The path of entrepreneurship is both one charted within community but it also carries with it a great level of uniqueness. No two entrepreneurs’ journeys are the same, though we can derive inspiration from the work ethic and perspective of others, entrepreneurs must know that there is no one size fits all formula for success in this industry.
Mr. Oliver Welsh, Chief Executive Officer of D’Tos Woodland Roots reminds us that despite obstacles and no matter how old you are, it is never too late to take the dive into the treacherously beautiful waters of entrepreneurship. Mr. Welsh recounted his story at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC) The Entrepreneur’s Journey interview, and today we will share a few of his gems.
D’Tos Woodland Roots Story
Like many people’s entrepreneurial endeavours, D’Tos was born out of a need to pivot. Mr. Welsh came up on a transitional period in his life. He had worked in hospitality overseas for 19 years and it was time to make his way out of this industry. He shared, “When you get to a certain age, people overseas don’t want to hire you again. So, I came home and knew that it would be a similar situation and so I knew I had to do something for myself to get myself going.”
As a man of prayer, he turned to the tool he was familiar with, all-night prayer sessions. It was in one of these times of prayer that Mr. Welsh said this path was revealed to him. He said, “I didn’t just pick up this path but it was a gift that I got.” This path has now lengthened his career for almost another 11 years.
Roots are a major part of Jamaican culture and have been used for many years to provide medicinal value to many. Through his business, he provides roots and drinks for a variety of purposes. Mr. Welsh said “Let me just say, a lot of people see the moringa tree around and just chop it down and throw it away but when you take those leaves and put them together, they have great potential. Mr. Welsh believes one of the gifts he has been given is to know what methods are the best to use to extract the medicine from plants. “Wherever I go people tell me that these roots help them a lot,” he added.
Overcoming the Storms of Entrepreneurship
Speaking of grit and perseverance, Mr. Welsh had to face many challenges, such as having to walk from Portmore in St Catherine to Kingston, enticing persons along the journey to patronise his natural juices. He said, “I used to walk very far and go from door to door and on my journey sometimes I would have to find a seat under a tree to get some shade and some sea breeze.” This attitude of never giving up is what Mr. Welsh believes has carried him to where he is now. Speaking of the fruit of endurance, Mr. Welsh said, “I have to give thanks because out of this business I have been blessed with a car.”
Mr. Welsh shared with listeners of the interview that his home business had begun taking up too much space in his house and he needed a solution. He went to get a loan and was turned down but he was determined to get another loan and that too was turned down. Mr. Welsh said, “I had to ask the Lord why and then soon after the pandemic started and if I had taken out those loans it would have been difficult. But things have worked out now where I have been able to build an upstairs part of my house without borrowing a cent!”
Mr. Welsh boasts of the growth of his business and said, “I now export overseas such as in Canada and each time we export about one hundred cases.” Continuing, he said “We are now also in most major supermarkets across the island. I have no regrets and it’s a journey, not an easy journey at all but we have to press our way through.”
Oliver Praises JBDC
The JBDC annually awards exceptional local entrepreneurs through its B.O.S.S MAN and B.O.S.S LADY of the Year programme. B.O.S.S Man and B.O.S.S Lady Awards are given to entrepreneurs who embody the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset, embrace a culture of innovation, has evidenced significant change in revenue, entered the export market/increased the value of current exports, introduced a new product/service into the market and is a JBDC Ambassador. In 2022 Mr. Welsh copped Runner-Up for the B.O.S.S. Man of the Year.
Mr. Welsh says he is very thankful for the help provided by the JBDC in the areas of training, labelling and marketing. He emphasises that the entity is his “right hand”, providing support when he is in need. Mr. Welsh says it is not all about money. This business is to see persons’ health improve … where they eat right, exercise, drink a lot of water and natural drinks, and get lots of sunlight. His product, DTOS Roots Wine is a top seller on the Things Jamaican™ ecommerce site – www.thingsjamaicanshopping.com, making his mark in the export market.
In giving his acceptance speech at the awards event held in November 2022, he said “When I was down at the bottom, JBDC really helped to lift me up. I remember I came to JBDC and they helped me with my packaging. I must express gratitude to the staff at JBDC who have helped to push me, encourage me and talk me through. It is a long journey, hard work and delicate work.”