Beverley East’s big idea

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, December 21, 2009    

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The achievements of Jamaican graphologist Beverley East remind us that we can create our own opportunities. Daughter of a humble Jamaican family, this charming innovator now operates virtual offices in Washington DC, London and Jamaica.

Born in Kingston (a Victoria Jubilee baby), Bev was left in the care of her grandmother when she was a toddler after her mother migrated to England. Her father and sister followed soon afterwards and at four years old, Bev boarded the boat with a family friend to be reunited with her family.

From an early age, fame seemed to follow her. When her mother returned to Jamaica to care for her ailing grandmother, seven-year-old Beverley accompanied her and spent two years here. It was at the time of Jamaica's Independence and Bev somehow got to meet then US Vice President Lyndon B Johnson. Bev explained that her mother Winniebell East was a gifted designer who would make all the gowns for our local beauty contestants and notable ladies, so they got to know the who's who of Jamaica.

Who would dream, though, that one day Bev would be sought after by leading television networks? She recently received The Flori Roberts Trailblazer Award (by Flori Roberts Cosmetic Company) for being the only woman worldwide qualified and working in both psychological and forensic graphology.

"As a child, I was made to feel special," says Beverley. The author of a bestseller, Finding Mr Write, and more recently, the novel, Reaper of Souls, about the 1957 Kendal crash, Beverley says her next book may very well be Bar Mitzvah Girl. Yes indeed. While her mother worked long hours, four Jewish sisters who lived across the street became very attached to little Beverley.

"These ladies became like surrogate parents, taking me to school, attending all my school events, tracing off any teacher that took liberty with me," recounts Bev. "Can you imagine this little black girl being constantly fussed over by Jewish ladies? I lived a charmed life; I was protected by my own family and by these sisters. My confidence grew because I was never harshly treated."

Beverley's family protected her because they did not want her to be exposed to racism. "My mother continued to sew and since she made so many bridal dresses, I was the perennial little flower girl, very cosy within their circle of family and close friends," she remembers.

In her teenage years, Beverley's parents separated, and it was their love for their daughter which brought them back together. "I went to Germany as an exchange college student and they were so anxious to get news about me, they kept calling each other to ask, 'You hear from Bev?' Until eventually they reconciled!"

After Beverley returned from college, her father passed away, leaving his large house in South London to his children. "I decided that I would buy out their share and live there," says Bev. "I went to the bank manager for a loan and he said if I could show him how I was going to repay he would help me. Well, I worked three jobs to meet my payments: my regular day job, a cleaning job in the morning and another cleaning job in the evening. Whenever anyone tells me what he or she wants, I emphasise that you have to work for it. Eventually, I got promoted and also took in tenants."

Bev's first job was with a placement service and she was fascinated with the company's use of graphology - handwriting analysis - to determine the characteristics of the prospective employee. She decided to study graphology and launched her company with the catchy (some thought racy) name, Strokes & Slants.

"It was slow going at the beginning," recalls Bev, "until a friend suggested that I should write a book about graphology." Thus, Beverley set herself to the task of producing Finding Mr Write, a four-year exercise which paid off handsomely. Random House accepted her manuscript, complete with a six-figure initial payout. "That put me on the map and changed my life," said Bev.

After marrying an American, Bev moved to Washington DC where her only child, her cherished son Diag Deje Davenport, was born. She credits her former husband, a lawyer, for encouraging her to go into forensic document examination. Just before her book came out, Washington Post award-winning journalist Patrice Gaines wrote a story on Bev's work, and by coincidence (or "God-incidence"), a front-page story got dropped and the story on Beverley East got top billing. "I got calls from so many people," says Bev. "Even the White House called to ask me to analyse Monica Lewinsky's handwriting!"

Beverley was contacted also by investigators to analyse the ransom note that had been found at the home of little beauty queen Jon Benet Ramsay on the night of her murder. Beverley did 26 speaking engagements on the subject. Her theory? "I believe the ransom note was dictated to the writer," she says. "It did not appear genuine. It was too long and too detailed. There was no rhythm and lots of pauses."

Strokes & Slants this year celebrated 20 eventful years in business. Beverley operates out of London, Washington DC and the Caribbean where she does a great deal of forensic work. In Jamaica, it is mostly Will & Testament and Land Transfer fraud. She is a one-woman business, sub-contracting when needed. "After 9/11, I had nine people working with me because death certificates from other states were being altered to say New York; people were trying to cash in on the special insurance that was being offered," disclosed Bev. She was also a media consultant on the anthrax letters.

In interviews on ABC and MSNBC, seen on her website

Beverley proves that she has mastered the science of graphology. Visit the site to learn how to analyse the handwriting in those romantic Christmas cards as you search for your "Mr or Ms Right". Beverley East's sparkling career grew from the courage of following up on her big idea. What is yours?

Mourning Michael Pryce

We in the media fraternity are grieving the loss of journalist Michael Pryce. He was enthusiasm personified, even in the face of cancer, still going after the most challenging assignments while he battled the disease. Our heartfelt sympathy to his family and his ever-supportive CVM colleagues.




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