If the smell of tropical fruits and the feel of cocoa and shea butter make your senses come alive then meet Irie Rock Yaad Spa…
Irie Rock Yaad Spa
Since my SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! blog post, I interviewed a very inspirational Jamaican woman who I am very happy to support and who would defiantly be described as ‘the female boss’. Racquell Brown is the Managing Director, creative, marketing and business brains behind the brand that is ‘Irie Rock Yaad Spa’ a Jamaican beauty gem that you will want to discover….
Their flagship range of 6 lines with 10 different gorgeously scented body care products, has had a new line added which features a tea tree oil and witch hazel skin care range to further meets customers needs. Let me introduce to you the delight that is Racquell Brown and her fabulous Irie Rock Yaad Spa Range that you could be forgiven for wanting to slavour over yourself from head to foot!
Interview with Racquell Brown
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?
Racquell Brown the owner, creative and marketing force of Irie Rock Yaad Spa.
2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?
After leaving Jamaica and living in the UK in 2007, I found that I had dry and problematic skin and couldn’t find a suitable body care product in the shops. So I went to the pharmacy and natural food stores and started playing around with ingredients, taking cocoa butter, shea butter and coconut oil and mixing my own formulations, I gave some out to my friends and got a good reception. After returning to Jamaica it took 2 years to create the product ranges, 6 months later we had the first hotel customers, 6 months after that I was made redundant from my full-time job, but the next month we got one of our biggest customers.
3. Tell me about your typical working day?
Entrepeneurs and manufacturers of products have to work very hard as it’s not all glamorous. I have to take care of many things, from the business, creative, marketing and production side of things, such as checking the manufacturing side of the business and ensuring there is enough stock for suppliers, customers, direct customers and end users. In all the chaos and confusion you have to find a balance which is not always easy to find, seeing the madness going on around you and saying to yourself it will all work out. It’s important to have the confidence to know you can bring everything back together.
4. What is your company philosophy?
That each and every one of my customers big and small is pleased with service and products and truly happy.
5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?
Everything is based in Jamaica, in Spaldings, Clarendon.
6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?
Unfortunately as Jamaica does not produce many of our ingredients we have to use a combination of Jamaican and imported products, such as shea butter, which the majority of is imported. We do use Jamaican products where available, such as coffee and coconut oil. Most of the scents are imported in powdered form which is added to the ingredients.
7. Are you Jamaican?
8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?
1. The people, my customers put everything into perspective for me – our spirit is very optimistic as a people, we are very positive in the most part that things will be better tomorrow, Jamaican people think it will be better tomorrow.
2. I have found that you cannot beat the beauty of the country whilst driving around the country visiting suppliers and customers, I find it very therapeutic and it lifts your spirits taking in the landscape.
3. Jamaicans are open to the possibility of something new and different, we are very adaptive, in with new technology, we want to be the 1st movers and shakers when it comes to new things. For example, the response has been amazing to our new range of tea tree oil products. I have created a brand and want adventurous people to try it is see that is it equal or better than our international competitors.
1. The People – we feel we are entitled to things coming to us and not necessarily wanting to work for it. We are wanting to be happy and rich, but don’t always work hard enough at it. We have a feeling of entitlement.
2. The Government, what they say and do does not match up, they are not doing enough to invest in small and micro businesses and building manufacturing.
3. We don’t appreciate what we have in the richness of the culture of Jamaica, we should put ourselves on a pedestal.
9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?
Locally we are building Irie Rock brand increasing the volume of products with our tea tree and body care line. Hotels and pharmacies love the range as it is a fresh, tropical, natural, authentic Jamaican range.
We hope to expand the brand to other countries and start exporting more. We would like to see Irie Rock sitting beside international brands and people choosing Irie Rock over them as the preferred choice.
10. What is your personal favourite product that you make and why?
I use different products depending on my mood, such as the coffee body butter to energise me if I haven’t had my morning coffee, or if I want something sweet scenting I uses passion fruit, it just depends on mood. I personally sat down and created the range of flavours so I love all of them. I also use the new Facial line as its good for acne prone skin and normal skin as it contains problem solving tea tree oil.
11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?
The Everyday person. When I see vendors with the odds stacked against them and they still go out there and work. Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson also are big success stories that are truly inspiring . But on a day-to-day basis it’s being with my friends that are living their normal life on a day-to-day basis, sharing a laugh and a drink, that is what really makes a real impact and is what is making a stamp on Jamaica. Creating a legacy not only for ourselves and children, but also to make other people’s life better.
And finally me I inspire myself ;I depend on me and the grace of God to make things happen for me. You can only rely on you as an entrepeneur, you have to be able to get up out of bed when times are rough and when things aren’t as you want, you need to have the strength and drive to get up and do it.
I would also like to thank myself, as a little girl at school dreaming big, feeling and believing that you are capable of being more than what is presented and executing it. It is a learning curve knowing how you deal with it, nurturing that entrepeneur spirit and having the courage to think beyond what was being presented in front of you. There is a big world out there with so much possibility.
12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?
Most pharmacies, such as Fontana Pharmacy and gift shops and hotels island wide, especially in Kingston stock the range.
We also have a website www.irierock.com where we have lots of European customers and we ship all over the world.
13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?
With friends, the more you work, you appreciate having lunch and drinks and having fun with friends, the truth of the matter is you inspire each other, we share problems and help one and another. Doing absolutely nothing with my friends, everything we do ends up being good, even if its nothing.
14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?
It’s a lot of responsibility, and a job I never wanted, people don’t appreciate how hard that job must be. I would give more support to micro, small and medium businesses, for us to be sufficient as a nation and increase our production capacity we need the government to help and encourage us by changing the policies that are created in parliament. The customs charges are too high and can be as much as three times the cost of raw materials, we are already contributing to GCT through our businesses, we are creating foreign exchange and we would like it to be nurtured to become a giant in manufacturing. Use strategies here to help our our local industries, Trinidad offers businesses more support.
15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?
Bob Marley, when I think of how uplifting a song of his may be, if your feeling depressed it lifts your mood and transforms your mind in a way that is phenomenal. He has for a very long time, without trying put Jamaica’s name on the international map. When you think of Jamaica you think of Bob Marley, when you think of Bob Marley you think of Jamaica. A brand such as Bob Marley that you can associate with a country, for the new generation it is Usain Bolt who is the new phenomenon. But for me personally he had the most influence on me when I live abroad, its amazing how people treat you differently just through making that connection.
16. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young Jamaicans to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?
Find something that you truly love. It is sometimes the hardest thing to recognize, as sometimes we love something so much it becomes like a pastime or hobby, when we could make an honest living out of it and it doesn’t feel like work. Positive thinking is paramount. How you think is how you actually live your life, if you think it is possible, you will live positively and positive things will come, speaking it as to being it. Being negative is not an option, throughout all problems if you have a positive state of mind it gets me through, you have to think and belive that ok it will be better, because I will make sure it is better. Be positive.
17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?
I am following my dreams of creating something from nothing. I came from a working class family, always dreaming of being a business owner, but didn’t know what to do. I wanted to create something that was bigger than me. I am trying to do that, but the dream is not complete, but I am happy in the direction it is heading. If it was another business, I would want to be able to create something.
18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?
National bakery. When another company takes a smaller company and nurtures them, being a mentor to smaller company. Their generosity of information and knowledge and giving someone else the spotlight, we are selfish by nature and want it all. But the fact that they have been able to do that in a big way, is very inspiring. I would like to mimic and copy them as my business grows, as it is essential to give back. Through our Passion Fruit Scent we give back as it is our charity line. Each year we choose a charity and the give profits to them. We have chosen the ‘Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation this year. I am passionate about Jamaican Cancer Society and would choose it every year as it is dear to my heart, but in order to not be biased, I have a team of people that help choose. We are also looking at assisting communities at grass-roots levels, such as the charity ‘Marys Child’ which we are supporting next year.
19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s ongoing success?
90% of business come from local hotels and referrals. We are not only selling products, we deal with our customers as we would want to be treated. When sitting with a customer we get to understand our customers wants and needs, we have helped to rearrange stores to increase sales. If you support them they will eventually support you. You will create a linkage, a bond and a solid relationship because you are investing in their dream and aspiration, so they will become the interested in your dream and aspiration too.
20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?
Whether in Jamaica or our International customers we keep intimacy with them, by being professional with a personal touch. When you are finished dealing with a customer they thank you for it and we thank the customer, for saying thank you.
21. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?
Start small. We can all do something in a small way. We manufacture Jamaican goods and hope that people support us.
22.What are your aspirations for Jamaica?
Get national security in order in terms of getting the crime rate down, getting outside investors trusting the Jamaican brand not because of Bob Marley or Usain Bolt, but because Jamaica is the ideal location. For us to truly embrace the things that will bring us to the next level. Nuturing micro and small business and bringing investors in Jamaica.
23. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?
I support it whole heartedly. In order for us a nation to move beyond where we are we need to start buying our own. As manufacturers we need to make sure we are equally comparative or better than our competitors. If we buy international products we should also be willing to buy our local products as well.
Thanks Racquell it was a pleasure interviewing you…. anytime you need a product tester ‘hail me up!’
Want to learn more, buy something or get in touch with Irie Rock® you can do it here:
Irie ROCK …” The Love Of All Things Natural” ….Your Jamaican Treat
Press Captions on Irie Rock 2012