FAIR TRADE: A host of uniquely Jamaican products and services brought patrons flocking to the inaugural expo.
WHEN Cheryl Whytehead heard that the Jamaica International Exhibition (JIE) was having its inaugural staging in Montego Bay in June, she immediately recognized an opportunity to get some great exposure for her company, Devine Treasures. She jumped at it. “I’m glad I came. This has been a great opportunity for me to showcase the products to the tourists because my main goal right now is to take [my company] to the next level,” shared the businesswoman whose bespoke leather creations are all done by hand and include everything from sandals, clutches and bags to purses and wallets.
The quality finish of her work speaks to the decade and counting she’s spent working in leather, honing her craft. What began as a batch of craft-shop items has blossomed into a stock whose pieces can be found in hotel gift shops all over the north coast. “I want to go global, but it’s hard to do it on your own. So events like these help to introduce you to people who are interested in carrying your products and may have connections to the overseas market. For someone like me, it’s also a great way to source raw material.”
For three days, June 1-3, the exhibition hall at the Montego Bay Convention Centre was teeming with sellers and buyers making the most of these kinds of business opportunities, networking and forging connections to take their businesses up a notch. “I actually don’t have any complaints,” Selena Dyke dished to TALLAWAH, standing next to her father, Bruce, with whom she runs the Kingston-based Cool Roofs and Waterproofing Systems Limited. “We’re proud of what the JMA is doing for Jamaican businesses. It’s a fantastic experience. We were hoping to network some more, but there’s always next time.” [The JIE will next be staged in 2019.]
The first-time event also drew gargantuan praise from large-scale entities like Rainforest Seafoods, whose team was kept busy sharing delectable samples (fish sticks, soup) to the swelling crowd when we passed by on the Saturday afternoon. “It’s the first year, and it’s definitely off to a great start. We are members of the JMA, and it’s a huge honour to be participating. I know it will get even bigger for ,” offered marketing manager Bethany Young, who was hoping to swap contact details with a few more buyers visiting from the States and Europe. “The international buyers would really help to boost our sales. That’s what Rainforest Seafoods would really like.”
> MORE: Treasures aplenty, business opp’s anchor first-ever J’ca Int’l Exhibition