â€œArt is personal but I love to share my knowledge.â€?
“I used to paint the walls of my mother’s house ...”
“Me’s just a likkle mawga Hopeton Powell
FASHION AND FASHION ACCESSORIES
“People just want to push elastics through beads. I had to do something else.”
“I won’t have anybody do it better than me. I am the star of my show!” Coreen Lewis
“And she put my handbag beside the Michael Kors and all those pieces.”
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy yarn…
“At first me nearly buss mi finger!”
“I love doing this. I got bored with other things, but not this.”
“My pieces represent the Rasta community.”
“Mom gave us this whole craft idea, so we all have our one specialty.”
“Craft is the biggest export in Jamaica!” Sandra Dunbar
“They call me Sea Rasta.” Keith Miller
“I just see the crochet pieces and love them.”
HOME DÉCOR AND HOME ACCENTS
Montego Bay Craft Market
“When you see people love it, you want to continue doing it.”
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“Next ting mi wah make is a Usain Bolt!” Wane Morrison / Koola
“People buy and sell their pieces. I create mine from scratch.”
“I don’t get to sell at places where everyone else can.”
“Can you imagine, it draw crowd!” Elvis Warren
“Mi wah be the next Bob Marley.”
“It feels like we’re fighting a losing battle. I’m looking forward to a fair fight.” Baldwin Dulston
“I don’t like school, but I am into learning.” Michael Senior
“Nobody don’t pay me, I pay myself.” Norman Thoms
Publisher - Jamaica Business Development Corporation Producer - eMedia Interactive Limited Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director - Zinzi Samuels Photography Director - Oneil Banton Art Director & Layout Artist - Oneil Banton Contributing Photographer - O’Raine Thomas Project Coordinator - Jeneque Pinnock Model - Sashuki Johnson Contributing Writer - Alyson Robinson
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Lifestyle to you, heirloom for some, Art to All. The beauty behind what goes into creating a product, as well as the emotional response it conjures from the recipient. It is found that throughout the whole lifetime of an artisan’s work,there is a meaningful story behind its “why”, “how” and “when”. This gives the product further life beyond just another product on a local shelf. Please join us as we take you through “True Stories” revealing what makes Jamaicans pride themselves in the land of wood and water, that untouchable thing that art lovers want to hold on to.
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Preface It is said that a picture tells a story of a thousand words. This catalogue is about telling the rich stories of the products of our local producers in the Gift and Craft sector. There are stories of the traditions of reaping and processing of raw material that makes each piece the cradle of a part of Jamaican history. The producers include the young, who are the beneficiaries of skills passed down through generations, who have accepted the awesome responsibility of ‘caregiver and nurturers’ of our culture. Those who through their experimentation and adventure with technology, have combined the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ and have introduced innovative and exciting product lines. There is of course, that special group, the Master Craftsmen, who continue to inspire with their product collection, with each having its own script to tell a tale. These individuals form the essence of the North Coast Craft Revitalization Project (NCCRP), a collaborative effort between the JBDC and the Tourism Enhancement Fund. The Project was aimed at improving the competitiveness and income generating capabilities of craft producers in the North Coast Region of the island, specifically in the parishes of St. Ann, St. James and Trelawny. The project,
“They have an interesting and impressive story to share and they are open for business.”
implemented over two years was managed by the Project Management and Research Development Department of the JBDC. Implementation of Project activities was led by Technical Services and Business Advisory Services, while Things Jamaican provided support in Product Development and also led the implementation of market access activities. ‘True Stories’ represents a bold statement by the producers that they have an interesting and impressive story to share and they are open for business. Through our intervention, the hope is that both the Producers and the buyers will benefit from the encounter. Valerie Veira, J.P.
CEO, Jamaica Business Development Corporation
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HON. ANTHONY HYLTON
MINISTER OF INDUSTRY, INVESTMENT AND COMMERCE
I am pleased, within this context, to be associated with the publication of â€˜True Storiesâ€™. I also take the opportunity to commend the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, its subsidiary Things Jamaican, and the Tourism Enhancement Fund for spearheading the North Coast Revitalization Projectartisans and craftsmen from which are featured in this magazine. I had the good fortune of meeting with some of these artisans and craftsmen at the last staging of the JBDC Small Business Expo in May. Through that interaction, I was able to understand first-hand the impact of this project on the lives of the people involved in the parishes of St. Ann, St. James and Trelawny. Many told of the sense of hope they felt because of the project, having previously looked towards an uncertain economic future. The importance of entrepreneurship as a tool for
The challenge going forward, now that the project has
economic development and wealth creation cannot
ended, is for the continuous capacity building and
be overemphasized. In an environment where
encouragement of these entrepreneurs in this ever-
business development initiatives are key to helping
changing global market. This publication is a good
entrepreneurs unlock their potential, the North Coast
start in increasing promotion and market access for
Craft Revitalization Project (NCCRP) is making an
products developed during the project, whilst giving our
entrepreneurs a sense of accomplishment but more
As a project, it has brought into sharp focus the
must be done.
importance of improving the competitiveness and
In this regard, the strategy of the Government has
income generating capabilities of craft producers
remained consistently supportive of the micro, small
in the North Coast Region of the island. With the
and medium sized enterprise sector through policy
craft industry evolving beyond sale to tourists, but to
initiatives such as the MSME and Entrepreneurship
supplying a global market through exports, it is critical
Policy, which provides a roadmap to assist in the further
that our craft vendors are equipped with the relevant
development of entrepreneurship in Jamaica. Indeed,
skills to compete.
the recent consolidation of the boards of the Jamaica
6 | True Stories
Business Development Corporation, The Self Start Fund and the Micro Investment Development Agency will enhance the provision of capacity building services for entrepreneurs- from concept to market- played a critical role in the fulfillment if this mandate. Again, let me commend the artisans and craftsmen featured in this publication. I have every confidence that it will go a far way in increasing the appreciation of the craft industry. Best wishes for the future.
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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TOURISM ENHANCEMENT FUND
Craft Policy, Authentic Jamaica Design competition through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office that saw a 413% increase in 2013 over 2012 design applications. The TEF also co-sponsored the Organisation of American States’ FEMCIDI craft project that focuses on developing and strengthening product quality and increasing promotion and market access for craft producers. Capacity building within the craft sector continues to be paramount as is encouraging product diversity, sustainable harvesting of raw materials and the use of recyclables. The sector continues to require significant investment to meet international best The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) understands
practice standards, but with targeted
the importance of the craft sector to our country’s
partnerships between the related
development, as a nation’s handicraft reflects the
agencies and international donors,
culture and time-honoured traditions of creating
these challenges can be overcome.
such craft. The Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism Development (2002) addresses the need for the sector’s inclusive and managed development and this is evident in tourism’s commitment to working to build authentic craft products and develop artisanal skills within the handicraft sector. With these objectives in mind, the TEF has partnered with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation to execute the North Coast Craft Revitalization Project to improve the competitiveness and income generating capabilities of craft producers in and around the North Coast Tourism Corridor. The North Coast Craft Revitalization Project is but one of the interventions supported by the TEF, as the Fund has supported the development of the National 8 | True Stories
Authentic Jamaica Design competition through the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office saw a 413% increase in 2013 over 2012 design applications.
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Growing Craft in Jamaica
LAURA LEE JONES
Physical context: importance of craft activity to the local physical environment. Institutional context: importance of craft activity to access key institutions, cultivating key institutional relationships. (Eversole, 2008) In growing craft in Jamaica, we must seek to take into consideration these contexts as outlined above. Moreover, we must seek to build on models of the past in an effort to strengthen the future of craft. There should be greater synergy within schools specifically what is factored in curricula as it pertains to art and craft (not only as a past time activity) but as an area for serious entrepreneurial possibilities. Within our visual arts institution, upcoming artists and designers Craft production is more than a hobby for the many
must see craft as a point of reference for improving
producers and artisans that exist in Jamaica. Craft is
product offerings within the sector. Other tertiary
serious business whether home-based or otherwise.
institutions must continue research and documentation
It contributes not only to the economic base of the
on various aspects of craft, craft production and its
country but plays a vital role socially, culturally and
impact on the society. Support institutions must see the
synergies and linkages and the value of supporting craft
Highlighting some key values as it relates to craft, I quote from Dr. Robyn Eversole (Institute for Regional Development, University of Tasmania) in an article she prepared for Craft News Vol. 18:68, 2008 (a publication of CHF International). This article put crafts in context to understanding the opportunities and obstacles for producers. Economic context: importance of craft activity as a source of income for individuals, households, communities. Social context: importance of craft activity as a source of social benefit. Cultural context: importance of craft activity contributing to meaning, values, identity.
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development. Consumers must buy into the concept of supporting local craft. Artisans and producers must improve their businesses and deliver products that do not compromise the integrity of local crafts in general. There should be a concerted effort to protect and secure local resources used in craft production…and the list can extend even further. Craft is big business in other parts of the world and is not divorced of some of the challenges faced in Jamaica; however, there is still much work to be done as it relates to growing the sector.
â€œCraft is big business in other parts of the world...â€?
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“I used to paint the walls of my mother’s house ...” DENESHA WRIGHT
Lush greenery, and picturesque sea views envelope the quiet environs of Tower Isle, St. Ann. Tucked away in this artist’s paradise is a visually stimulating place called D’s World of Art. The creator of this wonderful world is Denesha Wright, an artist who perfectly combines being a “people-lover” with her innate behavioural display of introversion. Denesha, a self-taught artist who specializes in custom handmade postcards, murals, banners, matted prints and paintings, is also a trained nurse. Art has been her true love from a very young age. “I used to paint the walls and my mother would scold me, then she realized I really liked art.” When inspiration hits, Denesha obeys the call and puts paintbrush to canvas to paint her next masterpiece. Her knack for portraying things she’s seen on a surface has led her to fall in love with nature; it is her primary inspiration.
“I like to create what I see around me.”
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Denesha sees absolute beauty in nature; the trees, the flowers, it’s not hard to see just why Tower Isle hosts her home studio and workspace. Contrary to her nature-girl inclinations, Denesha’s first piece was actually a portrait. That led her to her most interesting piece, a set of murals that included both portraits and elements of nature at a school. Her matted pieces are also dear to her as she devotes quite a bit of effort into them. After stretchers are built, Denesha stretches the canvas herself. After, she mixes the paint with glue so it adheres well to the canvas, she primes and sands the surface, then primes it again, allows it to dry, then she starts her piece. This is her way of taking control of the quality of her work. When she isn’t painting, Denesha teaches classes to kids and the elderly. Her ultimate goal and vision, however, is to have her own art gallery to put other artists work on display. Love, detail and art fused into one being, that’s Denesha. True Story.
“Art is personal but I love to share my knowledge.” True Stories | 15
“Me’s just a likkle mawga man.” HOPETON POWELL
“Artist a some crazy people.” The self-taught and self proclaimed “African-Jamaican” artist, Hopeton Powell hails from the picturesque Ocho Rios. The man himself is laidback, humourous and his personality filters into his paintings and drawings. The veteran shares that he does everything from abstract pieces to custom artwork for his clients. As a young child, Powell found his love for his talent, but he never made a business from it until later as a young man. He shares that there were simpler days, where whatever he drew or painted he
The Olde Market Craft Association is the organization
would gift to friends. The love people had for his work
Hopeton is aligned with. He acknowledges that in
some countries, other talented persons don’t have
Hopeton’s talent also happens to be his favourite form of therapy. Painting and drawing helps him to de-stress from an imperfect world. He describes art as a puzzle; freeing, but filled with dimension because
these opportunities, as he lauded the JBDC for their consistent assistance to artisans like himself. However, marketing and further exposure of his industry is needed.
what someone may see at first glance is not what
Hopeton’s goal in life is to see his work appreciated and
they see as time goes on. This is what Powell calls
sold globally, and to see more persons develop their
the “communication of artistry” and what appeals
artistic talents. True Story.
to his customers so greatly. True art appeals to each customer’s nature when they walk away with a purchase. His best analogy for this is, “When yuh see something you like and is like yow mi nah lef’ dis – Is something mi a look fa from long time”. Hopeton’s customers don’t just buy only what appeals to him, he also makes pieces inspired from what others like. This ensures the profitability of his business.
“Me have high hopes, ‘cause mi name Hopeton, understand?” True Stories | 17
Located in the Garden parish of St. Ann, this humble and terraced Craft Market is perched along the hillside of Pineapple Place. Established in the late 1980â€™s by the Urban Development Corporation with an initial 152 shops, this market is filled with a basket of products, from knitted baby clothes to six foot high wooden sculptures. This market, like many others, has an active association which represents their membership in a vibrant and dynamic way. Consequently they have patronage from cruise visitors, as well as from the hotels in the region. The traders and artisans from this market also have a robust rotation system with the hotels which enables them to have a wider reach with their products.
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FASHION AND FASHION ACCESSORIES
“People just want to push elastics through beads. I had to do something else.” SHERONE MCDONALD
In the midst of a spread of wooden, beaded and precious stoned jewellery, sits Sherone McDonald and her mix of plastic bottles and buttons. Yes, you read correctly, plastic bottles. However, don’t let that deter your interest, Sherone’s handmade pieces are
“You have to be unique to stand out.”
not your ordinary, run of the mill jewelry line. They require a lot of time and patience to be transformed from recycle bin worthy, to fashion statement. Sherone uses a blow dryer, hot water, candles or anything with heat to melt the plastic bottles and buttons to a state of pliability. That way it’s quite easy to make and mold anything desired. In the beginning Sherone moved from St. Elizabeth to Montego Bay. Another craft vendor showed her how to make the beaded jewellery in the year 2004. Then after she decided that she needed to really stand out. So two years ago, Sherone started making her button and plastic bottle collection.
“If I had the cash I would patent my idea.”
When she presented her first piece to the public, she was really nervous about the reception it would get from customers. To her surprise, that piece sold almost immediately. That was really exciting for her. Ever since, Sherone has just been going with the flow; whatever she thinks of, she’ll make. Now she makes statement pieces, simple pieces, just about everything. Sherone hasn’t seen anyone else making plastic bottles or buttons, so she would be fine teaching others about her craft, but she knows that the craft business nowadays is focused on quick money making, while her pieces require patience. Sherone sells to tourists primarily, but has noticed that Kingstonians support her art more than her own Montegonians. Her other cause for concern is what she describes as “too much competition with indian stores that aren’t selling genuine Jamaican art.” Sherone, the bottle queen reveres her craft and believes in its longevity. True Story.
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“I love doing this. I got bored with other things, but not this.” VICTOR WALLACE
“I feel so proud when people say Victor, you did a good job.”
While venturing into the homely community of
craft making lifestyle. He found being a lifeguard
Exchange, ask anyone for Victor Wallace and you’ll
to be a boring job, so he started carving black coral
be given Jamaican style directions to the little
to make jewellery. He used black cow horns, then
workshop ‘down the road’. A bit of a drive on a
used the points to make earrings, necklaces and
narrow road leads you straight to the two-roomed
bracelets. Then he started using conch shells, black
concrete structure, permeated with a distinct sea
coral and mother of pearl shells to make key chains
shell scent. Coated in white shell dust, stands Victor
cufflinks, belts and pipes which are a little more
in his jumpsuit-styled work mode.
difficult to do. It then became illegal to use black
Starting as a spearfisher, then becoming a lifeguard
coral, so that has since ceased.
at 18 years old prompted Victor to head into his
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While doing his lifeguard job at Turtle Beach Towers in the 70s, a woman saw him wearing one of his pieces and requested one for her son. Little did Victor know, this was his beginning in a lifelong business. Opportunities and orders then came from Sandals Resort, a store called Step Inside and Things Jamaican.
â€œI used to use my hands to do it, so I told them I didnâ€™t have the tools to do that big order, so they gave me a letter to go to the embassy for a visa,â€? said Victor. He was granted that visa and travelled to the States and bought the necessary tools.
24 | True Stories
Victor, no longer the bored lifeguard sees his business growing as far as possible. “I change up my pieces and designs all the time. None of my designs are made for more than 2-3 years,” said Victor. “I still have some original pieces, but most designs are retired to make way for new designs,” he said. There’s an immense sense of freedom that Victor gains from his craft making, and that has helped him to never get bored with it. Through his craft, Victor can design anything he desires. True story. True Stories | 25
“I won’t have anybody do it better than me. I am the star of my show!” COREEN LEWIS
Pristine foreign-esque surroundings and vibrant reggae tunes of the Falmouth Pier are no match for the bubbly, witty character that is 53 year old Coreen Lewis. Tourists are undoubtably drawn to her stall for more than her beadwork and jewellery. The self-described fun-loving, down-to-earth jewellery maker, creates bracelets, necklaces, anklets and earrings and sells them on the Falmouth Pier. Her materials include turquoise stone and hypatite from overseas and bamboo, wood, shark teeth and leather sourced locally.
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“I am not a copycat.”
Coreen’s pieces are made with the young, fashion-loving girls in mind. Her most extravagant pieces are made with turquoise stone. She creates these beautiful pieces alongside her husband, who introduced her to the craft in 2004. She built upon his technique to create the ‘Coreen touch’. Her children have also joined in the fun by helping her with colour combinations, and she treasures those interactions as they provide a way for her to bond with her offspring. She, however, is adamant that she won’t involve other family members as she is not one for the laziness.
“I don’t have a foreign mind.”
Coreen, a Highway Project member, is confident in her talent and looks to no other designer for inspiration. She also maintains that she wouldn’t consider selling her designs for others to take credit for them. Coreen, though comfortable with her age, knows her limitations in finding employment, and so she is very protective of her product. She is also happy that she is able to support herself and her family. Coreen believes that as long as she can physically do her own craft, she’s going to continue doing it in Jamaica. True Story.
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“My pieces represent the Rasta community.” ISHAWANA TAFARA
It is said that a tree with strong roots laughs at the storm. Ishawana Tafara, the â€œcrochet empress,â€? is the very embodiment of that sentiment. With a combination of a distinct love for crocheting and her homeland, Jamaica, Isha withstands the storms that comes with being a craft maker and vendor in Jamaica. A Wakefield, Trelawny resident, Isha makes her Jamaican inspired crochet pieces and sells them at the Falmouth Pier. She specializes in red, green and gold, Jamaican flag coloured, very afrocentric detailed crochet hats and bags. Though she typically stays true to the cultural style, Isha will complete a custom piece if the customer requests it. True Stories | 31
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“I’ve done other professions, but I always come back to my craft.” Isha began her crochet career around age seven when a woman came to live with her family. Though not a typical seven year old’s activity, Isha grasped onto her new found love and never let go. Now her client list extends to the JBDC, Sandals Resorts, islandwide trade fairs like Kumba Mi Yabba, and overseas clients. She plans to continue crocheting for the rest of her life. In an effort to pass on her talent, she has employed young persons as apprentices and also gets her son involved in the business. Isha speaks positively about the future of her business, but in the same breath wishes that the thread variety would increase in Jamaica. She hopes for more cotton, silk and metallic based threads. She is, therefore, taking steps to creating her own craft association to help others like herself. With her love for crochet, Isha explores her talent, gifts people with the red, green and gold and spreads culture she loves. True Story.
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“And she put my handbag beside the Michael Kors and all those pieces.” CHERYL WHYTEHEAD 34 | True Stories
“If we believe that we’re going to have things our way all the time, then we’re not ready.”
Cheryl Whytehead is a leather crafter of keychains, sandals, handbags and other accessories, but she stands out. After visiting the USA, she shares that a Macy’s employee once asked where she got her bag from. When she told her that she made it, the employee immediately placed it beside top tier American brands and told Cheryl that her handbag stood out. “I was grown in craft,” is what Cheryl emphatically states when asked why this is her passion. She recounts being a child selling shells at the sea with her mother. It proved to be the way that she supported herself through formal schooling. When Cheryl got the opportunity to sell her goods at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston, she knew there was more destined for her business. She had to be unique. She shares that it was a good feeling to know that she had created a product that had taken to the market so well. Cheryl dedicates much time to creating her pieces, but she shares it is important to respect her family time. Their support is pivotal and it is encouraging to see her family, especially her mom and sister (Andrea), her community (Cooper’s Pen) and peers being so supportive of her business. Even though Cheryl’s story is successful, she wants to pass down the blessings. She suggests that fewer imports from other countries would provide more business and less competition for local artisans such as herself. She has been able to reap the benefit of a great support team and plans to teach interested members
“And people love my pieces so much, I decide I want to take it to the whole world.”
from her community the leather crafting trade. Most of all, Cheryl sees her business as a way to bless others and does in several ways. One way in particular is by assisting financially with a close friend who has a terminal illness. True Story.
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“Mom gave us this whole craft idea, so we all have our one specialty.” ANDREA REID
For a perfect mixture of sophisticated formal Jewellery and Jamaican-style charisma, visit Andrea Reid, the other half of the crafty sister pair at the Falmouth Pier. Youâ€™ll be sure to find a jovial, very helpful Andrea ready to show off her displayed natural stone jewellery. She loves making her jewellery and takes great pride in her products by using the highest quality, genuine natural stones like fresh water pearl, amethyst, red coral, jade and imported turquoise.
True Stories | 37
“Other people use plastic, I use natural stones. They’re better.” Her mother, who also sells at the pier taught her and her sister, Cheryl, the skills they’ve come to love. Inspired by things she’s seen, Andrea is influenced by high fashion jewellery designers, but makes it her own. Her loveliest piece, according to her and quick sales figures, is her red coral statement necklace.
She went on to say how it garners quite a bit of attention and it really requires a lengthy assembly process and it’s expensive to get the stones, but worth it. There’s a certain sophistication to using genuine stones, a certain elegance that sets her apart from the rest. Andrea’s designs generally require a bit of patience and style because of their intricate detail. So though her husband tries to help, she does most of the jewellery making. The chunky designs came about because of a client who requested a statement piece. This has remained her go-to style since. Andrea’s 10 year old daughter has also tried her hand at the skill and is, so far, able to make little bracelets. 38 | True Stories
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40 | True Stories
“The red coral necklace is my wow piece.”
Andrea, like her sister, likes being a vendor on the pier and wants more tourists, who are willing to spend, of course. She actually has seen where more locals support the business than tourists. To gain more sales, Andrea ventures out to Jazz & Blues Festival stagings, Kumba Mi Yabba, Market on the Lawn and Calabash. With elegant jewellery and an extensive résumé of places she’s exhibited her items, Andrea’s 10 year career is far from over. In a family of crafty people, Andrea has found her niche. True Story. True Stories | 41
Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly buy yarn… LANA WALTERS
“Craft is forever.”
That’s practically the same thing in the eyes of Lana Walters. Lana, a quiet elderly woman, loves to crochet hats and bags and identifies herself only with her love of crocheting, with the exception of her love for Jesus, of course. Her Christianity is quite important in her life too. When Lana isn’t at church or selling her pieces in the Pineapple Market, she can be found humming while crocheting her next piece. Sometimes Lana dabbles in a bit of straw work, but crocheting is her passion. Lana’s love for crocheting started at 16 years old, when her grandmother showed her how to make her first crochet chain. Her first complete item was a hat that she felt extremely satisfied with. She felt even more excited when she made her first sale. That was about 25-30 years ago. Until this day, Lana maintains the same passion that she started with as a young girl and is known as the lady to go to for crocheting that looks so neat, it’s mistaken for knitting. She is now such a pro at it that she has no need to put pen to paper to come up with her designs for her bags and hats. Despite not having children of her own, Lana has begun teaching her stepgranddaughter to start her own crochet chain, as that is the first step to grasping the skill. Lana’s ultimate dream is to continue selling at Pineapple Market, with opportunities to sell her items in hotels. Lana knows that so many are missing out on her fine crocheting skills because of lack of access. Lana loves to sell to tourists as they have a real appreciation for the black, green and gold. For Lana, quietly crocheting and praising Jesus is truly the life. True Story. True Stories | 43
“Craft is the biggest export in Jamaica!” SANDRA DUNBAR
“No hand to mouth thing.” Sandra Dunbar is a meticulous woman with many hats and a distinct passion for craft. She’s a single mother, hotel craft coordinator, church member, elderly programme coordinator and artisan. Even with a mouthful of titles, Sandra is nowhere near ready to hang up any of those hats, despite the coaxing of her son. As an artisan, Sandra makes amethyst, turquoise and tiger eye stone and beaded necklaces, bracelets, anklets, earrings. Her main focus, however, is her collection of leather sandals, clutch purses and belts. Sandra recalls her first time getting into the craft. Over 19 years ago, while trying to use the machine to sew, she would go off track and get frustrated. Her first leather sandals then ended up as all left feet sandals and she got so upset with herself that she threw them outside. Sandra told her story with a chuckle as she remembered that it was her
“I started learning craft while working in my brother’s shop.”
mother who picked them up and consoled her. Over the years, Sandra has been coordinating craft at RIU Hotel and most recently, Sandals Resorts. For while in her career, she made and sold sandals, but she took a break to work. Nowadays, work has slowed down some and she now has the time to make more pieces. She is currently trying to find a suitable location to make and sell her pieces. Her greatest wish would be to see people enhance their craft. Sandra wants to lift the standard of craft. “People look down on it, but they shouldn’t, it’s a part of our culture,” she said. “People don’t want to be labelled craft, there’s a stigma there,” she added. She believes however that this idea can be shifted once people start increasing their standard. “You have to make yourself different, your standard should be high, but for everybody else it’s for making a dollar.” Sandra sees a future where she’ll have her own factory to produce more sandals, all while fixing the image of craft in Jamaica. True Story. True Stories | 45
“At first me nearly buss mi finger!” ANDREA CROOKS
Andrea is a proud
“Coconut shell a weh people throw inna garbage.”
mother of three, all while creating hand painted magnets, keyrings, crochet pieces and coconut jewellery. Unlike some of her peers, Andrea says her talent is a family affair as both her mother and father used their creativity in the craft industry as well. Andrea also shares that after travelling around to different hotels, she realized she had to be unique in her creations. Andrea’s most popular products are keyrings and coconut jewellery, but the star of all is her jewellery. She uses food colouring, beads and other crafty items to create beautiful jewellery made from discarded coconut shells. Her most regular customers are visiting tourists who rave about their beauty. Though Andrea has inherited a family tradition, it wasn’t always easy. She shares that she burned out many drills while learning how to cut the coconuts to be suitable for jewellery. It was a task but now as an accomplished artisan, her creativity shines through each piece created, from their colour to their detail. Andrea, just like many other artisans, wishes for more support for the “small people” in the industry, who may not have the backings of a large affiliate. Greater access
“I can’t stop. It’s my livelihood and I love it.”
to financial resources will also help garner employment through labour opportunities. One man’s trash is the coconut restoration expert’s treasure. True Story.
True Stories | 47
“They call me Sea Rasta.” KEITH MILLER
If you drive by too quickly you’ll miss it. Just off the highway in St. Ann, lays a seemingly unkempt and hidden creative space. Centered in the chaos of rampant flora and fauna, artisan Keith Miller’s indigenous art has its base, atop an unfinished one room he calls home. Dolomite and shells are the foundation of his work, although the unpleasant stench of the rotting “meat” from the shells masks the true possibilities that lie in this hidden treasure of St. Ann.
A former Rastafarian diver and fisherman from in the 1970s, black coral was Keith’s primary supplier prior to government’s ban on it. He would also dive for fish, selling to neighbours and as a provision of food for his children and grandchildren. ‘General Echo’ to which he is sometimes referred, still actively dives today for the sea shells or “Williks” that he uses. Trained by the Tourist Board in wildlife protection, “Sea Rasta” is most careful with his handling and full use of his sea-based material. Keith maintains his inspiration from the beauty in the materials he uses and the historical story of shell bead trading during the time of Christopher Columbus. “The colours are looking good” he says, beaming with utmost pride at his jewellery creation for the “Gods and Goddesses” who purchase. ‘Sea Rasta’ tells of how he started with the painstaking task of making his own makeshift grinder, to now moving to more technologically advanced machinery to further his craft. Leaving legacies Naturally akin to nature, Keith sees his work as “creation jewels”. A real Caribbean tradition, this process was first introduced to him by a Cuban friend, allowing him to recognize the importance of shared culture. Although he lives apart from his family, Keith wishes to pass on this
“My customers are gods and goddesses.”
tradition of jewellery making to his children or anyone interested in learning. Keith Miller is an entrepreneur with great artistic insight, which will add to the existing eclectic landscape of Jamaican Art. True Story.
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“I just see the crochet pieces and love them.” VEVENE MORRISON
There are two types of people in this world, the
“We need more tourists or we can’t see a future.”
bold and the bashful and Vevene Morrison, an artisan in the Pineapple Market, has taken a bite of both pies. Luckily for Vevene, one who can sit quietly to create a masterpiece and still turn on the charisma to charm customers’ currency out of their pockets, craft is one of those things that she holds in high esteem. Vevene, though reluctant to speak about herself, described her character as genuine and hardworking. She is actually a crocheting expert and she creates her tams, bags and other crochet products to appease the tourists who patronize her business. As a self-taught artisan, Vevene is able to just take one look at a design and replicate it with incredible accuracy. She has over 20 years of experience in the industry and has been a vendor in the Pineapple Market for that many years. Her love affair with crocheting started at 16 years old and she recalls being so proud of herself after completing her very first piece. Vevene has been able to pass on her talent to her two daughters. They have, however, decided to go in other directions for their careers. Though Vevene claims no superiority over her fellow artisans, her hats and bags certainly speak well enough for themselves, even amidst the severe lack of customers lately at the market. She is however happy that her stall is at the front of the market so she gets the customers first look. Though Vevene sees a future with some hope for business picking up, she isn’t oblivious to the hurdles that come with staying afloat in the craft industry in Jamaica. Vevene, the reserved crocheting people-person, sees bright skies beyond the clouds. True Story.
“From I was a teen I was in the business, this is my living.” True Stories | 51
Here, Ship Day is “The Day”. This town of Western Hemisphere historical interest is majestically anchored by the Falmouth Pier, where some of Jamaica’s finest craft vendors parade their handicraft to beauty seekers emerging from cruise ships and from its town. She welcomed her first ship on February 17, 2011, but officially opened on March 22, 2011. This sea fare craft market houses approximately 64 craft vendors and producers with a boastful annual visitor arrival of up to 769,379 passengers.
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HOME DÉCOR AND HOME ACCENTS
“When you see people love it, you want to continue doing it.” DELROY MCKOY
Self-assured is the best word to describe Delroy McKoy. An avid reader, the fifteen year long artisan veteran, sits diligently at his St. Ann location as he harnesses vinyl leather, kaleidoscopic beads and other materials
“I am just creative naturally.”
to make handbags, leather belts, wallets and keychains. McKoy started his journey into leather craft from his days as a youth at the Brownstown Secondary School in St. Ann. Ms. Haywood, the teacher he lauds for his training encouraged him to hone his creativity. His first piece was a simple bracelet, but it began the path to bigger and better things. After a brief stint in the corporate workforce, he realized that was not for him. So, Delroy invested in his talents and started his own business as a craftsman. Delroy never sold that bracelet and it reminds him daily where his passion began. His most popular pieces are his keychains and coin purses. His customers span island-wide, from retailers in the craft market to the gift shops. They describe them as
extravagant and highly creative. “I always put my all in whatever I’m doing, so it’s more challenging for someone to compete with me,” he said. As he passes on his gift to his son along with his fellow co-workers, Delroy shares his vision that in the next two years, he’s going global with his business. It’s fulfilling to see his crafts loved so greatly by his customers. He shares that the industry could benefit from more access to tools to improve the quality of production, thereby increasing global appeal. With his natural talent and vision, Leroy is ready to leap onto the big stage. True Story. True Stories | 55
“Next ting mi wah make is a Usain Bolt!” WANE MORRISON / KOOLA
“In my early days, most of us as youths had to learn a trade. I never liked to fixed things, so I made things instead.” Meet ‘Cooler’ or ‘Koola’ the man with a passion for woodwork. Wane Morrison, as he is formally known, is an artisan at the Falmouth Pier. Amidst a bevy of crochet, leather craft and jewellery stalls, you will find Koola, a slim, tall, dreadheaded older gentleman, sitting at his stall amongst his Bob Marley statues that have an uncanny resemblance to their creator. Beside a range of small to large Marleys, there is a zoo of wooden animals that include parrots and giraffes. Koola prefers to mix things up a bit by making pieces dissimilar to those of other vendors around him. Coola makes crochet products on the side, like the stylish white shoes that he sported. This is done while selling, just to pass
Koola’s advantage in this business is his
the time. His true love, however, lies with woodwork and so he
theoretical knowledge of the business, not
plans to continue being a craft maker for the rest of his days.
just his actual talent. Looking forward, Coola
This passion started as young as age nine; this was when he
just wants to continue making new interesting
decided that mechanics and fixing broken things just wasn’t his
pieces and to get his son involved in carving.
thing. In school, a woodwork class was being taught and Koola
Though sales sometimes slows down and tools
excelled and made his way to the top of his class. His first item
are hard to come by, Koola is looking forward to
made was a replica of a white bird with a long neck. Making that
bigger and better. True Story.
piece brought him so much joy that he went on to sell items he made, like afro combs, to teachers at school. True Stories | 57
“People buy and sell their pieces. I create mine from scratch.” MICHAEL NASH
Confidence and charisma, the two Cs to being a great salesman like Michael Nash of Pineapple Market, St. Ann. Michael is the artisan behind an array of carved wooden pieces, including african-inspired masks, Jamaican-influenced, colourful plaques, artistic furniture and other home accents. Michaelâ€™s success as a craft maker and vendor comes from the coupling of quality art pieces and a great attitude to sales.
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â€œI spend time on details to make myself stand out.â€? Michael started out as a selftaught carpenter. Michael became acquainted with the more creative side of woodwork in 2002. He started selling those pieces in 2005 after perfecting his craft. His attention to detail is stunning and that meticulousness is maintained from beginning to end. The difference in his quality of work is obvious. Viewers can tell by his use of unique waving patterns in his carvings. He uses acrylic paints and shoe polish alongside food colouring, while others use only the latter. His favourite piece is the lovers scene under the palm tree, which could be partly because his first piece was a couples sign with two lions. This couples sign has evolved over the years into one with palm trees, instead of the lions.
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Michael also spoke about his self-proclaimed shy demeanor. Even if that is true, being a person of very few words does not detract from Michael’s love for interacting with customers. “I really stay in the business to make people happy when they purchase a piece,” he said. He loves the sales aspect of the business and looks forward to continue interacting with customers. Michael, the carving socialite, has certainly found his specialty. True Story.
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“I don’t get to sell at places where everyone else can.” KENNETH GUTHRIE
The Falmouth Pier is a beautiful place with modern amenities for tourists and vendors alike. But if you take a look beyond the pier, just across the street is a small craft market that hosts carver, Kenneth Guthrie. Kenneth’s location speaks to how he feels about the craft society in Jamaica. Kenneth, a carver for 28 years, absolutely loves what he does, but says things are so slow right now. On the pier, a plethora of bigger establishments have made their way into the pockets of tourists and have left smaller businesses behind. Life outside the pier is challenging because only a few tourists venture from the modern-styled pier to the real streets to get authentic Jamaican art.
“If you work for someone they’ll fire you, if you work for yourself, it’s better.”
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Kenneth still however maintains his love for his craft as itâ€™s been a lifelong venture for him. Kenneth started carving alongside his brothers who taught him after school. At first, his interest in the hotel business grew and he decided to be a hotel worker, but his brothers discouraged him and told him entrepreneurship was the way to go. His first piece that he sold was a carving of a cat, and his brothers sold it for him. His sales in those days helped him to attend school and he is proud to say that it is helping his own children with school costs. Since then, heâ€™s been making pieces inspired by animals like fish, turtles, monkeys and more. He even creates key holders. Kenneth started out using lignum vitae wood but left that behind for the cedar variety after receiving complaints about his products being heavy. He has noticed that his cedar pieces go fast depending on what is trending at the moment. Despite the odds, Kenneth relishes his independence and his craft. True Story.
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“Can you imagine, it draw crowd!” ELVIS WARREN
“It makes me feel happy and fulfilled.” Being a craft maker is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life, especially for Elvis Warren, the crafty workaholic. Elvis uses cedar wood to makes his illustrious carvings of mostly animals. These include, fish, frogs, turtles, doctor birds and more. According to elvis, his talent just came naturally to him from a very young age. Elvis has taught his friends and some of them have even gone on their own. Elvis began carving creations around age 12. It began literally just like that, as Elvis did not learn from anyone nor did he receive formal training. Once he began, he loved knowing that he put out a product that inspired people and made them happy. Once, he made a rooster carving and put it on display in his community and its detail and expertise was quite evident. Everyone marvelled at its grandness and was excited about it. He’s made so many carvings since then, but he still remembers his very first piece. Elvis made a duck and ‘peafowl’, more commonly known as a peacock. He also remembers that he felt really good about it, but in retrospect thinks that when he sold it, he didn’t set the
“Craft just comes natural.”
right price. Through it all, Elvis is proud to be a craftmaker and looks forward to one day opening his own gallery. True Story. True Stories | 67
“Mi wah be the next Bob Marley.” ANTHONY ROBINSON
“Is like a wife weh yuh wa lef ’ that you cah lef ’. Is so craft stay.”
has seen his feelings etched into his work. Unforgiving it may be at times, wood carving is his passion. After years of honing his talents and producing his work, Anthony shares that he has some qualms with the industry. In addition to the difficulty to gain access
Born and raised Kingstonian, Anthony Robinson
to hotels and tourists that visit the parish, he regularly
moved to Ocho Rios seven years ago after business at
sees imported carvings from other countries sold to
the Port Royal Craft Shop died out. Robinson and his
his potential customers. He shares that Jamaicans are
wood carving business migrated to the cool hills of St.
‘masters of craft’, and have a vast supply of resources
Ann. Cedar and mahogany wood are his most used
to both build and export the craft created. He shares
materials, but the Blue Mahoe is his favourite, as it gives
that his vision for his business is to firstly get his
a wonderful colour to the wood when used for carving.
artistic creations into the hotels and then see it more
Robinson couples carving with his drawing skills to
appreciated locally and globally. True Story.
create cultural pieces such as the Coat of Arms to any unique design for a custom order. Anthony reiterates that art is powerful and should be respected for its influence in the world. “Artwork is what’s inside of you.” He recounts after first learning to carve, he drew a marketplace scenery on wood and then carved the finished product. His client was so pleased that he became a sort of phenomenon in his district and chose to take it to the next level. Anthony shares that in moments when he is tired or happy, he
“An artist gets their inspiration from opportunity and success. Dat make him tingle!”
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“It feels like we’re fighting a losing battle. I’m looking forward to a fair fight.” BALDWIN DULSTON (BALANDO DESIGNS)
“It is unfortunate that art and craft is being so locked into a box.” Calling arts and crafts a passion for Baldwin Dulstan is not just an understatement, but a grave injustice to the movement he’s building in the industry. As an arts and craft practitioner, Baldwin is the heartbeat of Balando Designs and the brains behind the Jamaica Indigenous Artisans Society (JAMIA). When he isn’t advocating for the arts, Baldwin can be found in his workshop with his seven counterparts making genuine leather sandals, handbags, wallets and clutches, and having a grand time doing it. Baldwin considers himself an artist and hates to tell people he’s a businessman, though he’s been in the business of craft for over 30 years. His passion causes him to set and maintain a high standard for his work. Baldwin is not interested in everybody reselling his craft because vendors may not extend the proper treatment and care that he requires. “Dont just throw it down on the ground if it is to be resold,” said Baldwin.
“Art found me.” This year proved to be a good one for Balando Designs as they received a large order that has transformed them, but the challenges still surpass the highs of the small business world. Baldwin is certain that the economy is driven by MSMEs and hopes Jamaica puts forth much effort into the sector. “Competitors are coming out of Asia and they have mass production,”
To create his beautiful pieces, Baldwin uses mostly local
he said. “It feels like we’re fighting a losing battle. I’m
tanned leather from goatskin. It is, however, becoming
looking forward to a fair fight, with equal requisite input
scarce because not many people are involved in the
to have a fair outcome,” he added.
transformation of skin to leather. His hope is that people will become more involved in leather making.
Baldwin is, however, happy with the JBDC’s efforts in arts and craft and believes that at least a dent is being
Baldwin wasn’t formally trained and he’s very proud
put in the problem of the craft sector on the north coast
of it. By being self-taught, he was able to explore new
of the island. Baldwin’s dream is for Balando Designs
horizons through trial and error. He even received a
to be self-sustainable and in time, will get rid of manual
scholarship to get trained, but he got more exposure to
services. He hopes to achieve an international standard,
the craft while being in the field.
then he’ll be free to say to himself “Well done.” Baldwin sees the craft industry excelling for another 200 years. True Story. True Stories | 71
“I don’t like school, but I am into learning.” MICHAEL SENIOR
Michael Senior is not just the average artisan. We meet him in his home listening to the radio as he prepares for his day. He shares that he can make a career opportunity out of any interest and wood sculpting is one of them. A lover of learning outside the classroom setting, Michael became a self-taught sculptor, creating intricate wooden crafts and bowls from cedar, mahogany and on the rarest occasion, coconut wood.
“My philosophy is to to infuse in the tourism sector.”
Michael began this journey 5 years ago providing his
Tediously he works the wood to create the image in
work to local hotels in the St. James area; until a year
his mind, but Michael doesn’t want to stop there. He
after, when he decided to launch a business from his
aims to share Jamaica’s culture and heritage through
trade. He also enlists the service of four local carvers
his work by creating caricatures of ‘Big Boy’, the wise
and then does the finishes himself.
fool and ‘Anancy’, the trickster. Both are popular
If you visit Senior’s workshop, it will feel like home, because it is his home! It doubles for both his workspace and living quarters. Inside you’ll find
childhood figures that have transcended generations of Jamaicans. Innovative, Senior stands out amongst his peers for his futurism.
beautifully crafted wooden sculptures of human figures,
Michael also leads as the Vice President of Jamaica
bowls, utensils and even a congo drum made
Indigenous Artisans Society (JAMIA) – an organization
from the steady but delicate hands of Senior himself. Though, he is still searching for a location, Michael has big aspirations for his woodwork.
determined to ameliorate the arts and craft industry. Its aim is to encourage other craft vendors to seek overseas markets as a must for growth. Senior hopes that after acquiring a business location and some advice from the experts, he can expand the capacity of his business and the industry. True Story.
“We bring out our culture in how we present our work.” True Stories | 73
“Nobody don’t pay me, I pay myself.” NORMAN THOMS
“Some people nuh like the colourcolour thing.”
ago. Though he is happy about his craftsmanship, he is advocating for more exposure and recognition for himself and his colleagues as legitimate vendors to tourists. Norman is an advocate of his fellow craftsman and wants it to be known that they are the best at their craft because they started it. Norman is proud to call himself a self employed, independent person. He says his work takes quite a bit of effort, as some amount of time is spent meditating about the piece before diving directly into carving. While he tries to keep his pricing standards consistent With each pounding of work tools against the relatively
with the quality of his work, market conditions demand
soft cedar wood, a new dimension is etched into what
that he negotiates with tourists to close a sale.
is to become a great masterpiece to be displayed at Thoms Art & Craft in Fern Gully. The artisan, Norman Thoms, specializes in natural looking carvings, whilst detouring from the usual brightly coloured pieces offered by other artisans in the craft industry. Norman sticks to the natural finish of his wood choices which
One day, Norman would like to see a market being made to assist the sales of Thoms Art & Crafts, as well as his fellow artisans. Each day Norman promotes his business by putting his products on display in hope that they will gain momentum. True Story.
is usually the cedar kind, but may also include blue mahoe, lignum vitae and mahogany. He is adamant that sometimes customers just want the natural thing. About 20 years ago, Norman, during one of his regular ‘reasoning’ sessions with his friends, was inveigled into learning craft. His friends taught him a lifelong skill, which Norman is grateful for and he still sells to this day in the same spot that he was taught in years
“A nuh rich man start craft, is poor people start craft.” True Stories | 75
MontegoBay Craft Market Opposite the beautiful waterfront and the entrance to the famous â€˜Hip Stripâ€™ or Gloucester Avenue, proudly stands the The Harbour Street Craft Market or Montego Bay Craft Market, as locals may say. Built by the Urban Development Corporation in 1979, this village of vibrant, coloured, gable roof huts is a sure show stopper in Montego Bay. This Harbour Street location hosts approximately 254 craft producers and vendors. Most of the shop-holders are women and together they have forged a strong and powerful association to represent the spirit of craft locally and nationally.
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A Jamaica Business Development Corporation Publication
CopyrightÂŠ2015 JBDC. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be reproduced, displayed, modified or distributed without the express prior written permission of JBDC. For Permission, please contact jbdc.net
The "True Stories" magazine represents a bold statement by producers who participated in the North Coast Craft Revitalization Project (NCCRP...
Published on Dec 16, 2015
The "True Stories" magazine represents a bold statement by producers who participated in the North Coast Craft Revitalization Project (NCCRP...