Success Stories

 

This moment created what is now the only company making candy in exclusively Caribbean flavours, Sweetie Confectionery. Aarons, the company’s CEO, left her full time career in marketingto pursue a dream of owning her own business, and manufacturing candy that Jamaicans bothhome and away could enjoy.

 The early days were challenging; Patria-Kaye had to start small and starting small means becoming skilled in many areas quickly. “I did everything!” she said, “Chased orders, supervisedproduction, delivery…, everything. It was exhausting but well worth the effort and helped meappreciate every role.”

Managing the workload was only half of the challenge. Patria-Kaye had to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur, “It’s a BIG jump from being a kick butt marketer to being a kickbutt CEO, especially in a field that’s new to me. Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme really helped make me make that transition.”

There were also difficulties related to the development of the formulae for the candy. She worked with the Scientific Research Council to create the flavour profiles for her products, “The Scientific Research Council is a little known gem. The team there helped with the development of my formulations so that now I can offer the world a jackfruit sweetie with all the yummy taste and none of the smell.”

With drive, determination and a keen eye for opportunities, Sweetie started to expand its reach across Jamaica. In its first year of business, the company quickly grew to distributing their products to 150 locations. Then came exporting, “JAMPRO gave me my first exporting break,” explained Patria-Kaye, “Because of their Business to Business matchmaking session at the Diaspora Conference in 2015, I met Noel Dempster, my distributor in London.

I pitched to him in Montego Bay, Now, the company is exporting to the USA, UK and US Virgin Islands and has launched three products.

 Aarons said she is sometimes overwhelmed with the success of the company, “I can’t send brittle to the UK fast enough, and Paradise Plum flies off the shelves everywhere.  The business is growing faster than my pocket can keep up with.”

She attributes the company’s success to the large market interested in Sweetie’s products. 

With the Diaspora, Jamaicans at home and persons living in other Caribbean islands, there are millions of persons who appreciate the taste of tropical fruit candy, and are attracted to the nostalgic feeling when consuming traditional products like the “Paradise Plum”. Patria describes Sweetie as driven by the possibility of bringing a little piece of paradise to an under-served Caribbean people.

For the future, Aarons aims to have a 10% share of the Caribbean confectionery market over the next five years. In addition, she intends to launch a new product format, new flavours and export to two new markets every year for the next five years.

With all of this success, it is not surprising that the CEO has only positive things to say about starting a business in Jamaica, and recommends that other Jamaicans follow suit. She shared her perspective on doing business in Jamaica, saying,

 “Jamaica has many untapped opportunities. I encourage everyone to critically look at everything they interact with. Ask the question, “Where was this made?” And if the answer isn’t Jamaica ask “Why not?” and “How can I make it here?”

With her resolve to excel, Aarons looks forward to the future of Sweetie with positive ambitions, and sees many possibilities on the horizon.

 

With Jamaica boasting world class sprinters, ground breaking bobsledders and outstanding cricketers and footballers, it is no doubt that the sporting industry is big business. For 22 years Wynlee Distributors has ensured that the island is well represented in the creation of quality uniforms for a variety of sporting activities. 

Wynlee Trading produces a wide variety of sportswear for top athletes as well as aspiring ones at the club and school level or for those who just want to keep fit.  Winsome Halliman stands proudly among some of Wynlee’s products.

“What’s special about Wynlee is that we’re open and flexible: we design and create uniforms with the style and colours that our clients want,” says Winsome Halliman, CEO of Wynlee Distributors. “Teams want uniforms that reflect their institution or team colours”, she adds. In the early days the company focused on the local market, with the hope of one day expanding beyond the borders of their home ground. Then five years ago Wynlee visited the JAMPRO offices for help in expanding their business into the overseas market, realizing that export was vital to the company’s survival.  Uncertain as to how to approach the export market, Wynlee soon found themselves in capable hands.

 

Wynlee Trading  increased their export sales by 60 per cent as a result of their participation in Export Max, earning them the trophy for Highest Growth in Export Sales.  Winsome Halliman receives the award from JAMPRO President, Diane Edwards.

Halliman explains, “JAMPRO set up a structure for us, and when Export Max came along we were invited to apply, and were selected.” It was a game changer for Wynlee. “They taught us the importance of quality and assisted us in getting into the export market: we benefitted from consultancy, developed marketing plans and went to trade shows in Trinidad, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and China.  When we were falling, the consultants pulled us up.  We learned the importance of social media, and our export business has grown in the last two years.”


 JAMPRO’s Export Max helped Wynlee Trading to increase their export sales by 60 per cent in 2013. Winsome Halliman checks her mail for new orders.

Now Wynlee has expanded into the Caribbean and as far afield as New York. Teams in Cayman, the Turks and Caicos Islands and Trinidad are sporting Wynlee creations on the field.

Throughout the years Wynlee has learned that since they can’t compete on price, they have to offer their customers specialized design and quality products. For the next five years they plan to move into new export markets, beginning with additional Caribbean countries. They want to improve the quality of life of their employees, who are the backbone of the company’s success. 

 

 

Wynlee Trading acquired machine embroidery equipment through the technical support of JAMPRO and its partners. This equipment  allows them to offer their clients customized embroidered logos and other designs.

Winsome Halliman is reaching out to financing companies to make it easier for small and medium sized companies to access capital for their businesses. To companies who want to improve their export capacity, she says: “Apply to participate in Export Max II.  You have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.”

For more information on Export Max I and Export Max II, click here.

 

Entrepreneur Racquell Brown has translated her love and passion for Jamaica's flora into a lucrative line of exotic, all-natural skincare products. Operating under the Irie Rock Yaad Spa brand, Brown has developed a range of mood-boosting scents, namely: Papaya Path, Mango Walk, Coconut Sensation, Vanilla Bliss, Citrus Fields, Coffee Delight, Pineapple Express, Watermelon Fresh and Jamaican Cocoa Butter.

Her products are available in most of Jamaica's high-end boutique properties, as well as in pharmacies and gift shops across the island.   

“Hotels are currently my biggest customers, as well as spas and gift shops. Those products usually only reach to the tourists and I would like to expand to locals and pushing that as a core market,” she said.

Irie Rock has consistently participated in JAMPRO’s Business Linkages programmes, in particular the annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) tourism trade fair. In 2012, the Irie Rock brand benefited from favourable exposure in the Commonwealth Secretariat-sponsored Spring Fair International in the United Kingdom. Irie Rock products are sold in Trinidad and the Bahamas, and Brown is seeking to find markets in the UK and North America.

Brown applauded JAMPRO’s ongoing efforts to facilitate her spa line, noting that the agency provides her with constant feedback, updates and invitations to useful and informative trade events.

In 2012, JAMPRO-landed investment ISOCON-JLB International established a shipping container cleaning and repair facility at the New Port East in the Kingston Free Zone. The cleaning facility, which is the first of its kind locally, will provide much needed services at a global standard for food grade International Standards Organization (ISO) containers.

Digital cable and broadband service provider Columbus Communications launched its operations in Jamaica under the Flow brand in 2006 and, to date, has saturated roughly 50 per cent of the market with a customer base of over half a million subscribers. They have so far invested US$250 million in local development, which represents roughly 25 per cent of the company's total outlay inside the Caribbean region.

The company’s confidence in Jamaica is reflected in its decision to invest US$40 million annually over the next four years on its operations in Jamaica as part of its aggressive development geared at strengthening its foothold in major centres across the island. Flow Jamaica currently employs about 600 persons, while engaging another 200 as outside contractors.

Since entering the local market, the company has driven commercial internet prices down by as much as 98 per cent and residential prices by 76 per cent. This has contributed to Jamaica being recognised as a more competitive jurisdiction for investors in a range of services that require competitively priced broadband capacity.

Fiwi Foods Limited is listed among the many Jamaican food processors who are making a name for their brands in international markets. Since its inception in 2006, Fiwi Foods has been manufacturing its signature jerk seasoning and honey glaze sauce to meet international standards.

The company's two flagship products were a hit at the 56th Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. Arising out of the JAMPRO-facilitated mission to the event, Fiwi Foods generated significant sales and visits to its website.

Fiwi Foods Managing Director Andrei Brissett praises JAMPRO's facilitation of exporters to international events: “The work of JAMPRO has been excellent, not only as it relates to export promotion, but also in its overall efforts through seminars and workshops that guide young businesses towards success,” he stated.

Fiwi Foods has utilised several avenues for distribution of its products. Quite notably, the company has been supplying its jerk seasoning as value-added input for other products and as a main ingredient/base product in food preparation. Brissett plans to continue establishing the Fiwi Foods brand locally while aggressively tackling the export market, in keeping with the brand's mantra, “Lively up your taste!”

Connect with an exciting Jamaican food entrepreneur, click here for the JAMPRO Contact Centre.

Pages