15 May 2011

Business Feature ~ A Passion for Glass: CRYSTAL FORMS

Loc'd Business Entrepreneur

In one word: AMAZING! That sums up the moment as I watched Jamal Ifill create a stunning piece of art from glass. I came to his workshop that day to purchase a loc bead. He is the one many women go to for these beautiful hair accessories. The one and same gentleman whose work some of you on Naturaleza commented on when I showcased some new loc hardware a couple months back.When I got there he was in the midst of preparing a new piece and invited me to watch him complete his creation. Needless to say, I was intrigued by what he was doing but equally taken back by his kind invitation. Jamal, is the managing director of Crystal Forms, a one in a million kind of enterprise here on the island of Barbados. 

Seeing persons being involved in leather craft, food and clothing manufacturing on the island is common here. But, glass blowing? For me, this was new. Interestingly, my visit there opened my eyes to so much more. Crystal Forms is more than glass accessories which adorn our hair. Crystal Forms produces an exceptional selection of high quality craft.

More on Crystal Forms, click below:
A lovely collection of glass hair accessories.
Working in this medium is quite different from the norm we see - woods, metals, leather. What made you decide to get into glass-blowing?

Jamal: Well, I stumbled onto glass-blowing quite by accident. Never knew anything like this existed. My first teacher was an American who lived on the island. Learning from him was fun in itself as he always had creative ways to teach me about the glass and how it works. I was later taught by several artists from around the world. Learning from them was not as much fun as when I was taught by my first teacher, but, it was great to experience different techniques from various artists.

What is Crystal Forms and when was it started? Is there a particular group you target?

Jamal: Crystal Forms is a special group of talented, creative designers who work with the delicate medium of crystal, a technique known as 'lampworking'. These creations - whether opaque, transparent or coloured -  are brought to life with the use of a flame torch. We produce a variety of crystal figurines; as well as earrings, pendants and rings. Our team includes myself, Richard Daisley, Gina Sheppard and Carla Daniel. Crystal Forms was officially registered in 2005 but we were in operation well before that. Our first target group was natural hair stylists because we first made the jewels for locs then we branched off into different jewelry such as earrings, pendants and rings. These were to target the locals as well as the tourists who would come in and request demos.

Have you been able to break into the overseas markets?

Jamal: Over the years, we have been slowly able to penetrate the North American and U.K. markets with the loc jewelry. And, in the past year sales have been increasing.

How do you keep your creations looking so fresh, current? From where do you get your inspiration?

Jamal: Our clients are our biggest inspiration because they always want to look different. They sometimes challenge us to come new and different. If we fall short, we always get lashes for it :) :)

Now, you rock locs. (O;  Why did you choose this style to wear your hair?                                                                                   
Jamal: Believe it or not, I wear my hair in locs so I could experiment with the loc jewelry. In the beginning when I just had an afro, I was not able to fully relate to the clients who had queries about them. So, I grew me some dreads and I love them, too!

Has this stopped you in advancing your business in anyway?

Jamal: I've had a couple times where people asked me about my hair or hinted something about it. But, it did not bother me because I am not my hair. In my opinion locs, relaxed, pressed, jheri curl or any other way people wear their hair is all the same. Having locs or any other style does not effect the intelligence of a human being. Going to meetings and other business seminars, people are more overwhelmed by how educated I am because I make it my business to educate myself in any and every aspect of my business so I can carry it forward and have it continue growing.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of going down the path of entrepreneurship?

Jamal: Prepare for hard work, long hours. I've always heard other artists say that it helps to be in a field that you love. It is because when times get really hard, there is something to stick to, hold onto. Entrepreneurship is not easy so you must be prepared to fight. It is exremely rewarding when you achieve success even when you set small goal within the business.

How can we keep up with you and new happenings at Crystal Forms?

Jamal: Persons who maybe interested in purchasing pieces from Crystal Forms or for further information, may contact me via:jamal@crystalformsbarbados.com. We may also be contacted via our Facebook fan page - Click HERE  

Jamal, Managing Director, Crystal Forms.
Here he wears protective eye wear as he works.

A creation by designer Richard Daisley of Crystal Forms

More beautiful loc glass accessories made by
the Crystal Forms team of designers.

Beautiful earth-toned pendant.

Thank you so much, Jamal and Crystal Forms for this insightful look into your passion for glass!

***All photos courtesy of Crystal Forms***


  1. Presently i have 2 glass beads in my hair--but for uniformity sake--i think i should get some more...glad to know that we have this talent here at our fingertips....the blown up picture of the glass bead is especially beautiful...all the varying patterns--love it

  2. Big hug, Cuz! Thankies! I really love his work. Sometimes I don't know which to put in. Actually for my birthday coming up, I'm treating myself *blushing face*. I prefer the coils but will see when I get there.


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