The past three years or so have been difficult for Robert Simpson, the chief executive officer for Jamaican apparel company Top Rock Sports.
His main challenge over the life of the company was to endear local schools to his sports brand.
Driven by the belief that his small but forward-thinking company had a place in the hearts of the Jamaican people, Simpson stayed the course and rowed on to the proverbial promised land — having his gear worn by athletic school teams. So far, five of them are competing in the ongoing Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships.
But the breakthrough came last year when two schools took a chance on Top Rock Sports — Munro College and BBC Coke High. But with such a cool name, Holy Childhood, Bridgeport High, and DeCarteret College could not resist the charm and suited up.
Simpson, speaking with the Jamaica Observer, took particular pride in the quality of the products, boasting that they meet the highest standards and could rivals iconic brands Nike and Puma, for example.
"I have put in a lot of work, so I am really pleased to see more schools purchasing and wearing our gears at the ISSA boys' and girls' championships this year.
"Last year we only had two schools in Munro College and BB Coke, and so to reach five schools now means that I am really satisfied, and I plan to go harder next year because more schools are noticing our brand and they are appreciating our product.
"Manchester High and DeCarteret College, their basketball teams, table tennis teams, and their netball teams are all wearing out branded gears," Simpson noted, with an obvious air of pride.
He said his company was started in his bedroom in Spanish Town in April 2019, but it has grown significantly to the point where he has employed six persons to help knit, weave, and spin fabric into trendy, eye-catching designs.
Not only that, but Top Rock Sports sports gear does not hit hard in the pocket, not like the products from those better-known international companies.
"I am pleased because ... Top Rock products can match those other brands, in terms of quality, [and] currently we have the best prices on the market. I am really pleased that the schools are appreciating our brands and they are supporting us," Simpson said.
"I am [urging] people to support our Jamaican brand because we are making the same product, with the same material [as the big companies], and so I think that I can compete with those brands, and people are appreciating the brand and they are giving us their support," he ended.
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