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Former Chief Stew Launches Fashion Brand Gypsea Tribe

10 August 2021By Laura Shaughnessy
Randi Barry, founder of Gypsea Tribe

Written by

Laura Shaughnessy

Laura Shaughnessy has been the managing editor at Dockwalk since February 2018. Having grown up among the cornfields, she is ecstatic to be among the boats in the yachting capital of the world. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s in journalism, 15 years of experience with newspapers, magazines, and the online world, Laura has joined a great crew. When not writing about superyacht crew, she’s hanging out with her husband and their German Shepherd, working on house projects, or binging on Netflix.

This summer, former chief stewardess and crew chef Randi Barry had a soft launch online of her brand Gypsea Tribe, which now has ready-to-wear items in her store. This follows her semi-recent departure from her most recent yacht M/Y UNICA in January.

“I’m always trying to create pieces that you don’t see elsewhere,” Barry says. Because I make everything here in my studio in Fort Lauderdale with limited-edition fabrics and notions, you’re not going to see anyone else wearing these. My brand Gypsea Tribe is also exclusively creating pieces for those who are ever chasing the sun and living in warm climates. It’s mostly all resort wear.”

As much as possible, she works with sustainable fabrics such as Tencel™, Organic Viscose Batiste, organic cotton, and linen because she loves working with biodegradable fabrics that have very light and airy qualities. “I also use deadstock from other big fashion houses, which is left over fabrics from big runs they make,” she says. Gypsea Tribe caters to both men and women. “I also do custom orders so if chief stews are looking for something a little special for their girls to wear on charter, feel free to reach out.”

Gypsea Tribe Himmarshee Jacket

Getting into Yachting

For Barry, being involved in the fashion industry was the plan all along, even before she stepped onto her first yacht in August 2010 aboard M/Y Calixe for a year. “Although I have been in yachting for several years, fashion is my passion,” says Barry. “I joined yachting initially to pay for fashion school at Parsons in Paris. Before joining yachting, I earned a double bachelor’s degree in graphic design and fine arts in Canada.”

“After my studies, I returned to yachting, as I really enjoyed the creative side enough to continue on for a few more years as a stewardess and also crew chef,” she says.

Less than thrilled with the idea of sitting at a desk to do graphic design after graduating in 2012, Barry decided to first explore other ventures that would let her be creative. “So, I applied and was accepted to a post-grad course with Parsons in Paris for fashion design. In order to pay for the costly tuition, I needed to find a well-paying job — quickly!”

So she deferred for a year and joined yachting in order to raise her tuition funds. “After my studies, I returned to yachting, as I really enjoyed the creative side enough to continue on for a few more years as a stewardess and also crew chef,” she says. “I feel now I’m in a much better place in life to pursue my passion for fashion. I have a studio in my home in Fort Lauderdale and the support of my awesome husband,” she says, adding that she’s still learning a lot about the business, as well as the technical aspects of fashion. While working on her brand, she’s taking online studies for the business of fashion with Parsons.

Peek into Randi Barry's process

Advice on Starting a Business

“The most important thing I have learned throughout the years is to do something that you both love and know how to do inside and out personally,” advises Barry. “Start your business while you are in yachting and test it out. Make your business plan, launch your brand, and see if you get traction. If it’s a viable business, you will have customers,” Barry says. “For example, I was sewing in my spare time, my friend bought my dress, and ended up wearing it on Below Deck. I got a lot of customers from that exposure, and it helped me to have the courage to keep going and continue making more pieces.”

Though Barry was able to sew on the weekends and evenings during her time in yachting, she really wasn’t able to throw herself into her work until she went shoreside in January.

“Start your business while you are in yachting and test it out. Make your business plan, launch your brand, and see if you get traction. If it’s a viable business, you will have customers.” 

Barry says she’s aiming to do a more official event soon. “I would love to do an event this fall when everyone is back in town as a lot of my clientele are yacht crew and others who are away are looking forward to my next pop up.”

The entrepreneur confirms she has some exciting partnership opportunities on the horizon. “The most important thing to me right now is finishing my online Business of Fashion studies with Parsons. I believe education is so important. There is a huge difference between ‘fashion’ and ‘the business of fashion’. As much as I want to be a good designer, I also need to be a good businesswoman.”

This column is taken from the September 2021 issue of Dockwalk.

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