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Vincy Pride, 38 Years Strong! (Part 1)
We’re all about our blue, yellow and green throughout the month of October. We anticipate the days when we can come out in our colours and proudly wave the national flag and declare that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the piece of rock in the Caribbean Sea that we are glad to call home. This year after the annual Independence Day parade we had even more activities through which we could express our Vincy pride thanks to Invest SVG. The Everything Vincy Exhibition held at the E.T Joshua Airport over a three day period (October 27th-29th), was the place to be during the independence weekend. This new initiative is aimed at highlighting the products and services that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has to offer and encouraging entrepreneurial spirit as we continue on in nation building. Training workshops were also offered to the business owners who took part in the exhibition to gain knowledge on topics such as customer service and marketing which equips the business owners with tools that would help them take their businesses to the next level. This initiative is one that we are happy to see so well executed and the patrons are excited to attend in the coming years as it gets bigger and better. Here’s a little insight on some of the exhibitors and their products.
Eight years ago, Christal Oliver the founder of Olive art Designs, was a lab technician at the St. Vincent Girls’ High school with some free time and a hobby. This was the beginning of her journey to business owner. She hand-sewed bags at the time as a way to overcome boredom but her peers had such a positive response to the items she made that is wasn’t too long until she saw the opportunity to make her pastime into something greater.She decided to invest in a sewing machine to experiment. Experimentation led to new creations and opportunities and Olive Art designs is the end result of a young lady following her passion, believing in her vision and striving to give her very best to her customers. She credits her success thus far to patience, practice and persistence, and she’s always reading and learning so as to execute new ideas that could help her improve her business. She makes high quality custom handbags for every occasion and hopes that her creations will allow her to put St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the map, as she endeavors to cross boundaries regionally and internationally showcasing and gaining appreciation for her handiwork.
About six months ago, Rene Benn had a literal dream. A dream that one day, she went ‘dumpster-diving’! In the dream, she was accompanied by her husband and they were taking some huge bottles out of the trash. She then proceeded to decorate the bottles and they turned out beautifully. She awoke from her dream and realized what a great idea it was and Rene’s Ornamentations was born. She collected bottles and jars from her friends and family and any shops that were willing to give them to her. The artistic ability came naturally and she transforms trash to treasure creating vases and candle holders by hand. Her desire is to have a storefront for this venture as currently she only makes her items by order and uses social media to showcase them.
The Kalinago Tribe Essential Oils were definitely one of the standout items. There was basil, lemongrass, ginger, peppermint and many more to choose from. Each essential oil has its list of health benefits and the potency is unmistakable. The business was founded over 15 years ago by Augustine Sutherland and he’s proud to say that every ingredient is tested and harvested here from our rugged rocky mountains and undergoes a steam distillation process to produce these pure organic essential oils. In the beginning as a trained hair and scalp specialist, he would make small batches of the oils to combat problems his clients were experiencing and it has grown since then into a business that offers also eucalyptus inhalers and infused massage oils. His hope is to have the oils certified as organic by the agricultural department so that the world would know that the products are of the highest quality and are prepared with our health in mind.
Grow In Time is a creative social enterprise that seeks to bring together rehabilitation, land conservation and poverty alleviation in one project. Over the past two years a sustainable livelihood project has been implemented in our two correctional institutions that is coordinated by Vonnie Roudette. Through this initiative inmates are being taught and certified in their training to make mats, baskets and other products from Vetiver grass and Grow in time its marketing arm. This venture gives the individuals the skills they need to create an alternative way of earning a living. One of the best benefits of this project is that it takes much less money to start a business making the grass products than to start a business involving other skills that one may learn while incarcerated. The individuals are given a feeling of empowerment and this causes a huge positive change in their self image as they are given an opportunity to take care of their loved ones and contribute to their communities. The conservation aspect is in regards to the grass that is used. The grass is an excellent solution for soil erosion and great for slope stabilization, so this will tie into the next phase of the project which will be the planting initiative that will be executed by the former inmates. It is still early in the game but the results so far have show that all the individuals who have received the training have not committed any further offences and they report a more positive outlook on life. The products are simply exquisite and the initiative is a life-changing one.
From a very young age Anita Garraway knew she wanted to be her own boss and have her own business. As a child she would make and sell crochet crafts, cupcakes and fudge. In 1997 she got the opportunity to do an agro-processing course that laid the foundation for Aurora’s. She learned the skills necessary to produce and bottle her green seasoning, pepper sauces and pepper relish, as well as processing fish and chicken ham. She also produces gluten free breadfruit cakes, beetroot and Black cakes without egg. Her products can be found in supermarkets throughout St. Vincent. After so many years of hard work and sacrifices, she can now say that she is living her dream.
Natalie Cato of Kato’s Katering invited the patrons to ‘Feel the fun’ with samples of her premium rum punch, Red bikini. The Red Bikini is a rich and smooth concoction of fruit juice, spices and local rum and the premium taste is unmistakable. Ms Cato has perfected the recipe over the past few years and has now started promoting the product. Her hope is to get the product on the shelves in our supermarkets. Currently it is only produced by order and sourced directly from her.
Click here to read part 2 and find out more about the exhibitors and their products and services from the event!
Photos by Ricky Hill, exclusively for Express Vinci®
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