Fashion designer, author, social activist and Moda Goa Museum Managing trustee, Wendell Rodricks wears many hats. The guru of minimalism, Padma Shri awardee and recipient of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), Wendell has a long and impressive list of accolades. Few, however, know that the international celebrity he is today is a far cry from the young man who had to initially face many obstacles and hurdles and overcome them with grit, determination, faith and loads of encouragement. He shares with NT KURIOCITY.
Maria Fernandes | NT
“Not many are aware that till the age of 23, I had a stutter,” discloses Wendell. Working as assistant director of the Royal Oman Police Officers Club in the city of Muscat, he had to often interact with high-profile guests like sultans, princes and heads of states besides other celebrities such as Sultan Qaboos of Oman, president George H W Bush, Prince Phillip, the crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, etc. “In my job, I had to be able to speak clearly and confidently and a stutter just wouldn’t do. I use to be extremely nervous and never thought I would overcome this impediment.” But he did, and credits his partner, Jerome Marrel, for the change. “My partner believed in me completely and used to encourage me every day. He had faith in me and that belief and constant motivation enabled me to overcome my stammer in under six months.”
Another obstacle he cites is changing from the hospitality industry in which he was employed for six years to the fashion industry. “My job in Oman was paying handsomely. So when I decided to switch to fashion design and start over again as a student, I received a lot of criticism and disbelief. My parents were aghast at the prospect and my mum said: ‘I can see your board outside – Rodricks and Sons, Tailors and Outfitters.’ But I had discovered my passion and knew what I wanted to do.” So with all his savings Wendell went to Paris and America to study and pursue his dream. He did not just do well but exceptionally well. “I had complete faith in myself and again Jerome was there to encourage and back me. His unfailing support and faith helped me tremendously. If you have faith in yourself you can overcome any obstacle.”
Casa Dona Maria is Wendell’s home which he is converting into a museum of Goan sartorial traditions. “I wanted to leave back a legacy and when I decided to convert my home, people thought I was insane to give the house away as a legacy to Goa and India. You can sell it and get a very good price, they said. But after I got my Padma Shri, I wanted to leave a legacy behind. So three years ago we moved to a smaller house in the village and converted the five-bedroom home into a 16 gallery Moda Goa Museum & Research Centre. Like with everything I do, it will be of international quality and will be India’s first Costume Museum. There are many textile museums but no costume museum in the country.”
“Obstacles are challenges we must face head on and overcome them with hard work, belief in oneself and determination. As Napoleon said: ‘Impossible is a word in the dictionary of fools’. I believe strongly in that mantra.”