From bag juice to the big league - Andrea Palmer makes her own way

All Woman

THEY say it's not how you start out, but how you finish that matters. If ever there was an example of this, it would be 48-year-old Andrea Palmer, a self-made businesswoman and mother of four whose hard work and entrepreneurial spirit led her to build a legacy she can be proud of.

As a young woman, Palmer started out selling bag juice and sweet tamarinds throughout the community of Whitehall Avenue in Kingston. From there, she began to operate a stall on Park Lane, off Red Hills Road. People n her community were supportive and she became a popular vendor, gradually expanding her product offerings.

“Using the profit I made from selling at the stall, I was able to build a board structure with the help of my eldest brother who was a construction worker at the time. I started to invest more in my business, offering more products to customers. I would sell flour, rice, tinned products and bag juice. The only thing I did not sell in my shop was meat,” Palmer proudly recalls. Her business continued to grow and she turned the board structure into a concrete one.

Moving into cook shop operations, Palmer started to prepare meals such as barbeque-fried chicken, soup, chicken back, and jerk chicken to attract customers and increase her sales. She was soon able to buy her first motor vehicle and began to seek out new opportunities to explore. After seven years of running her shop, she decided to turn the wheel over to her youngest brother while she executed plans to open a bar.

In short order, 'Di Stump' bar became a vibrant and successful watering hole in the Red Hills Road area.

“Three years on and I have no complaints. Business for me has been going great. I like running a bar because I get to meet and interact with people. I get advice from my customers and I share my advice with them in return as well. I love the relationship I have with them and the management experience I've gained,” Palmer said.

Honed over the course of many years, her skills and entrepreneurial spirit continue to serve her well in the role of bar operator.

Palmer looks back at her journey with satisfaction and gratitude. She is clear that prayer has been important along the way, as she would frequently go down on her knees to talk to God, asking for direction and guidance in managing her business. She often encourages others to work hard to achieve their own goals, no matter their circumstances.

“It is always a good feeling when you can help another entrepreneur, and so I am always open to offer advice to those who are around me. People must always try to do something to help themselves. If I can do it, then you can do it too. You may have a skill — whether you can do nails, hair or designing — but you are not using it and then you wonder why you are not making any money. I encourage everyone to try, and to never depend on anyone. Always be your own boss,” Palmer contends.

So what's next for Palmer?

“I started raising chickens last year. I have been receiving a lot of support from the pan chicken sellers who purchase from me. Now, I am working on expanding my farm,” she proudly shared.

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