From Style To BIZ...

Sunday, September 16, 2012    

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Alissa Forrester On...

Are women better at business?

I find that women have better people skills and have a natural knack for communicating with clients.

Pressures of owning a business

Before venturing into my own business I worked for an investment company. My company is fairly new and so I have to work very hard to ensure that it is marketed and operated properly. I have to consider how the bills will be paid.

The Education System

Though our education system may have its flaws it is on par with any other country globally. The foundation I got in Jamaica gave me the confidence and skill that I needed to excel academically when I went to college in the United States. The strategy used here ensures that you truly know your material inside and out, perhaps because we use less multiple-choice testing methodology.

Environmental Sustenance

Our sister company focuses on recycling plastic bottles: we collect the bottles and grind them back to their natural form, before exporting them.

Kate Hendrickson

Why did you decide to return to Jamaica?

Leaving Jamaica forever never crossed my mind. I studied abroad and wanted to come back to help build the economy in some way.

Our Time Is Coming...

It is interesting to see the nine of us here as friends, working in separate business areas — each impacting the next. It is a great feeling to attend events and see young people who are making a mark in their respective businesses. It gives me a sense of hope that a positive change is coming.

Drew Brennan

On being upbeat about Jamaica...

There is absolutely no excuse to not excel in Jamaica. It was particularly challenging for me at first because I opted for the film industry. It isn't easy to produce a film in Jamaica but it isn't impossible! We have tremendous talent in this country and the potential to achieve great things. We just need to stop making excuses.

Kristina Broderick

Why are you here in Jamaica?

I have to be honest. It was never my intention to come back to Jamaica. But I must admit it worked out better to stay here. I find that it is easier to make a name for yourself in Jamaica than in the United States or Europe.

Pressures of owning a business

One of the major challenges I encounter in my business is the tax system. When I initially started my business I imported a few watches and the tax worked out to be 22.5 per cent. At the time I didn't meet the threshold and so I could not charge GCT on my products. It is a tough situation to deal with, but it has been working out for me.

Lleana Benjamin

Why did you return home?

I was living my dream life in Atlanta, but I was living without direction. Though I never felt isolated because I was always surrounded by family, I still longed to come back to Jamaica to focus on my future.

Are women better at business?

It is very hard for a young female to be taken seriously in business, at times. I have had clients come in and I explain a solution for a technical problem. Rather than trusting my answer, they turn around and ask for a second opinion or ask to speak to the technical person. I remember one instance when a client spoke to my father who in turn offered the exact solution that I gave.

On Competition

It is not my goal to control 100 per cent of my market. In fact, I know that it is impossible. So it baffles me that persons would work so hard to try and undermine businesses they see as potential competition. It shouldn't have to be like that.

Pressures of owning a business

When you work for someone else you don't have to worry about your next pay cheque. But when you are the employer — all you think about is the profitability of the business. I eat, sleep, and breathe my business.

Challenges to the Production Sector

Many Jamaicans would like to start a business in production and manufacturing; however, it is very difficult with the current cost of energy. The high cost of energy remains one of the major deterrents to starting a business in Jamaica.

How important is it to give back?

I think it is extremely important. I've commenced a programme that will not only educate the younger generation about solar and wind energy, but cement the importance of conservation. I plan to conduct free in-house seminars that will provide simple, everyday methods of energy conservation. It is very easy to conserve on energy, but we must know how.

Bradlee-Ann Powell

On Returning To Jamaica...

I lived in Chicago for a while. But I always knew I wanted to come back home to help build my country. It is very rewarding to be home and working in my family's business.

Dealing with the competition

There's enough for everyone.

Pressure of owning a business

The onus is on you for the failure or success of a business.

Kibebi Johnston

Why did you decide to stay in Jamaica?

I came back to Jamaica to work with my family. After working for them for about four years, I soon realised that I wanted to branch out. I started my company and though most doubted its success, we've been around for five years and are still going strong.

Dealing with the competition

I think that there is enough room in the economy for businesses to flourish without attempting to tear others down. Competition is not only good for business but it benefits the consumers as well. There are many times when I can't handle all the clients I have at a given time and I recommend them to the competition. No single person can supply all of Jamaica in any one business. Therefore, we should consider the benefits of partnerships as opposed to just wanting the competition to fail.


I am thinking about venturing into politics in the distant future.

Kristina Kerr

Why did you decide to stay in Jamaica?

Like the others, I wanted to help build my country. I lived in New York City for a long time. I got to accomplish everything that I had dreamed of accomplishing while I was there. When I considered the long-term goals I wanted in my life such as starting a family, I knew that I couldn't have accomplished that in New York City. So I decided to come back home.

How important is it to give back?

Businesses should always have the country as its main focus and its people in the heart of everything they do. Jodie (Williams) and I are working on a charity called Reach One More that will ensure that more students in the public school system at the primary level have greater access to textbooks. Our intention is to lessen the burden on parents by introducing a rental system, where the books are recycled to allow all students coming into a specific grade use of the same books that the students before them used. This would afford all students the opportunity to access the necessary texts to work from.

Environmental Sustenance

In the United States and in Europe there are incentives for going green — eg, tax refunds and other incentives that one will receive when they utilise energy-efficient products in their home and


Jodie Williams

Why are you in Jamaica?

Education is my focus, my passion. I never went overseas to study. I want to say 'Hey! I stayed in Jamaica. I studied in Jamaica and I am a success!'

Pressures of owning a business

It would seem as if it was an easy task to open and operate a school. I worked for five years at Building Blocks in several capacities including as an assistant, then a teacher, before I bought it. I took out a loan to acquire Building Blocks and paid it off while operating the school. I've taken out another loan to open Reach Academy. This expansion has taken place ostensibly because I felt the time was right, and again because I know what contributions I want to make in education in Jamaica.

I work extremely hard — fact is, I leave my home three hours each morning before my husband and get home three hours after him daily. I work Saturdays and some Sundays, too, if it is required. Failure is not an option.


I have many more contributions to make to the Jamaican education sector; however, I would rather be a consultant as opposed to a politician.



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