Cocktails with Kenia Mattis

Sunday, January 20, 2013

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A new year equals a new outlook for Kenia Mattis. Catching up over evening cocktails at Devon House's Mahogany Tree Bar, the exceedingly charming Mattis — dressed in a Drenna LUNA ensemble — clues us in to her new journey as an audiobook entrepreneur, why she admires Warren Buffett, and her take on the professional glass ceiling for women.

What are you sipping?

A virgin pina colada, but typically my drink of choice is a blended fruit punch.

What kind of day are you having?

It's been an excellent day and very productive. I printed my first business cards today for my company, Listen Mi Caribbean Limited -- which I incorporated with very good friends and partners of mine — and you are officially the first person to receive one.

Give us some insight into what Listen Mi is about.

I don't want to reveal too much just yet, but we will be doing, among other things, audiobook production for Jamaican and Caribbean writers.

What's in your clutch?

My business card holder, my BlackBerry, Clean & Clear oil absorbing sheets, and lip balm.

Who does your hair?

My hair is done by two very special people: Wayne in Pavillion Mall and Lisa at Jerry's Complex, off Molynes Road. I love both their work.

Who does your nails?

My nails are actually done by Lisa's sister Dionne.

How would you describe your sense of style?

I would say natural, down-to-earth yet classic. I don't tend to follow up on what the fads are. I like to put on something that reflects my mood for the day.

What prompted the decision to leave your job in corporate Jamaica to venture out into entrepreneurship?

My three passions are music, media and marketing. I wrote my first song which was picked up by a music artiste in 2009. It appeared on the album Kingston Morning by world renowned cellist Dave Egger. The first line of Luciano's song Earth Paradise was actually mine. I studied marketing, another love of mine and which was what my former secure job was about. I also have a third passion, and I was inspired by the media profession by my mom Dionne Mattis, who is a veteran broadcaster for IRIE FM. I have watched her work over the years and have been a huge admirer of hers. So, hopefully, I have picked up tips along the way to help in my marketing consultancy to produce ads, which is also a feature of my business.

Do you think a glass ceiling exists for female entrepreneurs similar to the one in the corporate world?

That's an interesting question and I'm sure there probably is, but I am not deterred by that. I think now, more than ever, women are such a force to be reckoned with that if it is that you want quality, talent and passion and I'm in front of you, well then you might want to be talking to me.

Is the audiobook market a viable business avenue?

We are not positioning that product for taking off today; we are looking at the opportunities that will be arising tomorrow. The fact of the matter is that we are an audio society, more so than we are a reading society in the Caribbean. Our mission is actually to empower open minds. People are multitasking and they want to listen to a book while they are jogging, driving to work, or doing other things. With the increased penetration of mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, now more than ever accessing e-books and audiobooks is even more a thing to do, and book sales are declining worldwide while audiobook sales shot up 10 per cent last year and it's now a billiondollar-plus industry.

What are you listening to on your iPod or car stereo?

I have two very special CDs in my car just now. I discovered Ernie Ranglin's E B @ Noon the other day while digging through my mother's collection. I quite liked that CD and jammed to it all the way to Ocho Rios and back yesterday. I am also a fan of Romain Virgo's The System.

What book is on your bedside table now?

I'm reading Robert Greene's Mastery. I am a huge fan of his. The book details how to attune yourself to life's tasks that will make it easier to follow your passion. Once you identify whatever your special interests lie in, being dedicated and overcoming obstacles isn't much of a chore; it becomes fun.

Who is your business idol?

Probably Warren Buffett. I think he makes the most prudent choices. He is always very practical, and if I can have half the business sense that he has, I think I would be going places.

What's your idea of the perfect man?

My embodiment of the perfect man is as handsome as my grandfather when he was in his prime, and as hard-working as a family man can be. He is supportive of what I want to be and achieve, and he is a man of God.

What's your idea of the perfect date?

The perfect date, which I am yet to go on, is a long drive to the middle of nowhere that ends in a picnic spread and sharing a bottle of wine.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Ten years from now I would have mastered myself and been attuned to all my areas of interest, and pursuing with all the vigour and vim that I have now and would have achieved success in those areas. My mom would like me to say that I will be dropping my kids by my mother's house.




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