VIDEO: Shara-Lee Parsley's RebirthSunday, July 04, 2021
BY CANDICE HAUGHTON
TWENTY-SIX-YEAR-OLD businesswoman Shara-Lee Parsley is encouraging women who are looking to start businesses to do so, despite the hardships they might encounter. Parsley, who is the owner of Rebirth Health and Wellness, said it is more common in Jamaica for men to own businesses, but it is important for women to have their own financial independence.
Rebirth Health and Wellness, established in May 2019, stocks feminine products — from feminine wash to skin care — as well as fitness gear.
“It can be hard for women starting businesses in Jamaica. I know the Jamaican culture gives more privilege to men in business because that's more common,” she said.
“But as a woman I believe it's very important to create that kind of financial independence. Along with building character and grit, knowing what it feels like to be self-sufficient is good,” Parsley stated.
She explained that while studying for her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism at The University of the West Indies, she had the opportunity to participate in the United States (US) Work and Travel Programme, and it was there that she had the brilliant idea to start her own business.
“I felt terribly homesick spending months away from my family. So, a great friend who I met while in the US helped me to channel what could have been depression into fitness... I worked out any chance I got, changed my diet, and focused more on valuable nutrition, along with products that were geared towards my health — feminine health,” she recalled.
“When I came back to Jamaica I knew I wanted to do something to help others but wasn't quite sure at that moment what it was. But I began by first retailing for a US brand of natural feminine care products. And that's when the lightbulb turned on. I was already doing the exact thing while away and Jamaica certainly had a market for women who wanted organic or natural feminine care products.”
Parsley said she decided to dedicate her business to supplying products proven through experience to an all-woman clientèle. According to Parsley, “Rebirth”, as the name suggests, was her coming into being as not only a person, but as a woman, and it became her way of helping other women as it helped her.
Parsley, who said it was very challenging for her when she established her business, said her ultimate goal is to impact as many lives as possible whether through her products, by encouraging an active healthy lifestyle, or by sharing her insights on how to build a sustainable brand in Jamaica.
“It was quite challenging when I first began, especially establishing the business legally. Difficulties came from cementing the business, its purpose and name at the Companies Office, to creating the avenue towards filing taxes and opening business accounts to show records of funds and usage of monies. What made each of these an issue for me is that you really couldn't have one without the other at the time, which resulted in a lot of back and forth, long lines and constant nos,” the businesswoman said, recalling the challenges she faced when she started Rebirth Health and Wellness.
Adding that her vision for the business, along with her support system, is what gets her through difficult days, Parsley noted that, “my business is like my child; literally that's how I acknowledge it. It's my responsibility to nurture it until it can someday nurture me, kinda like a parent/child relationship. I want to be able to make Rebirth Health and Wellness into a renowned brand locally.”
She said she is working towards getting brand recognition worldwide, as she continues to empower women who may feel the need to hide what comes to them naturally.
In addition, Parsley advised those who wish to start a business that they should do the necessary research, as this is one of the most important steps.
“I can't stress this enough — research. Take time to nurture your idea by digging deep into it. See where you can profit, see where you can make a difference, and see what problem you can solve for others. Once you've done that, look into ways for funding and marketing that idea by becoming a part of agencies like the Social Development Commission,” she said.
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