Since her appearance on a political campaign stage in 2015 alongside her husband, Sharon Clark-Rowley has inspired admirers with her poise and eloquence.
For her part in grooming two daughters to be dignified professionals, and waging a successful 2020 re-election campaign with her husband, Prime Minister Keith Rowley, it’s undeniable that Sharon Clark-Rowley deserves some shine.
During the recent general elections, a faithful fan composed a Facebook album to pay her homage. Before you could blink, Mrs. Clark-Rowley’s style statements went viral. From classrooms to festivals to client meetings, T&T’s First Lady stays flawless. But something stood out beyond her polished presentation.
The fashion patrol discovered a blush pink Accordion Pleated Dress in Sharon Clark-Rowley’s walk-in closet may have cost just U$28.99. Regardless of whether it was a gift, that revelation led commenters to appreciate the gesture of thriftiness. Before and beyond a COVID-19 economy, budgeting is sensible and responsible. So, we asked First Lady Clark-Rowley to share from her personal playbook on managing finances and stretching resources.
“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we remember our grandparents and parents, depending on our age, and find a way to live our lives in these economically difficult times,” says Mrs. Clark-Rowley.
Growing up in Woodbrook, Mrs. Clark-Rowley and both of her sisters were tutored in ballet and piano with family vacations in Toco–hometown of her maternal grandparents. Instead of an allowance, she received spending money which she often saved. “My parents opened a bank account for me when I was eight. My mother worked at the Marine Division of the Port Authority as a Senior Clerk and my father retired as Director of the Population Programme, Ministry of Health.” By her teens she was a savvy saver. In motherhood, Mrs. Clark-Rowley applied her parents’ teachings with her own daughters. “They understood the importance of money and never spent wantonly.”
“I taught my daughters to be financially independent,” shares Mrs. Clark-Rowley. “My parents taught [us] we should be financially independent and the way to achieve that was through education.”
“My mother loved sewing, the wedding dress she made for me is a cherished treasure. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on clothes, as a young mother I made some of my clothes and some for my daughters. I enjoyed sewing. As my financial situation changed I could spend more on ready-made clothes.”
For those who feel talentless, Mrs. Clark-Rowley insists: “We all have been blessed with God-given talents. It is just for us to discover them. Seek guidance from others. Look around us, I attend UpMarket and see many people using their artistic talents: planting, cooking, making wine, jewellery. Social media is an amazing place to display one’s talents.”
Being married and maintaining an independent income requires conversation between couples around responsibility. “With a husband in politics at the level mine was/is, I often bore the greater responsibility in running the household,” explains Mrs. Clark-Rowley. “I appreciated that his dedication to his job could only redound to the benefit our children, grandchildren, and the future of Trinidad & Tobago.” “I always advise other women, if possible, to have your own bank account so you can be self-reliant if that becomes necessary.”
“I was often guided by the saying, ‘waste not want not’. As a young mother, I would set a budget and that was my guide. As my salary improved I would regulate my spending, ensuring that I maintained savings.”
“In these COVID times, I say spend wisely. Spend less discretionary money and save if you can afford to,” suggests First Lady Clark-Rowley. “We must be adaptable, creative and flexible in the face of our new situation.”