Dexterous Dave Barrett displays craftsmanship in belt making
In 2016 he founded Dave’s Craft Enterprises, a home-based operation through which the St Catherine native produces leather belts — a skill he learned while studying leather craft at Jonathan Grant High School.
Barrett credits his move into entrepreneurship to two benefactors: a church sister who reminded him of his dexterity in making leather belts, and an unnamed financier who provided him with the initial capital to purchase tools and raw materials in the form of a loan.
“After so many years in and out of a job my church sister said to me, ‘Dave, why don’t you make some leather belts and sell?’ That’s when I really decided to buy the leather material and make and sell belts,” he told Jamaica Observer.
Over $100,000 was invested in Barrett’s business. Since then he has recouped the funds and repaid the loan he received for the start-up.
Putting his skills to the test, Barrett decided to make a belt for himself, one he wears to this day and which he uses to market his business. After much trial and error cutting the leather the businessman found his groove and made a variety of belts — ranging from half inch to two inches — in black, dark brown and tan. He also customises products as per order.
When not making belts the entrepreneur spends his productive hours on the streets of Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine, and in May Pen, Clarendon selling his belts to all he encounters
“I target everyone. I make belts for boys, girls, men, women, old, young, middle-aged, middle-income and working class,” he explained, adding that he aims to make every customer feel comfortable enough to buy more than one product, or return for a purchase.
Barrett also receives a lot of support from his church family who patronises his business and refers new customers to him.
Asked about his competitive advantage, Barrett said, “My belts are affordable, and if someone cannot afford it I try to give them a discount. The quality is also good and they can serve you up to 10 years.”
He also delivers belts locally and sends belts overseas, when requested.
Barrett plans to diversify his business by making bags, purses and wallets, having been asked on numerous occasions about these offerings. However, those plans are suspended until his enrolment and completion of a leather crafting course offered by the HEART/NSTA Trust.
He further noted that the requests for other products may be due to the quality of the belts he produces.
The solopreneneur is looking for opportunities to scale the business, working with local business support networks to promote his brand. However, though he was offered an opportunity to participate in a Small Business Development Centre expo, he said the cost to do so was prohibitive.
Nevertheless, Barrett holds onto his faith in God, determined to remain resilient while always living out the scripture, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”