Ayanna Dixon, a Jamaican fashion designer, manufactures her brand ASD in Jamaica, which is indicative of her mission to represent and raise up all Caribbean women. She is the subject of a feature interview series initiated by Conde Nast Traveler to speak with 100 individuals in 100 countries around the world and allowing them to say why travelers should consider their home countries as their next destinations.
Dixon, whose fashion design incorporates illustration with her creations, believes that Jamaica is the “heartbeat of the world.” She particularly cites the island’s music, people, and beaches as the major reasons Jamaica stands out among potential tourist destinations. While other islands are beautiful, she says, the people of Jamaica are so vibrant and “full of personality” they make the small island the true “star” of the Caribbean. Add in its reggae and dancehall music, and the positive energy of the country is hard to ignore.
Dixon attended fashion school in New York City, and she well remembers the scent of the air in Jamaica when she traveled home. It was a “sun-warmed, salty, sea-air smell” that also had hints of curry. Then, on returning to New York, she would be happily be transported back to the island in her mind when passing a restaurant and getting “a whiff of curry.”
She appreciates the diversity of Jamaica’s population as reflected in its national motto, “Out of Many One People,” and how the country considers everyone – “white Jamaicans, Black Jamaicans, Chinese Jamaicans, Indian Jamaicans, mixed Jamaicans” – to be 100-percent Jamaican. She explained that her ASD brand is concerned with “representation and how it matters.” As a Jamaican woman, Dixon appreciates the wide range of beauty among the women of Jamaica. She wants her brand to capture that element of the country and wants to make everyone “feel good about themselves—sophisticated, sexy, empowered, and happy.”
When asked about her favorite places in Jamaica to sample the food and enjoy its music, Dixon said she loves curry goat, especially recommending the dish at Kingston’s Cove Coolout Restaurant & Bar. She is also fond of lobster and favors Aunt May’s and Aunt Merl’s in Hellshire Beach. Noting that Chinese food in Jamaica is particularly good, she recommends Dragon Court. And she did not hesitate to recommend that visitors go to the Kingston Dub Club to hear Jamaica’s music. The venue offers concerts by reggae artists, and on Sundays, it is open to the public and features dub music and drinks in a good-vibe location. Dixon shared that the music of Jamaica is especially exciting to her now, with her favorite artists being Protoje, Sevana, and Koffee.
When Dixon is away from Jamaica, its beaches and “the warmth of our people” are what she misses most.
Photo – Ayanna Dixon