Category Archives: Interviews

Get the latest scoop about all that is great and good in Jamaica with our selection of interviews.

Stacks of Jamaican Pretty Little Tings

Stacks of Jamaican Pretty Little Tings

You may recall from my recent feature on ‘Anya Goes to Jamaica’, that there was a beautiful collectable bracelet and anklet made by ‘Pretty Little Tings’, that went with the book. The jewellery was specially commissioned by the author from a Jamaican creative, so that the ‘souvenir’ was authentic and supported a small business in the country that the book was written about. I thought this was such a brilliant idea and another reason I just love the concept of the Anya World Traveller Series. It demonstrates a simple way that we can go about supporting each other in our business endeavours, by collaborating with other small businesses.

I have to admit I couldn’t resist looking up ‘Pretty Little Tings’ to see the rest of the range that Tena, the designer behind the brand has on offer. But now I have a problem… Tena has soooo many designs that are drop dead gorgeous, I would be clad from wrist to shoulder and ankle to hip in them if I wore them all at once!

The rest of the collection goes far beyond the designs used for the children’s book commission. There are some really unique pieces that can be infused with aromatherapy oils, a selection with metallic patterned vegan friendly leather and a large part of the collection is unisex, so the men can get in on the action too. I caught up with the multi-talented Tena, whose line of products she designs and hand makes herself, to learn more about how she is going from strength to strength with her jewellery line that is so beautiful it is hard to choose just one.

Please Introduce Yourself

“My name is Tena Harrison. I recently turned 25 years old and I’m a chef by profession. I am currently living in the United States, temporarily for work purposes, but I’m originally from the Kingston 13 area. I attended Holy Childhood High School for Girls and University of Technology, where I studied Hospitality and Tourism with a major in Culinary Arts. I have three older sisters on my mom’s side, three nieces and two nephews.”

When and Why did you launch Pretty Little Tings JA

“I started Pretty Little Ting Ja (PLT) in November 2015 after graduating from UTECH. I was unable to find a job after months of sending out resumes and sitting at home doing nothing. PLT should have started off from 2011, but you know what they say nothing happens before its time.

It started out of my love of beads, bracelets and working with my hands. Nothing makes me happier than something I created myself. I used to make them for myself and would get asked about them, so one day while sitting at home a friend of mine asked why don’t I start making bracelets and selling them online. So we put our heads together that day and came up with the name, created the Instagram page, I ordered beads and the rest is history.

My relaunch took place because I relocated to the U.S. because of a recent job opportunity, so I’ll be working and living here for a year. I had to put PLT on hold in order to get myself sorted.

The business is getting better with time as I’m constantly learning about what my clients and potential clients like and I do a lot of research on the materials that I use for each of my pieces. Like my tagline says, Made with a Purpose. I want to give the wearer something they can put on and know that it holds a significant meaning and most of the pieces that I make are made with stones or charms that have healing properties and acts as a reminder. For example Tiger’s eye stone has long been used to aid in protection and strength.

PLT is still young but I definitely see it getting better with time. The jewellery making community is very large, but I think you can still stand out once you know what you’re doing. Although I am a chef by profession, I dabble in a little bit of everything. Making jewellery is not just my hobby turned business, but a passion of mine.”

 

I noticed your Motto is ‘Made with a Purpose, Made to Inspire’ Tell us About That

“As mentioned above my motto means that no matter what I make, there is a meaning behind it based on the materials that I use. For example, Onyx for protection, wooden beads to bring the wearer closer to nature, vinyl beads for the purpose of recycling, rudraksha seeds for enlightenment, Amazonite the stone of hope and courage, Hematite stone, for the mind. The lists goes on, but a lot of thought goes in each piece I make.

As a person who can be very forgetful at times I make pieces for myself and for others that will be a reminder to us. So we wear our intentions, affirmations and goals as a constant reminder so that we can become a better version of ourselves. It’s kind of like self-help if you wish to put it like that.

I do research because I want to make sure that I know what I’m talking about and through research I come up with even more ideas and concepts that I can apply to PLT. In addition to that I can make better decisions.”

 

Pretty Little Tings River Beads

 

What Motivated you to become an Entrepreneur

“Just before I started PLT I had just graduated from UTECH, so I was a student. What drove me to become an entrepreneur was the realisation that nothing will be handed to me, I had to work for what I want. I learnt that very early as I grew up in the garrison and coming from a lower middle class family, that was my daily reality. I always knew I wanted to be my own boss as the benefits of being one out weighed that of an employee.”

 

Have you had any Formal Training

“I have no formal training in jewelry making. Everything is self taught through trial and error, watching videos, deconstructing store bought jewellery to see how they were made, online research and a lot of reading. I studied some business subjects in high school and business studies was apart of the course at UTECH, so I have knowledge of the business aspect of PLT which I’m very grateful for.”

 

What Inspired you to use your Hands Creatively

“I’ve always loved working with my hands. I’m drawn to things of that nature which is why I chose my career of becoming a chef. I was always creative and that can be credited to my upbringing. As we Jamaicans say, ‘we tun wi han and mek fashion’. Meaning if you didn’t have what you needed, you have to find creative ways to make it happen so I always did that and it stuck with me throughout the years. Like food I was drawn to jewellery making because it involved my hands and being creative. It’s like art and I love that. I love to draw, I can do hair, I love carving & fashion designing.”

Describe your Product Range

“My products fall under the categories of bracelets, anklets and recently rings and necklaces. My customers are mainly persons on a spiritual journey and lovers of gemstones and crystals like myself. What is unique about my product range is that they are unisex, they appeal to a large age group and there is something for everyone and if I don’t have it I can make it. Custom work is always welcomed.

The most memorable person who has bought from me is Nikko FungChung, who recently released her book Anya Goes to Jamaica. She purchased anklets and bracelets from me as souvenirs for her young readers. In the book Anya goes to Jamaica and on her travels takes back souvenirs as reminders of her travels and Nikko brought that to life with my bracelets and anklets. I was blown out of the water because she chose me and my business out of the pool of Jamaican handmade businesses. I am humbled and greatly appreciative for the opportunity I was given.”

Learn More: Nikko FungChung – Anya World Traveller Book Series Interview

 

 

What Materials do you use in your Designs

“The materials that I use in my pieces range from gemstones, crystals, glass, metals, seeds, wood and even recycled materials. I choose materials based on the piece I’m making and what would be best suited to do the job. I often try to find unique materials, things I’ve never seen before, then I search for them online. Most of my materials are sourced internationally, however there are a few Jamaican based crafters I have contacted in hope that they can be future suppliers to my business. I want to use more local based suppliers.”

Where do you get your Inspiration From

“I get my inspiration from nature, especially with the colours and the wooden materials I use. I’m always searching for new ideas on the web too, but only for ideas never to replicate. I even get inspiration from my customers. Sometimes they come to me with ideas and we feed off each other and come up with ideas together.

The use of vegan friendly materials because I’m not for the use of animal skin or materials that involve cruelty to animals. Although I was not formally trained I’ve come a long way, looking back at my earlier pieces to my more recent ones the difference is clear that I’ve come a long way.”

 What are your Favourite Pieces from the Collection

“If it was left up to me I would wear them up to my elbows and knees. Many times I have to remind myself that they are for the customers and I always create something for myself in every batch I create. My favourite pieces to date are the vinyl bracelets as they are made from recycled old records and I love to reuse and repurposed materials. I wear my bracelets based on mood and based on the properties they have. I can always be caught with at least one bracelet on and I’m ALWAYS in my anklets, I never take them off, not even to shower.”

 

Tell us about your Collaboration with Nikko FungChung, author of the Anya World Traveller Book Series  

“What I gained from this experience is that nothing is impossible. Nikko came to me at a time when I was unsure about PLT’s future. It made me more confident in my business and the places I could take it and vice versa. We worked together, she told me what she was looking for and I designed them. Nikko approved the design and we went forward with the deal. Things were very smooth and I would work with her again in a heartbeat.”

 

 

Have you been involved in other Collaborations

“Apart from my collaboration with Nikko, myself and some other small businesses did a collaboration for a mother’s day giveaway last year. We all put together our products and made gift baskets and we ran the promotion on our pages and selected the winners via votes. All the contestants had to do was to tell us what makes their mom so great and why she should receive the basket filled with goodies that ranged from footwear to skincare.

The other businesses involved were Button It Ja (@buttonitja), Bella Scents (@bellscentsja), Madison Accessories and More, House of Deva Bandeau (@houseofdevabandeau), Kreamy Kurls (@kreamykurls), Fitzgerald’s Boutique (@fitzgeraldsboutique) and Dwayne K Smith (@dksmithphotoz).

The experience was great as I got to make new friends and possible business partners. We cross promoted our businesses and found new customer, snot to mention we made three moms very happy.”

What can we look forward to from Pretty Little Tings in the Future

“I see Pretty Little Tings Ja in stores as well as being sold online on a full feature website. I see us taking off as I continue to learn more about my customers wants as well as this market. I see PLT using local materials and I would love to create my own beads from clay, sea glass etc… I can’t give away too much yet. I would love to have a small staff at some point to help with the workload to contribute to the economy and to provide employment for others.

There’s still a long way to go, but I see endless possibilities. I hope to be commissioned to do awareness pieces for example Autism, Breast Cancer etc and if not commissioned, I will definitely be including pieces of this nature.

I get tired of things easily and I don’t really like a rigid routine. So I make new pieces when I feel it’s time for a breath of fresh air, or whenever I experiment and I like the outcome I build on this and create new things (no pun intended).”

 Pretty Little Tings Grid

 

Tena’s Insider Guide to Jamaica

It wouldn’t be a Sweet Jamaica exclusive interview, if I didn’t get some insider tips for getting the most out of Jamaica! So in the words of the fabulous Tena, check out how you can get round to hitting all the hot spots in Jamaica…

Favourite Jamaican Childhood Memories and Pastimes

“Growing up on Chisholm Avenue I would always look forward to coming home from school and buying boiled crab whenever they were in season from an old lady down the road. She did it the best and her boiled corn are my second favourite. I used to chew even the cob!”

 

Tena on Why Jamaica is an Ideal Vacation Destination

“People who are looking to get closer to nature, to be minimalist because when you come to Jamaica it’s not very extravagant. There’s also the herbalist and the hedonist, not the people necessarily looking for sand sun and sea. They’re looking to immerse themselves in a rich and diverse culture that is unique and welcoming. It’s a creative space where you can find a smooth balance of freedom and free thought.

I love Jamaica because I feel free and at ease, there’s no place like home and I don’t think could feel this good existing in another country. We are just different in every sense of the word. It’s hard to explain, you have to live it to know.

Even though our economy is constantly changing we as Jamaicans still maintain what makes us Jamaican, even though many people try to duplicate what we have. The authentic Jamaica will always be in Jamaica. Even though we face hardships we can still tun bad tings mek joke, we constantly find a reason to smile. Visitors should come to Jamaica because it’s beautiful, there is always something to do, they’ll experience something different, it’s a little bit of paradise. It will be money well spent and an experience to remember.

I’m in the States now but whenever people hear that I’m Jamaican they take immediate interest.  Some ask questions or tell me of a time they visited, or of a time a friend or relative did and would recall their experiences from the time they got their hair braided for the first time, climbed Dunn’s River Falls, taking a robot taxi and the list goes on.”

 

Pretty Little Tings Turquoise Bracelets

 

Tena’s – Favourite Island Hide-Aways for a Weekend in Jamaica

“I’ve only visited twice, but Portland is just a different kind of beauty. It was breathtaking. The journey was long from Kingston, but I didn’t get an ounce of sleep because I was so taken by the beauty of the landscape. I was in awe. I love nature and I felt at peace during that drive, the fresh air, the green landscape, the vibrant corner shops, the blue sea and waves washing the shores. I’ve never been to all the parishes, but Portland is definitely at the top of my list of parishes to stay. I could even be staying in a hut, I know I would be enjoying myself.”

 

Tena’s Highlights about Living in Jamaica

“I love being in Half Way Tree, the people are like characters. I can always get a laugh from the loader men shouting, “dung a town” or “3 Mile, 3 Mile”. I love the hustle and bustle. You can get anything there and I feel the same about Down Town as well. Yes both places have a bad reputation, but I do love to go to these places.”

 

Tena’s Top Five Places to Visit in Jamaica

  1. Down Town / Coronation Market – Kingston
  2. Half Way Tree – Kingston
  3. Cross Roads – Kingston
  4. St. Ann (the Parish)
  5. Portmore/ Hellshire

 

Tena’s Favourite Businesses – My Shout Outs!

“I love handmade businesses and since starting PLT my eyes have been opened to so many and I cheer them on and show my support to them all the time whether through buying their products, reposting, commenting and liking their pictures and they always return the love.”

My favourite businesses that I’d like to shout out are:

Ngozi’s Sweet Blessing (@ngozisweetblessings)

Button it Ja (@buttonitja)

Chrissy’s Coils (@chrissy_coils)

Siwatu Jewelry (@siwatujewelry)

Madison’s Accessories & More (@madisons.accessories)

By Monique Jones (@momopenellidesigns).

“The list goes on, big up to everyone who are #brandjamaica #handmade and #jamaicanbased.”

“We affi dance a yard before we dance abroad.”

 

Pretty Little Tings Rings

 

Tena’s Most Loved Jamaican Culture, Food and Customs

“There is nothing better than Jamaican food. As a “bellias” by nature I love food and with the spices and seasonings Jamaicans use, everything we make is finger licking good. My favourites include but are not limited to : Breadfruit (roast or fry), Curry Goat, Red Peas Soup, Stewed Peas, Jerk Chicken, Run Dung with boiled food, Ackee and Saltfish or with Red Herring; with fried dumplings, boiled food, rice… You name it.

My favourite traditions are Easter time for bun and cheese… Yum! Christmas time for the extravagant meals we have and of course Independence Day. Our culture is surrounded by food and liveliness, there is never a dull moment in our culture.

Emancipation Park and Devon House are also landmarks in Jamaica; some of my favourite places to unwind, relax and just chill at my on pace.”

 

Pretty Little Tings – Stockists

“My products can be purchased directly on my Instagram page @prettylittletingsja or on my Etsy shop Pretty Little Tings Ja. It is currently closed, but it should be up and running by the end of February (2017), once I put together the listings. Delivery is offered, but because I am currently in the US the logistics is a bit different here. I can send my pieces to my Jamaican customers through the mail or even better, if they have a US mailing address shipping is faster and cheaper.

When I’m in Jamaica I offer delivery through Jamaica Post via regular mail, or the oh so convenient Zip Mail. So no matter where you are I will get my pieces to you. Customers are welcomed to contact me directly, via WhatsApp, Instagram and Etsy message. Contact me and we will work something out.

Custom work is welcomed, because I love making specific pieces and sometimes a customer might want particular colors, charms, stones, arrangements etc and I have no problem fulfilling their requests. I get inspiration from this.

I try to make my pieces as affordable as possible so the price range of my pieces are from $1,000- $4,500 (Jamaican Dollars). Price is dependent on materials, time it takes for me to complete the piece and the design.”

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

“Pretty Little Tings is run by a human, so don’t be afraid to contact me.”

 

Pretty Little Tings Followers

 

Please leave your thoughts on the ‘Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican!’ campaign on the Sweet Jamaica website?

“I wholeheartedly support the ‘Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican’ campaign. As a customer myself I try to seek out products I use everyday in Jamaica, which are made by Jamaicans. Rather than looking abroad first because we have a lot of talented persons here, whether certified or self-taught. They make wonderful products and offer great service, but because some of us have ‘red eye’ we tend to think anything made here is not good enough.

I try to change that mindset of persons who hold this view by telling them about all the wonderful companies I’ve come across in my search, the numbers are astounding. And what makes them so good is that you know the source.

I’m a lover of skincare and haircare products and a lot of companies here in Jamaica make better versions of their international counterparts with ingredients that are better for you and can be pronounced. I buy Jamaican and support Jamaicans, our brands need the money just as much as any other brand.

More persons need to get on board and be proud to wear, use and eat Jamaican products because we are supporting each other, creating jobs, providing for a family and building OUR economy.”

 

Pretty Little Tings – Contact Details

WhatsApp –   (+1) 876-542-9122

Instagram – @prettylittletingsja

Etsy  Shop – Pretty Little Tings Ja.

 

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Keep the Conversation Going….

What is your favourite piece from the Pretty Little Tings Collection?

Share your experience and join the Comments Below….

 

Want to Read more Jamaican Interviews? Head Over Here…

Want to learn more about my Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican! Campaign? Head over here…

 




There’s a New Bag Crush in Town…

There’s a New Bag Crush in Town…

After eyeing up some bags online, I was struck by the non-stop comments from customers asking about ‘bulk orders’ – as they were unable to choose just one bag from the collection. So I tracked down the in-demand designer behind the brand, GGoC by Nicole to find out more. And now I have, I am totally smitten!

Not one to keep this kind of information to myself, I would like to introduce you to another fabulous Jamaican company. And this one will make accessories fans speculate on how they can justify multiple bag purchases at once. You have been warned, you better start creating some space in your suitcase and wardrobe, because you are going to want to give new homes to a few of these beauties.

GGoC by Nicole

God’s Gift of Creativity, is an aptly named accessory line, as there is definitely something of the ‘divine’ nature to the pieces on offer. The collection is Made in Jamaica and features local and international printed fabrics mixed and matched with embossed and smooth Vegan friendly leatherette or 100% real leather. Some of which are made extra special with embellishments made from repurposed pieces of semi-precious and costume jewellery. Drawing inspiration from her personal style and taste, Nicole is well on her way to ensuring there is a catwalk worthy piece for every occasion and personality in her collection.

One of the reasons I am smitten with GGoC by Nicole, apart from the beautiful bags, is Nicole herself. Nicole is one of those people who you can’t help but immediately warm to. From our first correspondence, I was drawn in by her genuine, warm and affable character. Which lead her to not only to be happy to share her story on the website, but also extended to her offering her assistance and support to my own endeavours, despite her being a busy mother and serial entrepreneur herself.

 

Sweet Jamaica – Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!

Meeting women like Nicole, reaffirms why I love writing these features to highlight Jamaica’s up and coming entrepreneurs and businesses. It affords me the opportunity to collaborate and share the stories of some of the most inspirational, strong, ambitious, resilient, driven, creative and beautiful souls in Jamaica. Who are down to earth, real, spirited and willing to offer support and share their experience, scrapes and all.

It brings it home that there are ‘real people’ behind the products and brands that we buy. People like you and me. People who have had the courage to step outside of their comfort zone and put everything on the line to carve out their own niche and destiny.

Supporting these Jamaican companies means supporting a household, because behind these SMME’s (small, medium and micro enterprises) there are parents trying to send their children to school, young adults trying to make a foundation on which to build and the experienced in life, turning their time and skills into sugar money. Amen.

On that note, I would like to introduce you to Nicole Clarke the brainchild of the GGoC brand, who is a perfect embodiment of this, as she shares her story and divulges her favourite things about the beautiful island of Jamaica…

 

 

 GGoC by Nicole

Please Introduce Yourself

“I am Nicole, the middle child of three for Clarence and Norma Clarke. I started my early education at Mona Prep, but I didn’t spend more than a year there as we migrated to Calgary Canada, where we would spend 6 years. During that time we received our Canadian citizenship.

We returned to Jamaica in January 1984 leaving little time to prepare for the Common Entrance exam on the “second try” at Immaculate Prep. Passed for Immaculate High and spent six wonderful years which shaped the individual I am today. I met many lifelong friends and value the discipline that was instilled by St. Maureen Claire; I was AFRAID of her.”

 

What lead you to launch GGoC by Nicole

“After I left 6th form I went straight into the family business, Windows Limited, which taught me so many lessons and shaped my work ethic and passion for customer service. I started with answering phones and moved up to dads right hand.

But the desire to chart my own path kept at me and I decided to move away from the family business when a friend who’s father had recently died needed a General Manager for that company. It was a great opportunity and more lessons were learnt, but this is not where I was meant to be.

In November 2015 while searching for something for the company I came across a red fabric that I fell in love with and intended to make a clutch for my sister for Christmas. But, I made it and it sold, them I made another and it too sold. The rest is history.

When I lost that job due to restructuring, I went head on into GGoC by Nicole. The first clutches were made by my shoemaker, but he lacked the eye for the finishing detail so I went in search of someone who could. A couple seamstresses later, I found my secret weapon who has been making them for me since. I can make them myself if needs be but due to time constraints, he does most of the work.

I also run another company GGoC Screens, so my time has to be divided between the two.”

Tell Us About – GGoC by Nicole

“So GGoC means Gods Gift of Creativity. I guess I always had this creative gene because I remember while at the family business, designing and making glass tables from the scrap glass and selling them in furniture stores downtown. GGoC by Nicole started in December 2014 and has been growing slowly but steadily since.

We are exploring the Caribbean market and are working on some new products that should be out in about a month. Currently, we ship to the United States and Canada and I am always besides myself when I see someone pictured with one of my bags.”

 

GGoC by Nicole

What inspired you to use your hands ‘creatively’?

“I think I was born with the ability to make something out of nothing. ‘Turn my hand mek fashion’ sort of thing, so I’ve been able to do much with little.

I am the go to for art projects and musical projects with nieces and nephew and daughter. And, once upon a time I was a part of a singing group. I’ve written and produced music so I suppose the creative passion has always been burning.”

Describe the Pieces that you Create

“We recently started a leather line (to complement the leatherette line), as we have customers asking for genuine leather products. That has been exciting and we look forward to the growth of that line.

My daughter has (12 years) and loves them and my mother has and loves hers too (over 70 years). My wish / dream is to have at least one product for every person – clutch, crossbody, purse, phone cases. I am not placing a limit on what we can design, create and appeal to.”

 

Where do you get your Original Creative Inspiration from?

“A friend of mine worked in Nairobi and used to bring me the most beautiful fabrics from the market. I still have quite a few pieces which I use, but I also use local fabrics to mix and match and come up with new designs.

A high school friend Cared a who sells jewellery in Philadelphia, sent me a bag of mismatched or broken pieces of jewellery that I have affixed to some of the clutches. They’re always a hit. So if there that pair of earrings that you’ve lost one, and wish to keep the other, we can design a clutch around it.

We love to do custom work as ultimately we want each client to feel their money is well spent and feel like their outfit is complete with our piece. In turn stepping out with poise and confidence.”

 

What can we look forward to in the Future From GGoC

“In 3-5 years we hope to be a household name, synonymous with fashion.  We have new products coming out in a few weeks and we add something to the GGoC line annually. As well as tweaking our current products, we listen to our customers and try to design around their needs and desires.”

 

GGoC by Nicole

 

GGoC by Nicole Insider Guide to Jamaica

Always on the look out for the best spots in Jamaica and some insider tips to share with my readers, I have asked Nicole for her expert opinion on these matters…

 

What are your favourite childhood pastimes and memories

“In Jamaica I would spend many summers with my grandmother and cousins in Westmoreland and my uncle had an ice cream store called Road Runner. That was a highlight for sure. She had a big yard and sold eggs so we would go in the coop and help collect eggs. I have fond memories of this.

We didn’t spend summers in Canada, but during the year I have great memories of riding my bicycle around the neighbourhood and pulling my brother around in our red wagon.”

 

GGoC by Nicole – Favourite Jamaican Hangouts

“Now, I spend a lot of time at home, but I visit Centre Stage now and then to see a local play – aren’t they the best? Jamaicans are soo talented!

I love sushi and eat at Roe, now and then and visit Uncorked for wine; both at Sovereign North. Norma’s on Whitehall avenue is a MUST, especially the Oxtail!”

 

GGoC by Nicole

 

GGoC by Nicole – Tell us what you love about Jamaica

“Jamaican people are warm, extremely friendly and we love to entertain. Our falls, our beaches and food are to die for and the weather is warm and sunny. Sounds so clichéd but its true.

There’s something for everyone. Nightlife is busy and bustling, our Dancehall culture appeals to so many. Our reggae music, our athletes. Our musicians. We really do have it all.

As Jamaicans we sometimes take this for granted. It’s when our visitors come and we take them around that we really appreciate what we have. For me anyway.”

 

GGoC by Nicole – Favourite Island Hide-Aways for a Weekend in Jamaica

“There’s always someone to stay with when exploring the island but when I want to relax and veg out, Grand Bahia Principe is great to visit, as are the Riu chains.

Deep rural or in the bush is always great for exploring and seeing the island’s vegetation. Chances are you’ll discover one of our many waterfalls. Country people are especially friendly and accommodating.

If you want to do nothing but read a book or sleep under the warm rays of the sun, the beach is the place to be. Negril and Ocho Rios are my faves. Robins Bay in St. Mary also has beautiful beaches.”

 

GGoC by Nicole – Highlights about Living in Jamaica

“Jamaica is unique. We try to make light of bad experiences to help us get through them. You can hardly go a day without a deep belly laugh. Our comedy, our music, our scenery, our talents on a whole are exceptional”

 

Places Fixed on GGoC by Nicole Jamaican Speed Dial

“I’m adventurous and spontaneous so am always trying somewhere new, I haven’t been ATV riding but dying to! Nothing on speed dial except my bank and the office. I travel with the telephone directory, LOL.”

 

GGoC by Nicole – Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

“I love your website. I’m extremely proud of the fruits of our Jamaican talents. I don’t think we get enough support locally, but we have to keep at it.”

 

GGoC by Nicole – Your thoughts on the ‘Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican!’ Campaign

“Absolutely fabulous and inspiring. Thank you so much for your support! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”

 

Where can we find your Collection

I’ve showcased the items and bazaars and trunk shows and friend’s houses and the bags are available in Jamaica at Gaychel Boutique On Windsor Avenue, Heather LAINE on Lancaster Avenue and Endless Summer in Lower Manor Park Plaza.

 

GGoC by Nicole

 

 

GGoC by Nicole Contact Details and Purchasing

If you would like to learn more about GGoC by Nicole, or if you want to purchase an item please check out the links below:

Website www.ggocbynicole.com

Facebook www.facebook.com/GGoC-by-Nicole

Instagram @ggocbynicole

 

 

 

Get More From Sweet Jamaica – Join Us Here…

Want to get updates on the move then join us…

FaceBook Page

Twitter feed @sweetjamaicajul 

Instagram

 

Keep the Conversation Going….

What is your favourite piece from the GGoC by Nicole Collection?

Share your experience and join the Comments Below….

 

Want to Read more Jamaican Interviews? Head Over Here…

Want to learn more about my Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican! Campaign? Head over here…

 




Bringing Values back to Jamaica through Children’s Literature

Bringing Values back to Jamaica through Children’s Literature

There is no denying that raising children comes with a fresh set of challenges in the modern age. Brought on by the fall of values, morals and manners in society, with a hearty side order of information overload, care of the Internet and social media. You can end up feeling that no matter how much ‘broughtupsy’ (good manners) you impress on your child in the home, outside influences are impinging on your child every time they leave your side.

What if there was a way to imprint values on your child that they carried with them into adulthood, so that the shift was in society instead?…

Introducing the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

There is a new author that is making a splash on the children’s literary scene who is doing just that with her eye-catching titled  ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ book series. Fresh from launching the first three books in the series at the end of 2016, I reached out to the author Catherine Alexander-McDaniel to learn more about the books and to help raise awareness for this great Jamaican book series, which strikes the perfect balance between enlightening and engaging a child.

How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney Book SeriesJamaican Author

Catherine never yearned to be an author and wasn’t involved in the publishing or literary industries in any way. But she was a hard-working entrepreneur and a wife and a mother of two boys, who had a revelation one day. This idea manifested itself into a book series with a strong message of values and restoring awareness of our actions.

Unlike most authors Catherine has a higher mission for the book series, as she wants to share the messages not only among fellow parents, but also with other social groups and educational facilities. After finding the time to dedicate herself to this new chapter in her life on leaving her earlier business behind her, Catherine collaborated with some fellow Jamaican creatives and so the thoroughly Jamaican ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ book series was born.

I caught up with Catherine to discover how her revelation gave her new purpose and she stepped into the world of children’s literature with a series of books. Plus for good measure I also share her insider tips on how to do Jamaica like a pro!

Introduce Yourself

“I was born in Montreal, Quebec to two Jamaican parents, we moved back to Jamaica when I was 7 years old and have never wanted to leave. I met my husband at my first job as a sales rep for his family owned company. We will be married 12 years this year and have 2 boys, aged 11 and 7 years. It was never an aspiration to be an author, in fact I don’t think I even speak well. ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ is a message in the form of books that God impressed upon me to write.”

 

What Inspired you to write the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

“As I indicated above, this was not a dream of mine that I was pursuing. I hurt very much for Jamaica. I love this country, I love the people yet I see how we make excuses for our actions or we don’t even recognise what we are doing because we are too busy and/or consumed with our own lives.

These three scenarios came quite easily to me. In January 2016 the thought came to me, but it wasn’t until after I left my job that I had the time, motivation and dedication to do it. It was almost as if everything fell into place. I had a past client of mine who created baby books on Amazon – Zunammie Keren, I went to her for direction and she ended up putting the entire series together! She also was the one who pushed me and set goals so we could have it completed by Dec 2016. So said, so done.”

 

With a Grateful Heart

 

Describe Your Creative Journey

“The creatives ones are Krystal Ball the Illustrator and Zunammie Keren the Editor and publisher. I had an idea of what the end result should be, but they are the ones who made it happen. It was a struggle to find an illustrator locally. I almost gave up. Most ‘illustrators’ turn out to be graphic designers, or local artist who are quite pricey. I found Krystal on Instagram and reached out to her as I thought her art was beautiful. She also believed in my vision and trusted that I would be a positive representation of the books that bear her name. For that I am grateful.”

 

Tell us About the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

“I started off doing all three books at the same time.  My target audience being ages 6 and up. I wanted them to reflect our culture, so the books don’t necessarily depict the ideal family and each book also has a theme value.

The names used in the books are my closest friends children and my own two boys to which the books are dedicated. While Liar, Liar Pants on Fire is the book that came out the best, in terms of looks, my favorite is the book dedicated to my boys, Practice What Yuh Preach. It is also a constant reminder to myself :).”

 

Brief Synopsis of the Storyline – Book 1, 2 and 3

 

Book 1 – With A Grateful Heart – reflects compassion and selflessness

Zachary is from a modest home. His Mom has to work hard to make ends meet. This particular day he is promised a treat for his birthday but Zachary soon forgets there is a limit to what he can spend. As with any young child, his mother has to remind him about the value of money. His greed quickly turns to compassion as he stops and considers another child’s need.

 

Book 2 – Liar, Liar Pants on Fire – reflects honesty and humility

Savannah is a well-behaved little girl who is raised by her Uncle and Grandma. She knows that lying is wrong but she is told to do it by her uncle who is her father figure. Luckily her Grandma walks in at the right time to explain that even adults can make mistakes and mislead those who look up to them.

 

Book 3 – Practise What Yuh Preach – reflects respect and manners

Jacob is the youngest in his family and a bit sheltered from the outside world. He gets to go on the road with his older brother and gets confused when he sees how people interact in the store. After he ‘passes his place’ with the cashier, an elderly lady has to explain to him that he is not to blame as everyone is setting a bad example for him to follow.

 

Liar Liar Pants on Fire Book

 

How have you Determined the Content for the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

“In my walk as a Christian, I struggle daily with self-improvement and being a good example. Some days you really want to run away from the kids of just go off on them when you are tired, stressed or just having a bad day. I realised I have to make a conscious decision to curb what I may feel and focus on doing the right thing. Children learn by example and watch our every move. Children are a reflection of what they see and hear.

Even though we all know this, we seem to have forgotten or we justify our actions somehow to ourselves. Parenting is a tough job and an endless job. They need guidelines and discipline and they need it delivered in the right way.

My books may be a drop in the bucket but this is my contribution to improving our little island.”

 

Future Goals for the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

“I plan to keep adding to the series as there are so many scenarios I can bring to life in a book. I am currently asking for support from private companies and foundations to sponsor the local printing of books to distribute to communities. I would love to be involved in engaging the children and guardians in these communities on values and morals if the sponsors see fit. I hope to see this series to be as popular as Anansi stories were in past generations.”

 

Where can we Purchase the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

Hard copies have not yet been printed in Jamaica, but are forthcoming.

All three books are on Amazon – hard and soft copy for Kindle / eReaders

Ebooks available on bookfusion.com – a new platform created by Jamaicans in Washington DC

 

Why You and the Children in your life will love the ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series

The books teach children the importance of values by creating modern day Jamaican tales, with a good old fashioned message interwoven into the pages. With colourful illustrations and engaging storyline, both boys and girls will be clamouring to read the books and the ‘hidden’ messages will soak in.

The ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ book series is another great advocate for literature featuring a host of main characters that are black and from other mixed ethnicities. With the illustrations depicting scenes and examples of life in a Caribbean home they are full of appeal and I cannot wait to see how the series progresses.

I really feel these books will make a great addition to any child’s book case and are a fun way to teach children values and humility and how to be a better person. With three books already available this Jamaican author shows no sign of slowing down and has big plans for her future publications to create a shift in the dynamics of society.

 

What is Nature Versus Nuture

The debate of ‘nature versus nuture’ has one that has long been fought among psychologists, physicians and philosophers. Where they consider whether personality traits are inherited and carried down through the generations, or gathered through life experiences both in and out of the home.

Why is this important? Learning about values and morals works as a code of conduct, or a guide as to how to live your life among others in respect, peace, harmony and compassion. By instilling values in the younger generation we can hope that they will grow into the men and women of tomorrow who will share the message with their own children. And so the message gets passed on and on…

 

Practice What You Preach

 

Insider Guide to Jamaica – ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’

 

If you are looking to visit Jamaica, I have tapped Catherine for her insider knowledge on ‘how to do Jamaica like a PRO’!

My Highlights of Living in Jamaica

“Jamaica will always be the place I call home. I realise how much of a 3rd world girl I am when I visit the US and Canada. I love not having too many choices at the supermarket, I love not being consumed by shopping. I have the same friends today that I met in Grade 5.  Some live oceans away but we are still as close as 30 years ago. I love our language and how colourful we are and how colourful our island is. I enjoy the friendly familiar faces around every corner and cheering up the miserable ones.”

 

Places Fixed on My Jamaican Speed Dial

  1. My life consists of coffee – Café Blue all the way!
  2. Football (for the kids) – Big up to Ballaz Academy who not only trains but teaches discipline and values to the children.
  3. Beaches – BoardWalk for a quick trip, Bamboo Blu of recent (I don’t get out half of much as I would like)
  4. Church – Swallowfield Chapel– been going there since I was around 11 years old
  5. Women’s Study groups – Beauty For Ashes – non-denominational care groups

 

My Favourite Jamaican Foods and Traditions

I do love food of all kinds! I especially love my Wednesday Girls night.

We love to go to: Uncorked and Cellar8 – great food and wine!

  

Contact ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’

Instagram: howfigrowyuhpickney

Disclaimer: All images used with kind permission of ‘How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’, copyright Catherine Alexander-McDaniel

Illustration Credit: Krystal Ball

 

 

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

What is your favourite book or message, from the’How Fi Grow Yuh Pickney’ Book Series?

Share your experience and join the Comments Below….

 

Want to Read more Jamaican Interviews? Head Over Here…

Want to learn more about my Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican! Campaign? Head over here…

 

 

 




Paint and Sip in Jamaica – Art Parties for all Levels

Painting and colouring for adults is having a bit of a moment of late. Hailed as the next ‘best thing’ for relaxation and freeing the mind from the weariness of life, even the most uninitiated are turning into wannabe art fiends.

You too may have felt a Picasso moment coming on whilst carefully shading in your colouring book with your new pastel coloured pencils. Which may of whet your appetite for something a little less ‘colour between the lines’ and a little more paint brush, easel and watercolours.

Before you start doubting yourself, I know that painting, or should I say, creating a masterpiece, isn’t going to be easy for beginners. But I have an almost guaranteed way of indulging your creative side and making your first foray into painting a successful and more importantly a relaxed and fun one.

Let me introduce you to Stephanie Lue Yen, a published artist and entrepreneur, who has set up her own company ARTify! catering to budding artists in Jamaica.

Exclusive Interview with Stephanie Lue Yen

I caught up with Stephanie to the get the lowdown on ARTify, her fantastic Art Camps, Paint and Sip parties and all her other exciting business offerings. Whilst tapping her for all the things she loves to do in Jamaica and a quick flick through her ‘little black book’ for good measure.

If you are planning a trip to Jamaica, or already live here and fancy dabbling in some art, Stephanie will be sure to engage and entertain groups of children and adults alike with her warm and personable attitude and professional work….

 INTRODUCING artify

All About SLY – a brief introduction

Stephanie Lue Yen was born in St. Andrew to a large and diverse family and was raised mainly by her mother after her father sadly passed away when she was young. Proud of the dynamics of her mixed ethnicity Stephanie absorbed Chinese, Jamaican and European cultures, forging a love of Art, languages and travelling.

Stephanie muses that her artistic streak was inherited from her mother, who was always sewing. Her natural talent was strong and she remembers being the most creative out of her friends and siblings. In her early years at High School, buoyed by her inspirational first art teacher Miss Lynch, the foundation was set for Stephanie’s love of Art in all its many facets.

 

 

Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts

After graduating from High School, Stephanie prepared her portfolio studying Graphic Design and Painting at the prestigious Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, on a part-time basis. But despite being accepted into their Bachelor of Fine Arts program, she put her true love to one side and shrewdly opted to study business, completing a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

Most of Stephanie’s adult life was spent pursuing a regular 9 to 5 office job, working for Technology and Tourism Companies, whilst pushing her Art to the lexicons of a hobby, or plan B. But there was always a nagging feeling that this wasn’t her true calling and Stephanie took a philosophical approach to her future “with age comes wisdom and the appreciation of how important it is to nurture your talents and feed your soul with the things you are passionate about” and so Stephanie turned to her Art again.

“To me, my creativity is my strongest characteristic. At the core I am an artist and my goal is to build a career around my passion.”     

                                                                             

‘SLY’ The Professional Artist

With little formal instruction from her early days, Stephanie honed her skills with enthusiasm, raw talent and practice. The dedication paid off.

With seven years of professional success under her belt showing and selling her work privately and through galleries such as ‘Island Art and Framing’ in Orchard Village Plaza, the artist known as ‘SLY’ is well and truly on the map. Ever the art chameleon, Stephanie Lue Yen (SLY) art is very different from what you will see at an ARTify party where the crowd participation calls for an easy to follow piece.

Not one to sit on her artistic laurels, Stephanie dreams of hosting a public exhibition after the recent successful release of her first complete collection “More Than Words”.

 

IMAGINATION CAMP Art Camp Jamaica
IMAGINATION CAMP

 

Launching ARTify!

Imagination Camp – Arts and Crafts Summer Camp for Kids

In summer 2016, Stephanie launched ARTify in Jamaica, with an Arts and Crafts Summer Camp for kids “Imagination Camp”. The camp run by Stephanie and her dear friend was a success, where they spent two weeks teaching twenty children aged between 5 and 10 years old, about the elements of art and foundation techniques. The basis behind the camp was to make art fun and accessible for children so that they too would have an appreciation of the Arts…

Our camps are small and intimate so each child gets special attention and it really is like a family for the 1-2 weeks. We pride ourselves on making quality art. In our first summer camp, kids learnt the elements of art so much that they could apply them on their own and even talk the talk. They painted on canvas and made mixed media crafts. I know it sounds serious but if you follow us on Instagram (@imaginationcamp_ja) you will see it was all fun.”

The first camp was a hit with the parents, but it was the enthusiasm of the children enjoying the art so much that filled Stephanie’s heart until she was spurned on to share her with others.

 

Paint and Sip! Artify Jamaica
Paint and Sip! Artify Jamaica

 

Paint and Sip

Bolstered by the success of the kids parties, the entrepreneur ventured into paint parties, or Paint and Sips. This was a natural progression for Stephanie as she had instructed some Paint and Sips as a guest artist in the past and had realised that people were opening up to the creative world. The special thing about an ARTify! Paint and Sip, is that you get the opportunity to get up close and personal with Stephanie herself, as she hosts all her own events.

Stephanie specialises in catering for private groups as she had noted there is already a certain chemistry when everyone knows each other and they “let it go” a bit more than a public group.  If you are interested in booking an ARTify party they can host an event at your own home or in one of their preferred venues in Kingston, such as Cannon Ball Cafe or The Haven.

 

“What separates us from the others offering paint parties is that you really have a lot of                                                          input into your event. You know who the artist is ( i.e. Me 🙂 ) and the host or group                                                              chooses what we paint, so it’s always something that fits the tastes of the guests. As an                                                          artist I know it isn’t fun to paint something that doesn’t inspire you. When it is at one of                                                      our venues, we assist with organising catering and decorations and so on, if requested.”

 

Stephanie has simplified the process of choosing a piece to paint, with a gallery of paintings on the ARTify website that clients can select from. There is a wide selection to choose from, but if you don’t see something to suit your taste or occasion, you can let them know what you have in mind and they will create a unique piece based for you.

What ARTify can do for You

ARTify’s main services include paint and craft parties for private groups, adults and kids. They are a great way to celebrate birthdays, bachelorette and showers, but it can be any occasion; such as, over the Christmas a couple asked them to host a Paint and Sip because they had a friend visiting. They are also fun team experiences for companies, associations and other groups. Or, just because! Art (and drinking) is always fun.

 

The Future of ARTify! in Stephanie’s Own Words

As is the way with artistic people, Stephanie has the urge to continually keep evolving and creating…

“I didn’t want to be limited. Art has no limits! I wanted to create a brand that represents the creative life, the go-to for creative experiences, creative products and services. To ARTify is to improve the environment and life through art, expand experience and enrich the world through artistic actions. We host arts and crafts camps and workshops, paint and sip and paint parties, plus we create custom pieces for events and we make Jamaican crafts. We are just getting started!

Then, there are our Jamaican crafts. The first one to launch is our UN-WINED Candle which is made using repurposed wine bottles. Repurposing or “upcycling” is very important to me. I’m always thinking of how something can be made into something else or better. I call it “future eyes”. I see potential where people see junk.  We currently offer 3 Jamaican fragrances –  ortanique, coffee and pimento, we have also added citronella to the lot because mosquitoes can be a problem on the island. They are made in Jamaica by Jamaicans. We have other Jamaican-made crafts on the way.

We are open to any creative request. We’ve been commissioned to make backdrops and handmade signs for events. Crafting is so much fun. If you don’t enjoy it, let us do it!”

 

UN-WINED Scented Candles Artify! Jamaica
UN-WINED Scented Candles

 

 ARTify! Insider Guide to Jamaica

If you want to do Jamaica like one of it’s most fabulous home-grown artists,  check this insiders guide from the gorgeous and talented Stephanie Lue Yen…

“Growing up in Kingston and St. Andrew, Jamaica, my fondest childhood memories include going to all the Craft Fairs at Christmas and seeing all the local crafts, especially pottery and jewelry. Another favourite is going to Hellshire Beach with my family for a good fried fish. I still do both things 🙂 ”

 

ARTify! on Why Jamaica is an Ideal Vacation Destination

“One great thing about Jamaica is the diverse landscape. Foreigners just think of the beach but we are blessed with stunning beaches, and mountains, rivers and waterfalls. The landscape offers such varied experiences. It’s hard for me to choose a favourite.

There are a lot of organised attractions for tourists and luxury all-inclusive hotels where you want for nothing. But there are also the real authentic Jamaican experiences, when you mingle with local people and enjoy the island the way we do. Like adventuring off the beaten path to beautiful swimming spots and trails that aren’t on google maps, eating Jamaican street food and maybe stopping impromptu at a street dance. Whether you’re looking to just relax in comfort or to get out there on an adventure, Jamaica has it.”

Places Fixed on ARTify’s Jamaican Speed Dial

  • The Haven on Hillcrest Avenue: a quaint outdoor bar with a friendly vibe
  • Cannon Ball Cafe in Barbican: when I’m not hosting a paint party there, I stop in for a cup of tea or their super yummy Power Salad.
  • Cellar 8 in Manor Park: great cocktails and food with a lovely ambience
  • Island Art and Framing: not just because my art is displayed there 🙂 It’s a great gallery of local paintings and locally made wooden furniture. Your eyes will be happy. It’s both a gallery and framing store so typically the persons in there are artists themselves or they appreciate art. I absorb all the positive energy!
  • Azans Supercenter in Regal Plaza: they sell everything there for the home and I get a lot of inspiration for decor projects

ARTify! Favourite Island Hide-aways for a Weekend in Jamaica

“In St. Ann I stay in the district called Bamboo at ‘Chippenham Park’ a lovely Georgian style house with neighboring egg farm. The house is over 200 years old and is really high up so it gets very cold (for a Jamaican). It’s a great place to snuggle by the fire-place or gaze at the stars and leave the city stress behind. The 3 bedroom house is available for vacation rentals.

In Portland, Kanopi House is a beautiful property with several villas built mostly from wood. Kind of a tree-house, jungle vibe and its right on the Blue Lagoon.

I can’t leave out Eits Cafe in the Blue Mountains! Let me just say “rustic relaxation”. Rustic wooden rooms, breathtaking views, a great restaurant, and the sound of the river always in the background. Look it up!”

Artify on the ‘Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican!’ campaign on the Sweet Jamaica website…

I would like to commend Jules for the “Support Jamaica! Buy Jamaican!” Campaign. I especially admire that as a foreigner she has recognized all that is positive about Jamaica and has made it her mission to help showcase that internationally. I’m a firm believer in buying local as much as we can, especially when it comes to supporting our local farming and food manufacturing industry. As a local business or artisan it is often difficult to compete with imported goods which are usually priced cheaper. But it is important not just to support our economy but to nurture the talent and morale of our people. Every time that we support a local business or artisan, that is what we are doing. We are saying, “I appreciate what you are doing, Don’t stop!” – Stephanie Lue Yen

Contact and Bookings for ARTify!

If you want to get in touch with Stephanie at Artify, the best place to start is their website. All their products and services are listed and you can contact them using the contact page.

Email at steph@artifyja.com.

We are also on:

Artify! Website

Facebook as Artify Ja

Instagram @artify_ja 

Instagram @imaginationcamp_ja

 

 

 

Get More From Sweet Jamaica – Join Us Here…

Want to get updates on the move then join us…

FaceBook Page

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Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bless up, Jules

Keep the Conversation Going….

Have you been to a Paint and Sip or art party? Tell us all about it!

Share your experience and join the Comments Below….

 

Want to Read more Jamaican Interviews? Head Over Here…

Want to learn more about my Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican! Campaign? Head over here…

 

 




Most Coveted Jamaican Made Travel Accessories

After falling in love with Janz Creations images on Instagram, I tracked down the brains behind the brand to get the inside scoop about Jamaica’s most talked about travel accessories. Where I was excited to learn that Janz Creations is a thoroughly modern, Jamaican family affair.

Join me as I catch up with the trailblazing trio to find out what they are up to this year, plus I have gleaned some of their ‘in the know’ insider tips for the best that Jamaica has to offer.

Flying the Flag for Jamaican Made Products

Janz Creations is one of the new breed of fearless Jamaican creative companies that has been launched to much acclaim. Filling a niche in the market with a product line that wouldn’t look out of place on the pages of a glossy magazine. Janz Creations are putting the stylish edge into ‘Jamaican Made’ with their line of Travel and Tea Accessories.

Following a hectic couple of months being featured at the most stylish events on the Kingston shopping scene on the run up to Christmas, Janz Designs have hit the ground running in 2017, with new fabric designs being launched, along with a limited edition romantic Valentines Day campaign.

Coveted by all the most stylish people in Jamaica, those in the know are stocking up on pieces from Janz Creations to carry back overseas, smug in the knowledge that they have brought back something from their vacation that everyone else wishes they thought of.

If you are visiting Jamaica and are looking for an authentic memento that you will still love and use when you reach back home, seek out  a stockist of Janz Creations. You heard it here first…

More Information: Support Jamaica Buy Jamaican!

In the Beginning – A Kingston Born Entrepreneur

No stranger to business, Janet Ferguson had designed and created products long before Janz Creations was formally launched. As Janet’s artistic background and passion for practical designs meant that every time she created something for herself, her friends and family would insist that she made another to sell to them. This support and encouragement spurned Janet on to team up with her daughters, Kerri-Ann and Keisha to launch their family owned business in September 2015…

“I was motivated to make products that are useful and necessary, but often forgotten or unavailable. High end shoes come in bags, but the majority of people cannot afford such shoes, but the bags are so useful for travel and everyday use. Who wants to have their underwear on display when their bags are being checked at customs? The lingerie bags provide privacy for these personal items.”

Priding themselves on creating high quality tea and travel collection products, their company philosophy is to provide ‘products that are useful and which offer good value for the price charged’. This vision is effortlessly executed with the beautifully shot marketing images shot by, Toni-Ann Photography.

 

Shoe and Lingerie Bag Janz Creations
Shoe and Lingerie Bag Janz Creations

 

Hand-Made Products Hitting the Fabric Trends

Scouring through the images on Janz Creations Instagram feed, there is no denying that Janz Creations is on the pulse of the latest colour and fabric trends. Taking inspiration from nature, culture and magazines, the Team selects fabrics and prints based on current trends in the fashion industry.

These fabrics are then hand-cut and meticulously sewn by Janz Creations Founder, Janet Ferguson, assisted by a local seamstress in her atelier. The choice of fabrics cover the full spectrum, so you can find modern heritage floral patterns, colour blocking, polka dots, denim, prints and stripes. There is literally something for everyone, including men and children.

The pieces are priced in the range of $600 – $4,500 JMD, which is super affordable if you want to start collecting their range.

I will be stocking up on the products with the the iKat, batik, geometric and blue anchor fabrics, which I absolutely LOVE!

Why it is a Good Idea to Invest in Travel Accessories

Whether you are zipping around town or visiting an overseas destination, travelling can be stressful. One of the best ways to make travelling less stressful is to be organised. It’s the little things that help, like having a place for everything and putting everything back in its place. By investing in some travel accessories you can make sure that you stay on top of your game, whilst dazzling everyone you meet with your practical and stylish hero products.

Purposefully designed travel accessories can also help protect the lining of your favorite bag, whilst fun prints make things easier to find when scrabbling in the depths of your handbag for something small. And who doesn’t want a pretty little teabag wallet to toss into their handbag for Green Tea on the go?

 

Janz Creations Product Line

Janz Creations currently carry two products lines, Travel and Tea Collections.

Travel Collection:

  • Card Holders
  • Cell Phone Charging Pockets
  • Diaper Bags
  • eReader Cases
  • Laundry Bags
  • Lingerie Bags
  • Luggage Handle Covers
  • Passport Holders
  • Shoe Bags
  • Swimsuit (wet) Bags
  • Children’s wet bags and lunch bags

Tea Collection:

  • Tea Cozies
  • Tea Wallets

 

Tea Cozy Janz Creations
Tea Cozy Janz Creations

What’s next from Janz Designs…

You heard it here first!

“In the next 3 -5 years we would have added more products to our collection and a few more vendors, some of whom would be in other Caribbean islands. We continue to listen to our customers as we have gotten very good product ideas from them. We will also be exploring the bridal market through partners, where we will offer our products as customizable bridal party gifts”.

 

Card Holders Janz Creations
Card Holders Janz Creations

 

Janz Creations Insider Guide to Jamaica

If you are looking to visit Jamaica like a local, there is more than one way of doing it. So in the interest of public service I have quizzed the stylish trio for their insider knowledge on ‘how to do Jamaica like a Kingstonian PRO’!

 

Janet Ferguson raised her daughters in her childhood stomping ground of St. Andrew, where they all have fond memories of the area…

“We all grew up in St. Andrew. Our favourite memories were playing with friends in the stream at the front of our house and mini adventures into the hills. Road trips to the rural areas, picnics at Hollywell and attending Easter morning performances by NDTC (National Dance Theatre Company) are some of our family faves”.

 

Janz Creations on Why Jamaica is an Ideal Vacation Destination

“Jamaica would appeal to a visitor that is looking for a change in pace, with friendly and welcoming people, fantastic food, beaches, rich history and vibrant art scape. Many people would be enlightened by a visit to the Synagogue which is one of the oldest in this hemisphere”.

 

What Janz Creations love about Living in Jamaica

“We love the lifestyle, weather and overall energy of the country, having all lived at some time in the United States and the Jamaican example of ‘Out or Many, One People’”

 

Places Fixed on Janz Creations Jamaican Speed Dial

Retail Shops: Kerry Man Woman Home, Kutriments, Tea Pot, Taylor’d 4 Babies, Courtney Washington

Restaurants: Triple Tz on Annette Crescent has the best Sunday Morning breakfast.

Hang Outs: There are so many, but San San beach in Portland is a must. Can’t forget Devon House Ice Cream…ooh that rum and raisin.

 

Janz Creations Favourite Island Hide-aways for a Weekend in Jamaica

“We love to stay in Ocho Rios (Old Forte Bay). Ochi is now very close with the new high way and we loved the staff at Old Forte Bay. It is very relaxing and great spot for a small group or family get away.

We also enjoy Ibero Star in Montego Bay. This has been one of the best hotels we have stayed at, from the staff to the food and accommodations”.

 

Janz Creations Highlights about Living in Jamaica

Living in Jamaica is truly a wonderful experience. Nothing beats living in a warm climate on an island year round. When we have free time we enjoy trips to Hellshire Beach to eat fish and festival, the taste cannot be replicated anywhere else we have visited so it is a must go for all visitors. Also the simple things: the ability to laugh at ourselves, relax and the congeniality of our people. With all its problems there is no place like Jamaica”.

 

Janz Creations Top 5 Spots to Visit in Jamaica

1. Devon House – ice cream
2. Hellshire Beach
3. Triple Tz
4. San San Beach
5. Tastee Patties

 

Janz Creations Favourite Authenic Jamaican Foods and Pastimes

Jamaican Food: “Ackee & Saltfish, Patties, Fried dumplings, Escoviche Fish and Festival”

Jamaican Pastimes: “Carnival, Track Meets, NDTC Performances, Live Concerts, especially Sumfest & Rebel Salute”

 

Shop Janz Creations

Janz Creations website offers delivery within Kingston & St. Andrew. Wholesale items can be personalised.

 

Retail Locations Carrying Janz Designs

Kerry Man Woman Home
18 South Avenue
Kingston, Jamaica

 

Kutriments
Shop #18
Mall Plaza
Kingston, Jamaica

 

Taylor’d 4 Babies
27 Lady Musgrave Rd
Unit 3
Kingston, Jamaica

 

The Teapot
106 Hope Rd.
Sovereign Centre
Shop 27a
Kingston, Jamaica

 

Island Florals
Devon House
Shop #25
26 Hope Road
Kingston 10, Jamaica

 

Contact Janz Creations

Janz Creations Website: www.janzcreations.com
Email: janzcreation@gmail.com
Instagram: Janz_Creation
FaceBook:  Janz Creations

Disclaimer: All images used with kind permission of Janz Creations, copyright Janz Creations.

Photography Credit: Toni-Ann Photography.

 

 

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Bless up, Jules

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Share your experience and join the Comments Below….

 

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Introducing NEW Rising Star Petraa and her single ‘Love is Eternal’

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing my friend and up and coming Reggae, R’n’B and Dancehall artist, Petraa. With links to the UK, Canada and the Caribbean, she is set to be an international superstar making her mark in the industry within the coming year. Multi-faceted and vocally talented, Petraa’s musical style ranges from sweet and sensual to raw, real talk, story telling.  A singer, song writer and outgoing performer, Petraa has grown as an artist with a passion for singing since a tender age. Petraa re-started her musical journey anew in 2015 in Jamaica, the land of the great and the glorious in the music scene. Here we share her story and get an insight into what she is all about and what you can expect from her in 2016 and beyond.

 

Petraa’s Interview with ‘Sweet Jamaica Jules’

Hi and welcome to ‘Sweet Jamaica’ Petraa, it’s great to get a chance to sit down and have a chat so that we can introduce you and your newly released single to our readers. So without further ado, let’s get started!

Please introduce yourself…

Hi Readers and Fans! My name is Petraa. I am an Up and coming Reggae, R’n’B and Dancehall artist currently living in Jamaica but originating from Leeds, in the U.K. I moved to Canada after growing up in England but due to my love and passion for music I recently moved to Jamaica to pursue my music career.

 

What brought you to Jamaica specifically?

Music! My love, passion and drive for it. I like to compare myself to a hungry Rottweiler waiting to be let off my leash lol. I love music, especially Reggae and Dancehall, and because I am an artist practising the craft, it only seemed fit that I do this in the land of where it originated, Jamaica.  

 

What do you most like about living in Jamaica?

Waking up to sunshine, fresh air, green trees and happy people. I love to just be immersed in Jamaican culture, especially when it comes to the music. I love how serious people take the craft of music in Jamaica. To be an artist in Jamaica, is to be very well respected. You can’t be an artist here and not take it seriously. I’ve also found that when it comes to the music scene here, as long as you have the talent, passion and drive, you will meet like -minded individuals to share and grow your music with.

 

What have you been up to in Jamaica in 2015?

This year has been a great year for me, jumping into the Jamaican music scene. Prior to this year, I had  taken some time out of the music industry to pursue other non musical ventures. Being back on the scene this year and in Jamaica, I have had the opportunity to meet and perform with a lot of great artists such as Lady Saw, D’ Angel,  Producers, Radio hosts and  DJs and had the chance to perform in a few shows.

While here I have also been going to the studio. I recently recorded my single ‘Love is Eternal’ with ‘Di Lab Records’, a studio based in Exchange, St. Ann. While there, I also recorded a number of dub plates and  jingles. Due to its success, ‘Love is Eternal’ has been featured on a variety of mix-tapes throughout Jamaica. Currently, ‘Love is Eternal’ is playing on radio stations in Jamaica, including Irie FM. The song has also been getting air play in the UK and I recently  did an interview with VRL Radio to promote the single.

How much creative control do you have over your music?

As an unsigned artist, I have full control over my music and sound, especially when it comes to style, lyrics, rhythms and direction. I think it’s important for an artist to be able to exercise this right because it’s that freedom that allows a person’s artistry to show and can be related to by their fans. When it comes to my music, I work with producers to custom make sounds that represent and showcases  the many sides of Petraa. Also because I write my own songs, it allows me to be able to discuss topics and issues close to me and my fans.

What sort of image does your music portray?

My music portrays a sweet, sexy, rude gyal style.  Because I grew up experiencing both sides of the track. I’ve experienced struggle and success and my style, sound, and swag is a representation of that. When it comes to my image, how I am is a true representation of who I am.

As an Artist, is there anything special you would like to accomplish?

Yea, there is a lot I would love to accomplish, just wanna make sure there is enough time lol… Honestly, I would love to accomplish and create a great body of musical works, with the type of sound that can be played and enjoyed by people in years to come. Also I want to use my artistry to do some philanthropic pursuits, starting with giving back and making donations to schools and educational institutions in Jamaica.  

 

What can people expect to see at your live performances?

Well,  fans can expect to see an energetic, lively stage show. I’m an artist that likes to go hard with my performances. I want my fans to not only hear me, but feel me. Whether I’m accompanied by a live band or  backing track,  you’re gonna see an artist that isn’t afraid to bring it and be immersed in the music. When I go on stage I try to put myself in the shoes of my audience and bring them the kind of performance I would go and pay money to see myself.

 

Tell us about your single?

‘Love is Eternal’ is a R’n’B and Reggae song influenced by the genre of Lovers rock. It talks about the innocence of meeting someone and enjoying that real connection.

What was your inspiration for the track?

Lol, Mmmm, it’s based on a past relationship. It was written at a time when I was very much in love. Even though the relationship didn’t last, at least I have a song capturing what it was.

Why did you choose to record this track in Jamaica?

I felt Jamaica was the best place to record because nowhere in the world knows reggae music and its sound like Jamaica. Because my music is heavily influenced by Reggae and Dancehall, it only seemed fitting that I recorded my music in the land of where it originated. Not to mention, the Sound quality is amazing in Jamaica. When it comes to making sound recordings, the engineers are great at creating that live sound using various music programmes.

Where did you record the track and who are you currently working with?

I recorded the track  with Christopher Coombs at ‘Di Lab Records’ in Exchange, St. Ann, Jamaica. I am currently working with Raymond Dizzle from ‘Dizzle Entertainment’ to set the wheels in motion to promote ‘Love is Eternal’ and other up and coming ‘Petraa’ releases.

 

Petraa Love is Eternal
Petraa Love is Eternal

 

What do you have planned for 2016?

I would like to travel  with my music, and hopefully get a chance to do performances and shows in other countries. My aim is to release my singles and do a few collaborations with more established artists in Jamaica, allowing me to showcase my versatility. By the end of the year, I would like to be able to look back and see my accomplishments for the year.  I also would like to increase my fan support online and on road, to be able to build a relationship with them so they can go on this musical journey with me.

 

When and where can we buy the Song?

Well, the song is currently available for listening on YouTube. Type in ‘Petraa  ‘Love is Eternal’ (new reggae 2016)’ and it will pop up.  The single will be available for download on iTunes and other musical distribution sites in the next few weeks.

 

Petraa in the beginning
Petraa in the beginning

 

What artists do you enjoy listening to?

That’s like one of the hardest questions to ask me, I listen to such a variety of artists. Let me see… I enjoy listening to Marcia Griffiths, Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, Chronixx, Aidonia, Popcaan, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Nikki Minaj, Drake, Rihanna, Future. I also love eras of music like the jazz, rhythm and blues era of the 1930s in America like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald,  Motown, Reggae from the 50s to 70s and  R’n’B  from the 90s.

 

If you could perform with 10 artists dead or alive who would it be?

  1. Marcia Griffiths
  2. Bob Marley
  3. Jah Cure
  4. Mavado
  5. Aidonia
  6. Popcaan
  7. Chronixx
  8. Erykah Badu
  9. Nikki Minaj
  10. Drake

 

Name your Top 10 favourite tracks of all time?

  1. Marcia Griffiths – Dreamland
  2. Stevie Wonder – Ribbon in the sky
  3.  Lauryn Hill – Zion
  4. Bob Marley – Forever loving Jah
  5. Erykah Badu – Tyrone
  6. Floetry – Say Yes
  7. Mary J Blige – Share my World
  8. Maxwell – This Woman’s Work
  9. Luther Vandross – If Only for One Night
  10. Minnie Riperton – Loving You

 

How can fans keep up to date with what you are doing next?

Well, my fans are welcome to stay in touch through social media to keep up to date with everything I am doing, be it shows, single releases or Petraa News in general. They can do this by following me on:

Official Website: www.petraamusic.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/petraamusic

Twitter: www.twitter.com/petraamusic

Instagram: www.instagram.com/petraamusic

 

 

Jamaican ‘Patwa Apparel’ Speaks Out!

Heneka is a bona-fide Jamaican success story, starting her business empire in 2007 with a clothing line where she cleverly fused her love for Jamaican Patois with fashion.  Aware of the constraints and hurdles faced in tough economic times, Heneka strived forward where many would have drawn back and has since diversified to credit literature, broadcasting and manufacturing to her portfolio. I admire Heneka’s strong business and personal ethics, as although Heneka is modest, her integrity and awareness of self and others is clear in the brilliant and inspirational way she explains her company philosophy.

Jamaica is famed for many things and it is tropical, colourful, vibrant and full of vibes just like it’s people and the dialect they speak. Although the official language of Jamaica is English, the local dialect spoken in Jamaica is known as patois or patwa, a multi-lingual mixing pot of several languages that draws references from all the different inhabitants of Jamaica since the Tainos. It may take a little getting used to for the uninitiated, but when you get into the flow you will find it is powerful, direct, literal, fun and very infectious!

I am pleased to have had the chance to learn about Heneka’s journey and share it with you in this interview….

Interview

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

I’m Heneka Watkis-Porter, owner and operator of Patwa Apparel. My role has over the years been one of ‘head cook and bottle washer’ but I’m slowly moving away from that to concentrate more on strategy, operations and sales/marketing.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

 We began on 7th August, 2007. I’ve always wanted to have my own business; I thought about the area of choice for sometime and then settled on a clothing line. But I have evolved more into a full-fledged entrepreneur, spreading my wings to more than just clothing. Now I have a sauce line aptly called 10 Fyah Side, 2 radio programmes – The Entrepreneurial You and Living on Purpose; a book entitled” 15 Hints To Entrepreneurial Success: Lessons From A Caribbean Woman

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

Oh where do I start… My day though is never typical. It usually start with devotions. Some days there are meetings, volunteer projects, training, planning, travelling, planning, writing proposals, working at the shop. Tuesday is the only day that has some sort of order which includes pre-recording one of my radio programmes, tea and muffin by Bookophillia (cell-phone goes in the off position), Toastmasters club, prayer meeting.

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

4. What is your company philosophy?

Patwa Apparel operates on 14 points of culture i.e. commitment, community, volunteerism, consistency, efficiency, empowerment, creativity, integrity, leadership, accountability, passion, quality, respect and abundance.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

We are based at shop # 12 Devon House, 26 Hope Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica. Our products are manufactured in Jamaica.

6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

Yes

7. Are you Jamaican?

Born and bred…

8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

Likes:

the strength of brand Jamaica and our culture; our passion; our creativity

Dislikes:

crime; political tribalism; bureaucracy

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

 9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Well the company is now going through an intense period of planning for re-branding, restructuring and development and growth. Part of the change will see us attracting a wider range of international customers. There will be changes to our website and social media interaction; design, etc.

10. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

I am working on so many projects right now and I love them all. I think if I have to give an answer, I’d say restructuring the company, building a team and generally implementing changes to grow the company.

11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

My inspiration comes primarily from God. I also read books, watch videos and attend seminars to keep myself motivated. I also draw inspiration from life in general and the people within especially I travel.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

We are located at shop # 12 Devon House, 26 Hope Road; our website outlines our locations (www.patwaapparel.com); our sauces are available at supermarkets in Kingston as well as the Patwa outlet in Devon House. My book is available online on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (15 Hints To Entrepreneurial Success).

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

Free time? J I’m always working, but I enjoy every moment of it. I try to find time for the beach, and go to the country every once in a while…I read sometimes too.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

As the Prime Minister for the day I’d fire most of the Members of Parliament.

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

As someone who is in the business of monetizing from Patois, I’m indebted to the late Louise Bennett-Coverley for her work on the Jamaican language. She has enabled a wider acceptance of the way we speak of Jamaicans. Her contribution to Jamaica is simply priceless.

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?

It is important to belief in yourself and your God-given abilities. Find your purpose, know your why, write your vision down and work the plan. But most importantly, trust in God.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

 If I could change jobs (and I can), I wouldn’t change anything. I absolutely love what I do and as such don’t view it as work.

Patwa Apparel
Patwa Apparel

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

I admire the work of the Lascelles Chin-led LASCO. Chin had a very humble beginning yet his impact globally is undeniable. He was determined to make it.

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s ongoing success?

My company’s success has been attributed to my faith, my core values and the 15 Hints I speak about in my book. The main one is ‘finding my purpose’. Everything I do is purpose driven.

20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Our uniqueness, simple yet creative design set us apart from our competitors. This is backed by our customer service as is evidenced by comments in our guest book and on tripadvisor.com.

 Brand Jamaica is at the heart of everything we do.

21. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build Jamaica?

We can help to build Jamaica by being job creators instead of everyone seeking jobs. Our socialization has messed up our psyche; we are taught to go to school and get a good education so that in turn we can get a good job. This is where most of our problems are as there aren’t enough jobs to cater to the needs of the mass.

22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

I really want Jamaica to be the place of choice to live, do business and raise families. I dream of a Jamaica where neighbours look out for each other and the Government of the day is selfless.

Heneka Watkis-Porter
Heneka Watkis-Porter

Contact Details for Patwa Apparel

Patwa Apparel

Shop # 12 Devon House

26 Hope Road

Kingston 10

876-849-2571; 876-906-7461

Facebook – Patwa Apparel; 10 Fyah Side; The Entrepreneurial You

Twitter: @patwaapparel @10fyahside @TheEntrepYou

email: Heneka@patwaapparel.com

Website: www.patwaapparel.com

 

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Which is your favourite piece in the Patwa Apparel collection? What do you love to eat your 10 Fyah Side sauces with? Get in touch below we look forward to hearing from you.

 

Green Age World taking over the Caribbean

There is a lot of ‘hype’ around at the moment about Going Green or Being Green, but what does it all mean?  Being considered ‘Green’ is a lifestyle choice, where you have to get involved to make a difference by making changes to the way you live your life. It is all very well to interject this latest buzz word into conversations to make us seem to be ‘in the know’, but to make a quantifiable difference to the environment it takes more effort than just shedding some hot air on the topic. Tackling environmental issues goes wider than just looking at what is happening in Jamaica alone, it is a Caribbean issue, it is a global issue and it is an issue that we should all take a keen interest in. Which is why I have sought out a shining star in the making to give us all a greater insight into what Being Green really means and how it affects us…

Jamaica is a part of the wider Caribbean, a collection of islands brimming with beauty and brains. Not content with becoming a forward thinker within her own demographics, Jamilia Parris is a Barbadian on a mission to educate, inform and transform our lives. With a plan to make a difference that was hatched on the floor in her mother’s house over half a decade ago, Jamilia has been steadfast in her dream to get the message across. Green Age World is a fresh, young and green brand that is actually part of a portfolio of companies that Jamilia is heading to get people and organisations involved in Green issues. Jamilia took some time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions and I hope that her words will inspire you to jump to the ‘Green side’ with conviction!

 

Interview questions

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Jamilia Parris. I am Founder and CEO of Green Age World and everything Green Age Caribbean (GAC).  Currently, I wear all the hats. I do get some help and advice from experienced and capable friends and colleagues though.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

I feel more like this career path chose me, I just accepted it.

 

3. What can we expect from your portfolio of companies?

People can expect to see a young and cool brand that’s all about living green. Don’t expect another NGO site or some boring execution. Nope. We’re going to pop up on your streets, or in your markets, you can interact with us on your smartphones and tablets and come for a chill with us on our website. We’re going to be everywhere you are and we’re going to give you things to check out, things to do, make you feel good and make you smarter, and most importantly, inspire and motivate you to take it green. The people are it, and we believe that, I believe that and our Caribbean people know that. Green is a conscious lifestyle not a task to save the World.

Green Age World I
Green Age World I

4. Where is your Head Office based and how do you serve Jamaica and the wider Caribbean?

There is no head office and I don’t intend for there to be one really in the foreseeable future. The office is wherever I and my future employees are. Green Age World serves not only Jamaicans but all our Caribbean people. The company is a social enterprise, meaning that while we operate for profit, we do so for the people. The brand belongs to Caribbean people and it is EXTREMELY important for them to know and enjoy that. 🙂 Check out the About section on our Facebook page to see what I’m talking about. We are a “Virtual Enterprise”, this keeps costs down and saves on elements that will make us as green as we want to be.

 

5. How do you involve Jamaica(n’s) in your projects?

Remember I said the brand is for the people, it’s an entity our Caribbean people are a part of, truly, for they are and are the ones who will make Green Age Caribbean a reality. The company/brand is not just your normal entity who wants to accumulate patronage; Green Age Caribbean needs a lot more than that to become a reality. I have great things in store for our people in the future, and we’re all going to love it when they happen.

 

GAC: It needs small steps by its people, acceptance, determination, and a burning love for ALL our little worlds that make up this region we live in and so love. How we involve Jamaicans? The company wants its GAC citizens (Caribbean people) to actively play a role in deciding where and to whom the company distributes its social funds and support. As a social enterprise, social responsibility is actually a part of our cost structure, why the company is in business. Jamaicans say “out of many, one people”, well I 100% agree, we are all one people in the Caribbean so we will make this a Green Caribbean and show the rest of the World how forward thinking we can be.

 

Green Age World III
Green Age World III

 

6.  Where are you from, are you Jamaican?

I am from the Caribbean, that’s how I feel. I was born and raised in Barbados, but I am the dictionary definition of Caribbean.

 

7. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Well our Caribbean and global launch is the biggest plan. There are basic things still to be done and after that will be our awesome website. In between all that there is much to be done to build awareness among Caribbean people.  There’s going to be a cool Green Age Caribbean (GAC) interactive e-magazine that I expect shall be well-received. A youth program is critical to the success of the company mission and we shall be working with NGO’s as much as possible to realize and develop that. Our future holds a big touring company event and even an innovative housing solution, YES, really.

8. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

Besides Green Age World? 🙂

9. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model? 

I observe a lot and I also dream a lot. The latter’s the reason I’m working on this whole thing. I also have an unquenchable thirst for “the better”. Those 3 things combined inspire me and continue to do so. I have a vision for how thriving the people of the Caribbean can be and I just want to help to make that happen. Green Age World was conceptualized 6 years ago around 8pm on my mother’s living room floor and from then I knew it just HAD to be. How could it not? In no way did I have the skill-set then that I do now though, and I’m glad for the people I have supporting me and that I have the knowledge that I do to even attempt to execute my dream that is one for the people and our nations, not just myself.  I can’t say that I have a role model, I never really thought about it honestly. I have a standard for myself and certain expectations I live by and I guess these were informed by watching and interacting with other people as I grew up.

Besides family, lots of people have “touched” me and influenced and contributed to the person I am today. Those people on the streets that were strangers to me (and there have been many throughout my life) and whom said stuff like, “I’m going to see you in the papers someday doing something great” or “You are going to do something big with your life”, I never forget them. That something big and that greatness is my current project, this is my belief. Today I remember and I think they are incredible because they didn’t know me and they just clearly saw things in me I didn’t embrace nor know I had in me then. So among other things are they, those strangers and my people who help drive me every day to continue working on my initiative and seeing it through and I don’t even know their names.

10. Where can we get information about your company projects, in Jamaica and overseas?

We’re on Facebook so find us and talk to us there also people can follow us on Twitter to show their support. When we get it up and running there shall be interactive group boards on Pinterest for the brand so if you’re not there yet, get an account and follow us for now because we’ll be following back and pinning together soon. There will be newsletters; I’ll be actively trying and forging deals with Caribbean brands, all so that the company can help provide people with special offers on their favourite products and services to make green things more accessible and affordable to the masses. That’s important. I’m pushing an ideal but people in any situation need to be able to take it and run with it. That’s the key. I hope those green brands out there are listening.

Subscribers also get inside information on the company’s developments and there are exciting things to come. So, people really need to subscribe with us to access these benefits in the future. Right now there’s an email tab on our Facebook page which people can use to subscribe quickly with us. There’s an email requirement but I also have an option for people to give us their mobile information (to support future SMS/MMS communications) to stay in touch with each other-company and people.

11. How do you love to spend your free time? 

I’ll answer that according to my life now. I love reading. I read a perfectly fictional fantasy adventure book that takes me out of this world and into another for just a little bit. Sometimes I may just watch a movie. That’s the easiest escape I have nowadays. If I could carry the beach everywhere, well now, that would be it. I spend my entire time, whether free or not, GREEN.

Blue Mountains - Green Age World
Blue Mountains – Green Age World

12. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Bob Marley. Basically, he put Jamaica on the global map, proving that a small island, one small good thing, can have a decade’s long, a lasting impact on the ENTIRE world.



14. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young people to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be? 

Be resilient. Be determined. Be Creative. Also, don’t ever let ANYONE make you believe that you can’t do something or won’t get something regardless of who they are to you, parents and family included. Seriously. If I listened and followed all the negative things that were said to me or the things I heard, I would not have made some of my dreams and goals come true so far and I certainly would not have become a Founder of a social enterprise right now trying to do what it’s doing. This advice refers to positive things, of course. 🙂 Take the warnings. Appreciate the fact that this path (entrepreneurship) means sacrifice and risk and go for it. Somebody somewhere has your back. I sure do. Jamaicans have impacted the World in many ways including education, sports and certainly music and culture, there is absolutely nothing that could stop you if you’re truly determined to a higher level of life.

15. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

I wouldn’t change jobs, or career paths I should say. I’m better off being an entrepreneur. That said, I never dream of giving up on Green Age World and all its activities. It’s hard and overwhelming but the vision is big so I’m OK with that. However, if I didn’t have this drive and passion, I probably would have become a lawyer, an environmental lawyer.

16. What do you believe will contribute most to your company’s ongoing success? 

My company’s success will depend on a combination of things. One of the most critical things is that the brand needs to be embraced by Caribbean people in a true way. In this case the word ‘people’ refers to our free users and our prospective sponsors, advertisers, and donors.

17. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

The brand is one that the Caribbean people can literally belong to and that’s a great, powerful thing. It’s meaningful. It’s a sense of ownership in changing the World into a better place; we can be leaders in this race. Perhaps many about to read this may say I’m looking through rose-coloured glasses here; I don’t acknowledge my competitors or potential ones as truly that. Green Age World is an era, an attitude, a behavior, a lifestyle. Green Age Caribbean or a green Caribbean is an ideal and region we all now need to create one home or one step at a time. I’m trying to execute a great, necessary thing here, building something that’s owned by not me as I see it, but by the Caribbean people. I therefore consider my competitors as partners and potential partners anyway, and I hope they see me as such. We cannot be competitively green; we have to be collectively green.

 

18. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build the Caribbean?


You kind of just said it. Caribbean people need to unite, truly unite. People within our countries need also to unite and embrace each other. We all have our differences but we still need to live together. Traveling as much as I have has shown me that our waters are our blessing; it gives us the diversity and nuances of culture and norms from island to island. That’s what’s so fun and priceless about the region. Our waters though, to me, are also our limitation in some ways. Ever thought of what the Caribbean would be like if it were a single land mass like our continental neighbours, especially our northern neighbours? See the advantage yet? There would be more stable or, at least, stronger economies perhaps? There would probably or most certainly be a more mobile people in every sense of the word, greater self-reliance, one economy or fewer ones anyways, instead of several all trying to make it on their own at various stages of economic development or prosperity…? Those are but few of the innumerable positive possibilities if it were so. But it’s not. We need to come together. We need to ensure our people the ability to be able to do so. Our people need to be able to “hop around” with ease, there is much to be gained by movement but I shall not get into that now. To say the least and reiterate, we all need to unite, genuinely, and that starts mentally.

 

19. What are your aspirations for the future of the wider Caribbean?

A Green Caribbean of course. Basically, that’s a healthy, thriving people within green economies of resilient nations of the Caribbean. We have a paradise that people around the world dream of and spend thousands just to see and experience. We need to protect that and inspire them to protect their own nations when they go back home. We need to make our cultures, environment and creativity work for us in a big way. Caribbean people are creative, it’s in us, not something that’s learned, yet our creative industries lack so much infrastructure and support it is with great misfortune. And youth suffer because of this. We are forcing right brain thinkers to be academic when they should be creatively entrepreneurial. I believe our creative genius is a gold mine, just like our beautiful waters and lush nations and I wish the industry was stronger and taken more seriously. We can do we and survive from it. Beyond that, I’m a U.W.I. graduate and I’ve always believed in the idea that universities are pioneers of their societies. Pioneers. I want to see a Caribbean that is a direct effect of the University of the West Indies that it owns. Simple.

Green Age World II
Green Age World II

 

20. How can people get to contribute or get involved with Green Age World?

There is much work to be done if people wish to join me in executing this beauty of mine and theirs. I welcome it so they can contact me if interested. Again, the brand is and shall be very much a social one so people can choose to play a supportive role. We have an aim to be interactive, so, Caribbean people can stay in touch with us via the media and email mentioned earlier or, offer a donation or sponsorship if they wish to help with start-up and other operational costs. The brand is theirs and ours. I welcome any contribution and requests for involvement.

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Contact Details for Jamilia Parris at Green Age World

 

Jamilia Parris

CEO/Founder

Green Age World

Email:  contact@greenageworld.com

Our website is http://www.greenageworld.com

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/greenageworld

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/greenageworld

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Conserving Energy in Jamaica with Avenir Energy Solutions

Jason Patterson is one of a new generation of young Jamaican’s shining a beacon of hope over Jamaica. Through his entrepreneurial spirit he has formed a forward thinking company ‘Avenir Energy Solutions’ which is helping to build a greener Jamaica. The company works at grass-roots level,  re-educating Jamaican’s on sustainable development practises and green issues and offers solutions to combat them.  Jason’s portfolio also covers auditing a building’s energy consumption and providing sustainable ways to cut it. Not content with this, philanthropic tendencies have also seen him providing pro-bono assistance to a Kingston Boys’ School among other projects.

Here we are pleased to share Jason’s story with our readers and hope to inspire others to become green and to take up the challenge of being a young entrepreneur in Jamaica…

Interview questions

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Jason Patterson, and I am the Founder and Managing Director of Avenir Energy Solutions.

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

Avenir Energy Solutions was founded in 2013 as a result of my interest in Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development to me is about creating long-term solutions for a number of problems such as poverty reduction, environmental issues etc.

3.What is your company philosophy?

  • We put our Customers first and strive to secure their loyalty through top quality products and service.
  • We value our Employees and seek to help them achieve their full potential.
  • We embrace Professionalism and seek Excellence in everything we do.
  • We do our best to help our Communities be better places in which to live, work and grow.

4. Tell me about your typical working day?

My typical day usually starts at 6:00am. I start by reading online articles related to my fields of interest – some of which I schedule for sharing throughout the day across our social media channels. Since we are constantly focused on providing our clients with the latest and most effective solutions, I spend a couple of hours reading product reviews and contacting potential suppliers. After this, I review my to-do-list (keeps me sane!) and I try to start by “eating the frog” – which translates to executing the hardest task on my to-do-list first.

I try to schedule all conference calls and/or meetings with clients and suppliers for early to mid-afternoon. Since we are currently in pre-launch phase, contact with my mentor and marketing personnel is also crucial as we are working to devise strategies and marketing material. Following this, my focus switches to completing any outstanding project proposals and reports for our clients.

My late evenings are usually reserved for friends and family.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

We currently operate from my home office in Mandeville, Manchester. As a result of the technical requirements associated with our current business model, all of our products are imported from the United States and Asia.

6. Are you Jamaican?

Yes.

7. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Education plays a crucial role in increasing awareness of the benefits of Sustainable Development. Therefore, we are currently focused on developing material and campaigns to educate people of these benefits, as well as inform them of no-cost/low-cost strategies which can be easily implemented.

Avenir Infographic
Avenir Infographic

8. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

We recently partnered with Dennergy Solutions and the Kimroy Bailey Foundation to design and implement a pro bono project for the Alpha Boys’ School in Kingston, Jamaica. The Alpha Boys’ School is a catholic owned institution which is committed to the development and care of exposed and underprivileged young men. The school has and continues to benefit thousands of young boys in Jamaica.

Funding to conduct a Level II Energy Audit has already been secured through the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). We are currently developing a sustainable energy plan for Alpha that is to culminate with implemented technical, behavioural and social interventions that will no doubt see Alpha well on their way to energy sustainability.

This project has the potential to positively impact thousands of lives, and while it is still in the early stages of planning and development, the support from the public has been overwhelming. More updates to come…

9. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is in my opinion the embodiment of real entrepreneurship – vision, creativity, innovation, passion and hard work. While he has amassed great wealth and has founded over 400 companies, he remains committed to his belief that business can be used as a force for good.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Sir Richard… Awesome!

Richard Branson and I
Richard Branson and I

10. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Currently, our products/services are available in Jamaica to persons/organisations on a project basis. Our website is currently under construction and will soon be updated with a full overview of our offering.

11. 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?

Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.

12. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

I enjoy being an entrepreneur and running a company that helps others to achieve their sustainability goals.

13. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

 Having met Donna Duncan-Scott, the former Managing Director of Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB), and listening to her convey her passion for JMMB’s staff and clients, I would have to say that they are one of my favourite companies. JMMB possesses a strong corporate culture (unconditional love and mutual respect) and they embrace social responsibility through initiatives such as the Joan Duncan Foundation. Traits which I also want to convey through my businesses.

14. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s on-going success?

Constant communication with our clients and suppliers. This keeps us attune to our clients needs and the markets offerings. We have an open door policy where our current and potential clients are concerned – no query or concern is too small.

15. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

While a vast number of competitors exist within our industry, our small size allows us to be flexible and to focus on our clients and provide them with best in class products and service. We pride ourselves on educating our clients and providing the best solutions for their path to sustainable development, and we look forward to growing with them.

16. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build Jamaica?

 I believe that Jamaica possesses a strong potential for growth if our support for local industries and local production is increased. Campaigns such as your ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ and Neil Curtis’ ‘Farm Up Jamaica’ have the potential to make a significant contribution to our economy and reduce unemployment.

17. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

I wish to see Jamaica realise its true economic potential, and to see the lives of our citizens improve, especially the underprivileged. I hope to aid in this development through Avenir Energy Solutions, and all of my other business ventures that follow.

18. How can people start getting involved with Green Solutions?

‘Going green’ doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be an inconvenience. There are several low-cost strategies, such as switching to LED lighting, which can make a significant contribution to our journey towards sustainable development. We post no-cost/low-cost tips and tricks to reduce energy consumption on our social media channels on a daily basis.

19. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

I enjoy reading as well as spending time with friends and family. I have a small circle of close friends that enjoy a good lyme/flex and my family enjoys getting together to preparing large meals and hanging out.

Avenir Flyer
Avenir Flyer

Avenir Energy Solutions Contact Details

Direct: (876)-371-2065

Website: www.avenirenergysolutions.com

Email: info@avenirenergysolutions.com

Facebook: facebook.com/avenirenergysolutions

Twitter: twitter.com/avenirenergy

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Plant Sup’n with ‘Farm Up Jamaica’!

Farm Up Jamaica is the vision of Neil Curtis, an inspirational Jamaican living in New York. Like many Jamaicans living abroad, Neil keeps a keen eye on the goings-on back home. Frustrated by the continuing depreciation of the Jamaican Dollar,  high unemployment rates and the decline in home-grown produce, Neil hatched an ambitious plan to help heal Jamaica. The result is ‘Farm Up Jamaica’, a visionary project that is a  many faceted and utterly brilliant master plan to make a quantifiable difference in Jamaica.

What Makes Farm Up Jamaica Special?

Farm Up Jamaica gets its funding from donations, gifts in-kind and through volunteering work, much of which is through the Jamaican diaspora. The Non-Profit Organisation works with the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture to find gaps in the market contributing to the excessive food importations into Jamaica. It uses this information to channel the donations to offer help, employment, education and empowerment to farmers who had all but given up. The revolutionary concept is breathing new life into Jamaican farming with Organic and Sustainable Farming practices. These Organic crops are then available to buy locally in Jamaica and will also enable greater exportation possibilities, helping to stabilise the gap between imports and exports. Plus, the implementation of Organic and Sustainable farming practices is better for us when we consume the pesticide free food and it’s also really good for the Environment too.  An all-round Win, Win situation!

Sweet Jamaica Interview with Farm Up Jamaica

I am pleased to announce that the CEO of Farm Up Jamaica, Neil Curtis, took some time out of his busy schedule to take part in Sweet Jamaica Jules’ ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA, BUY JAMAICAN!’ interview series. Neil shares his story and views about his organisation with us in this fascinating read!

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

Hello, my name is Neil Curtis and I am the founder and CEO of Farm Up Jamaica Limited.

 

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

Our organisation was founded in July 2013. The reason we chose this path was to create a trustworthy way for diaspora to give back that would have a direct and measurable effect on Jamaica.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

 A work day in New York consists of:

  • Communicating by phone and email with farmers who want to participate in the program.
  • Diaspora meetings in person, by phone, email and Skype etc
  • Interaction with other organizations who want to partner or help the cause
  • Working with our fundraising co-ordinator to identify or improve ways to raise funds
  • Creating Memorandum of Understanding for organisations that we are partnering with
  • Researching new seeds and best practises for Organic Farming
  • Live television and radio interviews into U.S., U.K. and Canada
  • Consistent communication with our staff and board members

A work day in Jamaica consists of:

  • Visits to our current farmers to make sure they are functioning optimally
  • Meetings with prospective farmers and their families
  • Distribution of Organic seeds and fertilisers to our member farmers
  • Interacting with companies who want to partner or sponsor the cause
  • Meetings with government agencies for agricultural technical advice or administration
  • Negotiating with our vendors to ensure we are receiving the best possible pricing, discounts and incentives
  • Creating work forces in areas of interest and ensuring that it includes the best possible pricing, discounts and incentives
  • Creating work forces in areas of interest and ensuring that it includes local farmers, students, inner city youth and volunteers

 

Young and Old Farmers Getting Involved
Farmers Getting Involved

4. What is your company philosophy?

 Our company philosophy is to reduce the importation of foreign food by planting our own healthy organic food to save a nation in more ways than one.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

Our Head Office is based in New York. We don’t currently manufacture but all crops that are grown in Jamaica.

6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

We use as much Jamaican raw material that is available and only go outside if necessary.

7. Are you Jamaican?

I am Jamaican, from St. Catherine.

8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

 Likes about Jamaica:

  1. Nature
  2. Music
  3. Food

Dislikes about Jamaica:

  1. 1. Resources taken for granted
  2. 2. Economy
  3. 3. Crime

9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Organic onion production to replace the 90 percent of onions being imported into Jamaica. Non-GMO organic corn production for local and export markets. Students growing organic food for a lunch program.

Plant Sup'n Jamaica!
Plant Sup’n Jamaica!

10. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?

My favourite project is the organic onion cultivation, because it is a serious Jamaican concern and will have a measurable impact on the importation of onions which is a basic staple in every kitchen.

11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

A true love for Jamaica and wanting to see it recover has inspired me to start this organisation.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Our products will be available under the Farm Up Jamaica label in your local supermarkets in Jamaica. Overseas supermarkets will also have our products where other Jamaican food products are sold.

13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

I spend my free time enjoying nature in Jamaica and visiting places that I’ve never been to.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

If I were Prime Minister for a day I would write a policy to effectively address and reduce crime. This would help to motivate lots of returning residents and tourists and create more income for the Jamaican economy!

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

I believe that Marcus Garvey made the biggest contribution to Jamaica. He believed that anything is possible and proved it. Many Jamaicans wait to travel to other countries to evolve into greatness. I believe we need to evolve at home and make Jamaica a greater country!

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?

 My advice to young Jamaican’s is to firstly learn money management skills and then start their own businesses and grow their companies to become internationally recognised.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

If I could change jobs, I wouldn’t! I love what I do…

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

My favourite company is Grace. I love the way they have been able to show how a Jamaican company can diversify and grow to become an international brand!

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s on-going success?

What contributes to my organizations on-going success is being able to teach people that the glass is half full and not half empty. Bringing inspiration to farmers that thought their lives were over and converting them into patriotic food security soldiers keeps Farm Up Jamaica alive.

20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Our company offers a unique product which is organic Jamaican food. It’s what sets us apart.

21. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build Jamaica?

We can help build Jamaica by becoming a part of the solution. Agriculture only represents 6% of the Jamaican GDP. If the whole country would focus on increasing this number we can build a self-sufficient Jamaica. “Plant Sup’n”.

All Organic
All Organic

 22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

My aspirations for Jamaica is to see the country live up to its popularity, by not only becoming a great place to visit, but a great place to do business.

23. How can people contribute or get involved with Farm Up Jamaica?

People can contribute funds, time, equipment, training, materials, etc.

Farmers can get involved by calling us at: (USA) 516-376-1626 or (JAMAICA) 876-592-5992.

Check out our website: WWW.FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

We can also be reached by email at: INFO@FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

Volunteers can email: VOLUNTEERS@FARMUPJAMAICA.ORG

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Sweet Jamaica interview on ExpatBlog.com

I had an interesting email earlier this month from the lovely Erin, Content Editor for EasyExpat.com inviting me to be the next interviewee in their great series of expat interviews. My ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog is listed on their sister website BlogExpat.com which features great blogs from Expats from all over the world sharing their experiences of moving overseas.

If you have wanderlust or are planning to emigrate to another country then an Expat Website can be a great place to start as it features impartial life experiences of persons already living overseas. EasyExpat is one such website that has informative Expat Guides,  Forums, Classifieds, Job Listings & More. If you have experiences or queries about living abroad, then get involved on the website as  it enables the community and information sharing to grow. The website can be found at: www.easyexpat.com

They also have a BlogExpat Directory: www.blogexpat.com which features Blogs by Expats and the Expat Interviews can be found at: www.interviews.blogexpat.com There is a section that features Expat Author Interviews who have written books, which can be found at: www.books.blogexpat.com

And last, but not least they also have an Expat Services Site & Guide: www.expat-quotes.com Where you can find companies and professional services for all the steps of your relocation abroad. They have specialised services and products to answer your needs for managing your expatriation. You can apply for information and free quotes online and make the best decisions for your move.

This is my Interview…

 

From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica From London to Ocho Rios: Sweet Jamaica

Erin Erin  Date 23 January, 2014 11:18

Sweet Jamaica Hi readers and thank you for taking the time to read this interview. My name is Jules, I am originally from London, but now I live in the sunny and beautiful Caribbean. I have the pleasure of calling Ocho Rios, or Ochi (as we call it), Jamaica my home – the land of wood and water.

1. Why did you move abroad? From the age of 15 I knew I wouldn’t spend all my adult life in the UK, but I didn’t know where I would move to. I love London, but I think living in London can become a trap where you are always pushing for a ‘bigger and better’ everything, whilst quietly thinking ‘will I over work myself before I am able to reach retirement age?’ From the first time I visited Jamaica I fell in love with the freedom, possibility and opportunity on the island and knew I had to find a means someway, somehow, to call it home.

2. How do you make a living?  I do not currently work in Jamaica as there is some bureaucracy to getting a work visa and setting up a business, if you do not have any ancestor or marriage concessions. But, I am in the process of dealing with it and I have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. I have run a construction business in the UK for the last ten years and I have my blog www.sweetjamaica.co.uk and an upcoming business ‘LonJam Trading’ which keep me busy for the time being and enable me to ‘pay the bills’ over here. I also help with the local community, farmers group and my adopted schools in rural St. Ann and am also in the early stages of setting up a charity over here too.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how? I am really close to my family and love to keep in touch. It is actually cheaper for me to call the UK than the other way around as there is a great international plan that Digicel offers to call UK landlines, so I tend to do the calling! I usually talk to my Mum every couple of days to catch up with the goings on in London and the business as she stays up late and the time difference doesn’t bother her. I speak to my sisters at least once a week and my friends a few times a month.

To be honest, I have tried Skype but the connection is terrible and it actually becomes an annoying experience instead of fun! I do fly back to London a few times a year as well though and this enables me to catch up and sort myself out before heading back to my beloved Jamaica.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Being able to experience and immerse myself in a different country and all that it has to offer. Plus, as I was raised, educated and have work / business experience in London, I have been exposed to alternative ways of doing things. This has enabled me to gain a skill set that puts me in a position to encourage and mentor people who haven’t had that opportunity, so that they may realise their full potential and entrepreneurial spirit too. Tackling environmental and recycling issues, sustainable living and alternate farming practices are also of great interest to me and in many ways they are in an embryonic stage in Jamaica, this also gives me maneuverability to get involved and help make a difference in a country that I love so much.

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Jamaica?  Sometimes feeling like all eyes are on me as people are interested to ‘pree’ (look and study) me, so you can lose a sense of anonymity. Also some people will assume things about you from things they have heard about living overseas, and others will offer you ‘tourist’ or uptown prices. I would also like to clarify that people from ‘foreign’ (abroad/overseas) do not have an ATM machine in their navel that gives them money whenever they need it, like most people, we have to work hard to earn money to live! I do find that ‘busting a likkle patois’ tends to make most assumptions about me and the higher prices disappear though!

6. What do you miss most? Aside from thinking about my family and friends a lot and missing out on special occasions with them, I am really happy living in Jamaica so don’t miss much about London. I always wanted to move abroad and I just love Jamaica and all it has to offer. The food over here is delicious and there is so much to do, plus the gorgeous weather is always a massive bonus.

There are times when I do miss the shops in the UK, as good quality items are expensive in Jamaica and on the flip side I miss routing around the £1 shops for bargains!  I sometimes crave foods, such as salt and vinegar walkers, party rings, flour tortilla, or deli foods (cheese, hummus, sundried tomatoes, olives, and pesto) which you cannot buy here, or if you can they are at extortionate prices. Plus other things which I wouldn’t normally eat on a regular basis when back in London…. Such as this evening I made home-made pasta sauce and spaghetti (except after opening the packet I realised it wasn’t spaghetti, but macaroni that was as long as spaghetti – weird!)

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home? I had the advantage of coming here with Jamaican friends the first time I visited on holiday, so we left the shiny hotels behind and stayed with friends and relatives in their homes. Therefore, I immediately immersed myself in the local lifestyle, culture and community and as Jamaican’s are so friendly I always had someone to talk to.

I must admit on the first trip here the language barrier was sometimes frustrating and other times hilarious as we tried to decipher what each other were saying, especially when in the rural areas where they talk faster and their accents are stronger. But, again I took my time, I people watched, I listened keenly and I learnt the local dialect, so that I could converse with people from all walks of life and feel a part of everything. It is also recommended that you learn the ‘going rate’ for things in Jamaica and familiarise yourself with the currency, so you’re not fumbling around when spending.

Five years later when I decided to try living here I moved to a busier area where I didn’t know anyone, to really test myself and see how I coped on my own in Jamaica. This took me away from my comfort zone and the familiarity, but it forced me to go out there and meet people. Luckily for me I have made friends, some of which are my neighbours who live in the same complex as me, but it took a while, so be patient! If you are wanting to mingle in a less in your face way than going everywhere solo, I would recommend attending church, the gym / sporting activities, joining local community groups, or volunteering with local schools, charities, orphanages or environmental groups. You will be amongst like-minded individuals and will easily find kindred spirits to share your time with in Jamaica, so get creative and think ‘outside of the box’.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?  Jamaicans are very direct and have a custom of giving ‘pet names’ (nicknames) to each other, this is often very literal to the individual’s looks or personality traits and would probably be classed as being politically incorrect in the UK. So don’t be surprised if you hear someone being called Fish Head, Knock-Knee, One Foot Man, Blacks, Miss Chin, Indian, and Whitey and so on. However, far from being used as a derogatory insult, it is deemed to be a term of endearment and is not to be taken offensively! To give example, when in the UK a Jamaican meeting his cousins for the first time said ‘What’s up Fatta’ much to the disgust of the rather plump relative. When his mother scolded him afterwards, he retorted ‘What should I call her slimmer?!’, as he genuinely didn’t mean any disrespect and didn’t know why she was so upset!

Jamaican’s much to their credit are very inclusive of all people, and you will see all walks of life included and socialising together. They do not objectify or disassociate from anyone who is less fortunate than themselves, or who for example, has a disability, although many have homophobic tendencies. It is not uncommon to see the young and old mingling together and you will often see examples of this at night spots, or social gatherings where you will find them huddled together playing dominoes, or you will see a man in a wheelchair getting a wild dance from a fit, sexy woman!

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?  That Jamaica is still living in the dark ages and is full of Ganga smoking Rasta’s and / or criminals who want to sell you drugs or harm you! OK it is different to London in many ways, and there are problems here and poverty, but Jamaica is up-to-date with what is going on in the world and is full of mannerly, decent, hard-working, inventive, God fearing individuals. We have internet access, cable TV, the latest gadgets and technology, tools and new cars over here. Plus, all the usual things are on offer over here such as cinema, theatre, stage shows, night clubs, bars, good restaurants, attractions, horse racing, car/motorbike racing, cricket and other sports, museums, art gallery and installations, shopping malls, beaches, basically something to suit all tastes, budgets and age brackets.  There are excellent education facilities, universities and many highly educated and successful people, living in beautiful residences with all the trappings of a westernised culture. To assume that all Jamaicans are illiterate, violent, non-achievers would be a great disrespect and underestimation of all the hard working Jamaican’s over here.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life? I was quite surprised at the cost of living in Jamaica when I first came here. Food prices are comparable or higher than in London, for example I can buy 5 plantain in London for £1.00 or $150.00, but it costs $80.00 for 1 plantain in Jamaica! Water and electricity rates are high and I have to wonder how many of the poorer people and business owners here cope with this expenditure. Electrical items, cars and all imported goods (except cheap Chinese goods) are very expensive and much more so than London. But overall my living expenses are lower than in London and I live an enjoyable, but not excessive lifestyle. Like London you can live high class here, 5 star all the way if you want to go all out, but at the same time you can live more economically if that suits you too.

11. What advice would you give other expats?  First and foremost I would say that Jamaicans are very proud, they can be very direct when talking to you and aren’t shy to express themselves. Remember that we are all people and have the same bodily functions, so you are not better than anyone else – you will be setting yourself up to fail and may receive feelings of contempt if you portray yourself as better than others. Get out there and experience the people and the culture, for they will become your friends, colleagues, neighbours and fellow community members.  Speak to strangers politely and formerly, as it traditional to use the prefix ‘Miss’, ‘Aunty’ or ‘Mr’ and so on, especially when speaking to those who are older than you. Don’t get a false sense of security, or lock yourself up indoors because you are in another country. I would always advise that using common sense, not getting involved in matters that don’t concern you and not being too ‘out there’ as this will keep you out of most discrepancies. What we would class as ‘chit chat’ in the UK, some Jamaican’s would find as being nosey, so don’t get all up in people’s business or ask too many questions about their personal life.

From the first time I visited Jamaica on holiday in 2006, I made it my point of duty to check out the local EVERYTHING as I knew I wanted to live here! If you are planning to move to Jamaica, I would advise coming here first, live amongst the locals and see if you can manage it. It is important to check out different areas and find out about the local amenities, as at some point you will need food, household and personal items, utilities, a bank, post office and so on, so it makes sense to find out if all you need is on offer. Gated communities offer many people peace of mind, whilst living in more remote places suits others – talk to people who have a connection with the area, or other expats.

Expat websites and forums such as www.blogexpat.com and www.easyexpat.com/forums/ are a great impartial way to glean information about the neighbourhood and get the inside scoop on living there.

Oh, and make sure you buy or bring plenty of sealable containers to store food stuffs, as Jamaican insects and creatures are very wily and will find a way to taste your favourite foods and invest in stainless steel as everything else rusts really quickly!

12. When and why did you start your blog? I started my blog in 2012 as a way of sharing my experiences of living in Jamaica.

This is my interview which was originally featured on BlogExpat.com, the original can be found here…

If you enjoyed this interview and my blog then please take one minute to click here and vote for ‘Sweet Jamaica’ blog. Thanks, safe travels 🙂

Sweet Jamaica
Sweet Jamaica

 

Thinking of moving to Jamaica

Michael Lynch – Jamaican Film Maker Interview

Michael Lynch is a modern-day story teller whose name is becoming synonymous with real life Jamaica tales. If you want unbiased, insider information about Jamaica, then the ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary could well be the answer to some of your questions about this diverse and often misunderstood Caribbean island. Far from the usual negative media uptake about Jamaica, Michael manages to uncover the truth about Jamaica, without using clichés or being sentimental.

If you want to learn more about Michael’s documentary, I wrote a post entitled ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary which not only introduces the film, but also includes the means to rent the film (for your viewing pleasure!) On the back of this I invited Michael to take part in a ‘Support Jamaica, Buy Jamaican’ interview, so we can get a behind the scenes insight to this creative and intriguing Film Maker. Michael has great plans to showcase the Documentary in the UK and Part Two is expected to be out in 2014 to continue the coverage of the island and it’s people. Can’t wait to watch it? You can download the documentary here!

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

My name is Michael Lynch I am the Producer and Director of the company.

 2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

The company was established in Jamaica in January 2001 and Uk in November 2012.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

After checking, sending and reading emails, text and other social networks. I start work on organising music and video projects along with other technical consultant work for the company.

Michael Lynch (org. band 920)
Michael Lynch (org. band 920)

 4. What is your company philosophy?

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we should dance.

 5. How much of your work takes place in Jamaica?

At present very little but later in 2014 we plan to do a lot more filming and music production.

 6. Are you Jamaican?

I consider myself Jamaican but I was born in the UK to Jamaican parents.

7. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about living and working in Jamaica?

Likes: Sunshine, people and food. Dislikes: roads, crime, mosquitos.

8. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

Working on setting up a training school for media and technology.

9. What is your personal favourite production that you have made and why?

“This is Jamaica documentary”, traveling and discovering Jamaica was very exciting for me, meeting and talking with the Jamaican people has learnt me a lot.

This is Jamaica Documentary Cover
This is Jamaica Documentary Cover

10. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

My inspiration and role model would have to be my mother who instilled in me great life lessons, love for all people and pride.

11. Where can we buy your productions in Jamaica and overseas?

At present rental through the website http://computamax/thisisjamaica and Amazon video on demand for rental, sale and download.

12. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

Chillin out at any of the many beautiful locations.

13. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

Set up a mass education and training program for all Jamaicans especially those in poor areas and the challenged.

Marcus Garvey
Marcus Garvey

14. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

Marcus Garvey for his strength leadership and commitment to his people.

15. 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?

Believe in what you do, think positive at all times have faith and never give up! Prayer, Practise, Patience and Persistence.

16. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

I would have to say Digicel for opening up new markets for providing an alternative mobile solution for the Jamaican people.

17. What do you feel you and your company has to offer viewers and listeners in international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

We are proud to be a company producing positive awareness of Jamaica and its people we aim to provide more discovery of our identity, history and culture to all people with any connections or interest in Jamaica.

18. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?

By coming together as one people, to put aside trivial matters, I believe education is one of the key factors, to look at the many great things the island has to offer and decide to work together with a common aim and strengthen the motto (out of many one people).

19. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

To see Jamaica become completely independent, for crime to diminish.

20. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?

I believe whole heartedly in that our home grown food is the best. Eat what we grow, grow what we eat every time!

Read the SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! post here…

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Want to find out more?

Read Sweet Jamaica’s review of the ‘This is Jamaica Documentary’ in this post…

Check out the official website for Computamax Productions here.

On 24th November 2013 Michael Lynch created column inches in The Gleaner, a national newspaper in Jamaica when staff reporter Sadeke Brooks produced a article based on an interview with Michael, which can be read here.

If you would like to hear more about Michael Lynch and his documentary, he has also been featured on a BBC Radio Derby Interview here with Devon Daley .

If you would like to rent a copy of Michael Lynch’s  ‘This is Jamaica’ Documentary for 7 days it costs US$1.99, click here.

Check out the Facebook page and click like here!

Inspirational Love Songs back
Inspirational Love Songs back

Eating Jamaican Spicy Pickle!

If chocolate tea (hot chocolate), real vanilla or spicy pickle are your thing, then you will love this Jamaican food manufacturer…

 

 Spice Girl Products

The second interview in my SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN! campaign lead me to another inspirational Jamaican woman who is  rocking the natural food manufacturing industry with her sensational pickles, natural vanilla and chocolate teas (hot chocolate). Sheryl Muir is the Managing Director and general superwoman of Spice Girl Products a truly authentic Jamaican enterprise that you will want to taste and savour again and again, as all the ingredients are grown right here in Jamaica…..

The Spice Girl Range of products on offer currently includes:

[list style=”1″ underline=”1″]

  • Spice Girl’s chocolate tea is made from a selection of seeds from the finest cocoa pods, the seeds are naturally sun-dried for about 7 days to remove the moisture and capture the chocolate flavour, after parching and roasting they are pounded in a mortar with a pestle and formed into Jamaica Spice Girl Chocolate balls. The fabulous kit has three (3) Chocolate balls, Vanilla Bean, Nutmeg and Cinnamon Leaves to create the perfect cup of chocolate tea (hot chocolate).
  • They also offer dried vanilla beans (pods) and a natural Vanilla Extract which has no sugar or preservatives, which is “aged” for at least six months before bottling to develop flavour.
  • Plus, a Vegetable Pickle that contains scotch bonnet peppers, carrots, onions, cucumber, pimento seeds and vinegar, which can be enjoyed with fish, sardines, pork or poultry for a vibrant and tasty condiment.

[/list]

Did you know?

Vanilla beans are natural fruit from vining orchid vanilla Planifolia Andrews, the plant produces flowers after the first three years and annually thereafter. The flowering period last for about five (5) months of the year, each flower survives for only eight hours and must be hand pollinated within this time to make sure a bean which stays to the vine for about nine months to achieve maturity. Beans are thereafter naturally sun cured and conditioned to achieve the Worlds “Supreme Vanilla Bean From Jamaica”.

My Interview with Sheryl Muir of Spice Girl Products gave an insight of what manufacturing Jamaican food is all about…

Vanilla Extract Spice Girl Products
Vanilla Extract Spice Girl Products

Interview questions

 

1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?

I am Sheryl Muir, my primary place of residence is Kingston Jamaica and I am the founder and Managing Director of Spice Girl Products.

 

2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?

Spice Girl Products was established as a sole trader operation in April 2010.The genesis of the company reflected a desire and response to my training and courses at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) where I pursued studies in Business Administration, and Tourism & Hospitality.

3. Tell me about your typical working day?

My typical day starts at 5 a.m and revolves around my family and organizing my business. I am the mother of two girls ages eight and nine years old. After feeding, preparing and taking them for school I become immersed in any of the following activities depending on appointments or schedules. Visiting the country to arrange raw material supplies and check on happenings at the vanillary, actual manufacture of products, packaging, labelling, preparing orders, delivering products or instructing deliveries, meeting with clients, graphic artist, packaging suppliers or, checking on in store displays and sometimes facilitating in store sampling, promotion and banking and other financial issues. These activities must be completed by 3 p.m when it becomes time for collecting the girls, seeing to their extra curricular activities and feeding, supervising homework, spending some quality time and seeing them off to bed by 8pm. My administrative and computer time begins there after and I am usually in bed by 10:00p.m with some t.v. time until sleep takes over.

4. What is your company philosophy?

Quality product, Quality Service.

5. Where is your Head Office based and do you manufacture / produce your products in Jamaica?

Spice Girl primary raw materials are produced at the Elan Farms in Hope Bay Portland, Woodside in St.Mary. Packaging, quality control and distribution is executed in Kingston.

Jamaican Vanilla Pods
Jamaican Vanilla Pods

6. Do you use Jamaican raw materials in your products?

Raw materials used in Spice Girl Products are locally produced.

7. Are you Jamaican?

I was born in St.Elizabeth, Jamaica.

8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

My three likes about Jamaica are:

  1. Perceived potential of the country to provide a truly rewarding experience.
  2. The moderate climatic conditions of the country throughout the year.
  3. Potential friendly tourism destination.

My three dislikes are

  1. Visionless politicians who are clueless to what is required to facilitate business development.
  2. The high crime rate and praedial larceny.
  3. Unnecessary bureaucracy and lack of developmental opportunity to promote productive enterprise.

 

9. What new company plans and visions are you working on?

For 2013 we intend to launch our Vanilla flavoured teas and open the Spice Girl farm tours in conjunction with Elan Farms in Hope Bay Portland for sometime in July.

10. What is your personal favourite product that you make and why?

Natural Vanilla Extract from the “Supreme Beans” produced at Elan Farms. We hope to educate Jamaicans and international health conscious persons to go easy on the artificial vanilla and start using natural vanilla.

vanilla extract 114ml Spice Girl Products
vanilla extract 114ml Spice Girl Products

11. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?

My inspiration is definitely my girls, they have been my support team through thick and thin.

12. Where can we buy your products in Jamaica and overseas?

Spice Girl Products can be found in the Mobay Airport, thirty-two supermarket outlets and online @ www.spicegirlproducts.com

13. How do you love to spend your free time in Jamaica?

Free time ….Visiting new and interesting adventures or attractions around the country.

14. If you could be Prime Minister of Jamaica for a day, what would you do?

The country has been in degradation for too long, for one day to be effective or meaningful, however, it is of primary importance for the Prime Minister to recognise the importance of National Empowerment of the masses not through marginal programs but through programs that are sustainable and encourage, production, consumption and export. The packaging and marketing of Jamaica as a tourism product is seen by us to be the only true solution to Jamaica’s’ economic and by extension crime and other problems….

15. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?

I believe Norman Manley made a significant contribution with his vision for community development and Edward Seaga has made a good try for cultural awareness.

Jamaican Vegetable Spice Pickle
Jamaican Vegetable Spice Pickle

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?

Stay true to yourself, perseverance and dedication despite the obstacles and definitely learn to accept changes wherever necessary. Must gain knowledge in their respective field and surround themselves with positive people that will always encourage and support them.

17. If you could change jobs, what would you do?

I’ve asked myself this question many times…………but definitely being paid to travel to other countries and learn more about their culture, food, attractions and adventures (Professional Tourist).

18. Apart from your own company, what is your favourite Jamaican company and why?

Grace Foods…..They had a vision and a plan and they execute it as a family……They are an inspiration to many young entrepreneurs.

19. What do you believe contributes most to your company’s ongoing success?

Quality products, good service and the support of loyal customers, well wishers and immediate family.

20. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?

Our unique products. There are no other commercial vanillaries in the English-speaking Caribbean, United States, Canada or Europe.

Spice Girl Products logo
Spice Girl Products logo

21. How do you believe we as a nation can help to build Jamaica?

As stated earlier massive Jamaica packaging and tourism promotion.To achieve this in a meaningful way we need to change the mindset of our people to move away from the hand out mentality. Unfortunately, our current crop of politicians on all sides of the aisle seem to lack the moral or entrepreneurial ability to lead such a charge. We must be contented with tiny steps until…….

22. What are your aspirations for Jamaica?

To have a peaceful, welcoming and productive country where the masses are truly independent and empowered.

23. What are your thoughts on the ‘SUPPORT JAMAICA BUY JAMAICAN!’ post on Sweet Jamaica’s blog?

Your concept is very much in keeping with the principle of packaging Jamaica for consumption….We wholeheartedly ” Support Jamaica Buy Jamaica” Concept.

Thanks Sheryl it was a pleasure interviewing you…. anytime you need a food sampler ‘hail me up!’

 

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

Want to learn more, buy something or get in touch with Spice Girl Products you can do it here:

Website: www.spicegirlproducts.com 

Mailing Address: Woodside, Pear Tree Grove, St Mary, Jamaica.

Please contact us at any of the following email address:

spicegirlproducts@gmail.com

products@shopspicegirlproducts.com

info@shopspicegirlproducts.com

Telephone: 1-876-484-9976

Spice Girl Products

“Spice for Life!”

Smell and Feel Irie!

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.

Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa
Racquell Brown of Irie Rock Yaad Spa

 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?

 Yes!

 8. Tell me your top 3 likes and dislikes about Jamaica?

 Likes:

 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.

 Dislikes:

 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.

Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group
Irie Rock Yaad Spa Product Group

 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.

Irie Rock Body and Skincare
Irie Rock Body and Skincare

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:

Website: www.irierock.com
Email: info@irierock.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/irierockyaadspa

Irie ROCK …” The Love Of All Things Natural” ….Your Jamaican Treat

 Press Captions on Irie Rock 2012

 

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20121110/news/news5.html

 

 

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120820/flair/flair5.html

 

 

http://jamaica-star.com/thestar/20120427/news/news6.html