Brampton, Ontario April 10, 2017 — for businesswomen, Karen Hinds and Joan Kelly, the recent JN Group Expo in Brampton, on Saturday, March 25, was more than an opportunity to enquire about mortgages, savings and other commercial banking and financial products.
They embraced the expo — which attracted some 5000 patrons — as an opportunity to finally explore the possibilities of expanding their emergent businesses to Jamaica.
“I did not know that it was so easy to do business in Jamaica, when you have the right documents, such as your passport,” commented Hinds, who operates Dreads & Natural Hair Studio, in Brampton, Ontario.
Her company caters mainly to Black women with natural hair, and she was impressed with the information she received from companies in the JN Group, and a range of Jamaican government agencies, as well as, real estate and construction companies at the Expo.
Hinds combines her salon with a value-added line of hair and body treatment products, which she creates and sells through an adjoining store. Her thriving brick and mortar location in downtown Brampton, is a hub for the large Black community in the town and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) — as well as, an employer for many.
The 39-year-old Kingston, Jamaica native, who migrated to Canada at age 15, has been operating her studio for some 10 years, and employs some 14 persons on a full-time and part-time basis — comprising stylists, who are commissioned, and administrative staff.
However, she believes there are rich opportunities for the growth of her hair products in Jamaica, noting that some 80 percent of her clientele are Jamaicans.
“My idea is to have multiple locations and to expand the business elsewhere,” she said, noting that her vision is to be in main towns and cities across Jamaica, eventually.
Some of the key ingredients for her hair and body care products are also sourced from Jamaica, and she believes that, in the long term, her business could also be a boon for industries in Jamaica.
“My long term goal is to be able to source raw materials in bulk from Jamaica. This could encourage increased growing of castor beans and coconuts in the agricultural sector, to influence manufacturers to expand agro-processing,” she opined.
Similarly, Joan Kelly plans to expand her small massage and skincare treatment outfit, Starr Treatments, to Jamaica.
Originally from Porus, Manchester in Jamaica, the certified skincare and massage therapist, who operates in Toronto, also sees the move as an opportunity to experience life in Jamaica, which she left as a 10-year-old, more than three decades ago.
“I miss Jamaica. That’s where I am from,” she declared, as she enquired about how to open a business account, getting business financing and securing a mortgage from JN Bank.
Health conscious, Kelly wants to explore nutraceuticals, using Jamaican herbs, such as the Guinea Hen weed, to deepen the range of skin products she distributes in her own line. Her business in Toronto, currently carries products by other Black Caribbean entrepreneurs.
“I’m hoping to locate my operation on the north coast to take advantage of business from the local and tourist industries,” she projected.
Attending the JN Group Expo, which provided a one-stop information centre, she related, provided real insight as to how she can venture into business, and eventually to relocate to Jamaica.
“I just like the overall people and the environment; therefore, it’s a place I’d like to go back to, live, and do business,” she affirmed.