Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 26th 2014 Contents "Unfortunately, the first people who really
understood what I was trying to do through
edutainment products were the ex-pats who
were living here, taking it back as gifts. I am
hoping to get Trinidadians playing with my
products. Wearing my stuff, reading my books,
because we really should be playing with our
own material. I actually do not understand
why we only know A is for Apple."
This is Jeunanne Alkins response to a ques-
tion posed at the Social Entrepreneurship
Hive 2014 event, hosted by the Growing Lead-
ers Foundation on October 13 and 14. The
question dealt with her advocacy of "buy
local," even as she appeared to cater to the
Her products: a line of children s clothing,
educational books and soon, an animated
series featuring Caribbean children and
themes, are part of a social enterprise called
"I am telling you that where I ended up is
because of where the market put me. It is
not that I don t try. We constantly try to get
government support for cottage industries. If
you are not doing pepper sauce or that kind
of thing, there isn t that support. There is
nowhere for people to stand. Trying to get
stores to take local products, do you know
how hard that is ? I can t even get a children s
store to take my products because Dora is a
sure sell, Pixar is a sure sell. But products
have traction. Take a chance on my stuff."
Alkins decision to take a chance on T&T s
culture and its potential value to the world
had roots in her childhood.
"My mother is very much into local and
sustainable living. We never had foreign
Christmas trees, we never had pine trees, we
never had fake trees. We would use whatever
it was from our environment. And that is
how we grew up."
She also said her working in her family s
small business, Snikla, (Alkins spelled back-
ward), probably opened her mind to the pos-
sibility of being an entrepreneur.
It was not her automatic choice, howev-
er.After leaving St Joseph s Convent in
1999, Alkins attended UWI
Mona, where she
munications, but chose to specialise in mul-
timedia as opposed to journalism. On returning
home, she went to work with MACO mag-
azine. Alkins was there for five years, starting
as a graphic artist and working her way up
to design manager, after which she left to
form her other company, a design collective,
Everything Slight Pepper.
She said the collective s work is every bit
as creative as its name, which was chosen
because its ability to evoke a sense of every-
"Everything Slight Pepper started with me
trying to find a quirky name, something a
little different. Something that had a personal
story to it. I believe in starting a conversation.
It opens up and it makes people smile.
"I liked the name because people are so
passionate about doubles in this country that
everybody has a favourite or an opinion on
who is the best or their vendor of choice. It s
three Standard English words. It s almost
raceless and classless and it is enjoyed by
Considering its brief existence, Everything
Slight Pepper, has picked up several awards,
including five ADDYs for its work on the 3
Zero rum campaign.
"Three Zero is one of the projects I am
most proud. We were basically commissioned
to develop the identity, the packaging, the
full marketing plan."
She was also recognised by the Council for
Competitiveness and Innovation at the recent
i2i event and was nominated for another award
from the T&T Chamber of Commerce at their
Champions of Business event two Fridays ago
as the Best Emerging Entrepreneur.
Alkins said what she enjoyed most about
working on the 3 Zero brand was the complete
freedom she had from the owners to develop
it.This, she said, is a problem small firms face
when dealing with clients; this lack of trust.
She also said that local companies do not con-
sider branding a priority.
"We are in a patchwork culture, where rent
is important, equipment is important, but not
branding, which can set a company apart."
Returning to another aspect of culture, the
hardship she has faced in placing her ESPjr
children s line of products in local stores, Alkins
said a large part of why she embarked upon
the creation of it was to get Trinbagonians to
realise the value of their own. She has found
that fighting ingrained consumption patters
are hard. The stores that have picked up the
clothing line are mainly souvenir sellers.
"All the other brands are in the same place
as me. They are in the gift and tourist category
because it seems that you buy these things
when you are taking them to somebody who
wants to buy something Trini."
To ensure the success of the children s line,
Alkins said she has decided to provide back-
stories to the characters featured on the
clothing to give them wider exposure.
They are Tyson the crab, Hatch the
leatherback turtle, Sippy the sno cone and
two coconuts, Oil and Water. Hatch s storybook
is being launched in December. He is a baby
turtle competing against his brothers and
sisters to dig his way out of their nest. The
story has a moral.
"They learn that unless they work together,
they are not going to be able to get out," said
She also explained the logic behind another
of her business decisions, that of forming a
design collective as opposed to a formal adver-
tising agency. The collective is a loose, informal
group of people skilled in various areas of
design and communications. Working in this
manner, gives them the opportunity to work
outside of their regular jobs or their own busi-
"We are very creative people. I have never
passed through the advertising agency struc-
ture, so I don t know what it is like to have
the division forced on me between clients and
creatives. My creatives have come either float-
ing in and out of agencies."
In addition to all that she is doing, Alkins
is hoping to be finished soon with the concept
side of her animated children s feature, centred
around characters Bim and Bam.
Alkins said she will be going to France to
pitch the idea in October of 2015.
"My dream is to get it on international air-
waves. Not just the diaspora. I want the world
to know about the Caribbean, the authentic
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 26 • 2014
A is not for apple
Entrepreneur challenges the status quo
Links Archive October 25th 2014 October 27th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page