fashion) shows with my son but I couldn’t do it full time.

My husband Earl was a pastor - and at that time we were adjusting to a new lifestyle and new country - and everything was more challenging. But I knew that creating art was what I wanted to do.

Amplify POC: What made you move your business to Cape Cod?

Beverley Toney Roberts: My sister lived on Cape Cod. We would visit her in the summer and my son fell in love with the area. He begged us to move but it wasn’t that easy. Eventually I got into retail and was offered a good management position on the Cape. Earl started working with the Marstons Mills Community Church, so it worked out.

When I left Trinidad, it wasn't my intention to make America my permanent home. But I love it here. Some things are very similar to living in Trinidad such as walking on the beach. I grew up in a fishing village in the countryside, so the beach was always a part of my life. It was so quiet there and it’s amazing to get up with the birds. I have that same feeling on Cape Cod.

Amplify POC: When did you realize that your business was taking off locally?

Beverley Toney Roberts: I had a table at the New England Christmas Festival a few years ago, and so many people knew my work and remembered me from a segment I did for Chronicle on WCVB Channel 5. There was also a woman there wearing a beautiful scarf that caught people’s attention. As I was passing her, I noticed the scarf too. I said to myself, “Wait a minute – I think that’s my work.” I went up to her, and she recognized me and said, “I know you - I’m wearing your scarf!”

Then people in passing noticed and wanted to see her scarf and the scarves I had to sell. Soon after, I started getting calls asking me where I will be selling my art next. That was exciting and it showed me that people have a real appreciation for my work.

Now I have pop up shops and do pretty big promoter shows on Cape Cod and in New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut. And my products are also in two shops locally: The Art Coddage in Mashpee Commons and Collections Gallery in Sandwich.

Amplify POC: In the wake of Covid, can patrons still find your products this summer?

Beverley Toney Roberts: Yes, this summer we will safely be setting up shop at the HyArts Artist Shanties on Ocean Street in Hyannis, as well as the Artist Cottages at Orleans Market Square, which is in the center of town. This will be the eighth year I’ve been there. I really love both locations.

In Orleans, in particular, the customers are unafraid of embracing my bold colors. They are daring and love that freestyle flowy look. It literally gives me joy when people come to my booth to see what I have. It makes me feel happy when they gravitate to my colors – and it reminds me of home.

The fishing village in Trinidad is called Balandra. My grandfather Isaac Arthur - my mother’s dad - was responsible for establishing the village general store, post office, roads and lights for Balandra. My family still owns the general store there and my brother has a hotel. If you go there today and say my grandfather’s name, everyone will know who he is. We named our son for him.

What my grandfather did taught me how to love and care for the generations to follow. And that’s what I’m trying to do with Mijiza Images. -- Rachael Devaney

On the Web: http://www.mijizaimages.com and http://stores.mijizaimages.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MijizaImages/
On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mijizaimages/
On Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/MijizaImages/_created/

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