Recently, the lounge of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC) Incubator and Resource Centre at Marcus Garvey Drive in St Andrew was transformed into a fusion of art, fashion, style, vibrant colours, and creativity in a showcase aptly called Design Fusion.
On show, and for sale, were the works of some entrepreneurs and participants in the JBDC’s product-development workshops. This was in keeping with the mandate of the JBDC, which is “to support micro, small, and medium-size enterprises”.
“To this end, we have implemented product-development programmes to support entrepreneurs in these areas,” the JBDC said. These businesses include a high number of jewellery, craft, and clothes makers.
Fashion designers were trained in the Irie Magic Fashion Fusion programme. Since the conclusion of their training, the participants have made gowns for the contestants in the Miss Jamaica World and Miss Jamaica Universe pageants, among other projects.
Last November, Rico Vassell (clothes) and Zoe Smith (jewellery) were further selected to participate in capacity-building workshops in Barbados, sponsored by Caribbean Export.
The workshops in beading, batik-making, and ‘chasing and repousse’ art were conducted by Nigerian artists Pendor Peji and Alao Luqman.
Chasing and repousse are the creation of indentation on metal sheets to create pictures and picture stories. It is an ancient African art form at which Alao Luqman is an expert in.
“With the support of our local and international experts from Nigeria, the programmes have resulted in the successful completion of new collections spanning a variety of product categories,” the JBDC said.
December 6 was the big day for participants in both programmes to show off their creativity, and they were very impressive. Peji and Luqman, who both gave an overview of the training, were encouraged by the enthusiasm and the creativity demonstrated by the participants.
“Today’s showing represents the collective output from a total of 37 participants who have benefited from hands-on coaching, product-development guidance, and other forms of capacity-building, enabling them to participate in a sustainable manner as creative entrepreneurs,” the JBDC also said.
In her keynote address conveying the theme of “Innovative product development as a driver for business success”, Olayinka Jacobs-Bonnick, director of the British Council Jamaica, and former employee at the JBDC, said that innovation is about creating the future now and creating opportunities for people to change their mindsets.
“The idea of being able to innovate and solve problems for other people is one of the ways developing services or products can propel you towards commercial success … It’s really about opening up the skill sets that you do already have and considering how you can utilise them to add business opportunities and revenue opportunities to your own creative businesses,” Jacobs-Bonnick said further.
The opening of the exhibition and tour were led by Valerie Veira, chief executive officer of the JBDC, who welcomed and addressed the gathering; Janet Olisa, Nigerian high commissioner to Jamaica; and Julia Jeffrey, wife of the Trinidad and Tobago High Commissioner to Jamaica were in attendance.