Out of bad came good
While some businesses struggled to stay afloat during the harshest period of the pandemic, several women in Manchester were able to create new businesses or completely revolutionise their offerings to meet existing demands and remain relevant.
The highly saturated field of fashion and décor, which experienced a significant lull due to cancellation of events and perpetual imposition of curfews, saw Vasiana Miller-Hewitt, owner of Designs by Vas, adding grave décor to her list of services to maintain her relevance.
“God was so good that he gave me different ideas to diversify and spread my wings and add to my clientele. I started grave draping and décor for funerals and other events. After the first grave draping I designed it really took off. We do drapes for vault graves and I recently did a sepulchre for the first time.”
The self-taught designer who began creating outfits in 2019 because she could not find themed pieces for special occasions, and launched her business just a month before COVID-19 hit Jamaican shores, said she is looking forward to the future as the post-COVID era seemingly inches closer.
“Business is not easy, it is kind of male dominated, so it is not easy for us women, but you have to be persistent and know that this is what I want to do. I am looking forward to broadening my clientele and having my business becoming a household name.”
Similarly, Danielle Plummer, owner of Frosted, a cake baking and decorating company, and Melissa Sunanon, owner of Melibeezz Accessories, started their businesses in the middle of the pandemic, after recognising that they could meet a demand.
“I started making chains because everyone was wearing a mask and saw that it was the thing in the pandemic. I started introducing it to my family because they are my biggest customers. From their word of mouth, my business went on from there. I am hoping to expand, go abroad, selling on Etsy and just get my name out there,” Sunanon explained.
According to Plummer, one of 30 women showcasing their business at the Made in Manchester Expo on Sunday, honing a skill and exploring a passion is important to actualising ideas for entrepreneurial growth.
“For years I had a bag of icing in my freezer and decided on not discarding it. I took some leave from work and decided I would try something. I did a cake for my husband’s birthday which was in the middle of the pandemic, persons expressed an interest in the product and it started from there. I am grateful for COVID for helping me to realise this passion.”
Importantly, business owners are also seeking to meet the health demands of the masses and that is what Angella Edwards of Alternative Enterprize is doing with a list of products from pain management to enhancement products for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction.
“We have magnesium gel which helps with pain management and muscle recovery. We have our ginger oil blend that helps with poor circulation, and we also have Rev up, which is a male massage oil which helps men naturally to bring blood flow where it needs to go.”
Edwards said she has also added Old-time Jamaica Chocolate Tea Blend, which is pre-prepped packaged with local spices, to her product listing.
“This is something that is dying out now and we want to bring it back. It is very difficult for me to get the cocoa beans. I notice when you go to the country people are not taking care of the trees any more, so I have persons who are now reviving these trees.”