by Elizabeth A. Bryan, Managing Editor The Eleutheran (News Agency), Spice Media Group

(Harbour Island, Eleuthera) Harbour Island is now home to “The Plait Lady”, a second location of the signature store, owned by Claire Sands, herself widely
known throughout the Bahamas as the “Plait Lady”. Sands, who has her original, very successful, locale at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, was in
Harbour Island on Friday November, 25, 2011, for the new store launch. The Plait Lady proudly carries exclusively 100% Bahamian made straw goods, crafts, and souvenirs, and Claire has been credited with keeping alive the work and historical tradition of many straw plait artisans across the country, including Andros, Long Island and Eleuthera. Hostesses for the Opening; Store Manager, Tina Neely; Sales Clerk, Katiana Francis; and Operations Manager, Jessica Azeez welcomed many guests from the Harbour Island community, who turned out to peruse the new store, shop, and mix
‘n’ mingle.

Popular personality, and personal friend, Ed Fields emceed a brief opening ceremony and had the delightful task of declaring the newest The Plait Lady location, open! Rosemary Mitchell, a Harbour Island resident, who was on hand for the opening commented, “It’s so nice to see things that are Bahamian made. This is what we need to do with our plait and our art to keep it alive and keep our culture going.”

Claire, who grew up in Harbour Island, and received her early education in Current, North Eleuthera, began making her mark in the straw business more than 20 years ago, with her very first store location on Bay Street in downtown, Nassau. Describing her tenacity in sourcing Bahamian and the genesis of her business name, Claire Sands shared, “I started this business twenty years ago, and I was determined to have an all-Bahamian booth. I fell in love with plait, and I veered off in that direction, which is how I became the “Plait Lady”. I started in Long Island, and as I kept going back, they would always say, [here comes the “Plait Lady” now]. So the name sort of stuck.”

Revealing just a bit about how this new second location came to be, Claire, who happens to be the daughter of longtime North Eleuthera Member of Parliament, Noel Roberts, shared that she was on the beach in Harbour Island one day three years ago, when she expressed her interest in the location to a friend and said how happy she was that it was now a reality.

“I have worked tirelessly and travel constantly throughout the Bahamas, always looking for new product”, Claire remarked, and continued, “I am determined to have it all Bahamian. I am determined for Bahamians to work. I am determined to keep this straw business alive. I love what I do, and I’m very proud of what I do.”