Category Archives: Buy Jamaica

Jamaican Student Entrepreneurs create organic shampoo using sorrel and rosemary

It is said that Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and this invention began with the need to defeat dandruff. Javin Williams, a teenager fresh out of high school, was the one battling this common complaint. The harsh chemicals in the shampoos on the market purported to deal with the problem, while helping his dandruff, were actually creating other problems. Frustrated, he turned to his grandmother, who advised him to wash his hair with rosemary water. In short order, the dandruff disappeared.

Healthy, dandruff free hair

Healthy, dandruff free hair

Some time later, as a mass communication student at Northern Caribbean University, this enterprising young man, along with his sister, Kamla, a social work major, and medical technology student  Kimiesha Maxwell, used this hair remedy in a Business Plan Competition put on by the Morris Entrepreneurship Centre.  With no prior knowledge of how to develop a business plan, they placed respectably in the top five, prompting the Centre to offer their assistance in further development.

During market testing, the team encountered a number of complaints and turned to the Scientific Research Council for help in ensuring that their ingredients were safe. Meanwhile, Kamal Smith, a medical technology student, was brought on board to help in turning the simple remedy into a shampoo and conditioner.

Their research showed them that several common shampoo ingredients, particularly those which created lather, were actually harmful to hair, causing breakage, dry scalp, eczema,  itching and other hair and skin problems. Some of these products are sulphur, sodium laureate sulphate and sodium benzoate. Additionally, parabens were discovered to be carcinogenic.

The team set about creating a safe, organic, low-lather shampoo that would not be harmful to hair, but which would help it to heal from the harsh ingredients it had been exposed to.  In addition to rosemary, they turned to indigenous plants such as lemongrass and peppermint, as well as sorrel, which was found to add body to hair and improve its natural colour.

In June 2012, Herboo Enterprise was officially registered. The two-in-one shampoo and conditioner was put on the market in Mandeville pharmacies, and began to receive positive reviews and win loyal users offering enthusiastic testimonials as to the product’s effectiveness.

Herboo Team

The Herboo Team on the cover of their University Newsletter. (L-R) Kamal Smith, Ashadane Wright, Kamla Williams, Kimiesha Maxwell and Herboo CEO and founder, Javin Williams

Late last year, Herboo entered a local Business Model Competition sponsored by the Development Bank of Jamaica. At this time, Mass Communications major Ashadene Wright joined their team and they won the contest at the NCU level. Mentored by Hazel Wright O’Connor of the Morris Enterpreunership Centre, the team went on to win the national competition. After this win, with Douglas Lindo from UWI now on board to help mentor the group, they flew to Salt Lake City, Utah, to compete with Universities on an international level.

Herboo 100% Organic Shampoo

Herboo 100% Organic Shampoo

Kamla Williams described the experience as “mind-blowing’, being exposed to ‘the genius that is out there’ in the many amazing inventions by students from such prestigious universities as Harvard and Stanford University. Still, Herboo Enterprise held their own, placing 8th out of 42 teams in the competition, and winning the award for the most impressive international competitor. They even managed to surprise the judges in their presentation, by introducing them to sorrel and its uses. Herboo walked away with US$6,000 and an inspiring educational experience. Kamla explained that learning the business model and seeing how effective it is, was invaluable and has inspired them to make it an ongoing part of their process.

Herboo Enterprise still creates their shampoo in the kitchen of Javin and Kamla’s mother in Cedar Grove, Mandeville. The herbs are sourced from their backyard garden. But their goal is to continue to grow their company, and they have plans to introduce many new items to their product line.

Herboo Shampoo  is currently available in Three Angels Pharmacy, James Family Pharmacy, Can Care Pharmacy, Park View Pharmacy and NCU Bookstore, all in Mandeville, and Fontana Pharmacy islandwide and online.

Herboo Enterprise is also on Facebook at


Aeron Cargill – Illustrator and Photographer

Aeron Cargill - illustrator and photographer

Aeron Cargill – illustrator and photographer

Aeron Cargill is an illustrator and photographer based in Kingston, Jamaica. His illustration work includes designs for children’s books, novel covers, etc. He particularly enjoys concept art, which includes character design, as well as storyboarding for TV ads and productions. In his spare time, he returns to his first love, and his introduction into the world of art and photography, which is creating pencil portraits.

When Cargill was 16, a photographer friend introduced him to the art of photography. He was already a pencil portraitist with an art background, so photography seemed to develop as a natural extension to his talents.

When he won the CXC Caribbean award for art in 2001, which was his first major award, it demonstrated to him that the visual arts was a worthy pursuit, despite society’s cues to the contrary. This award gave him the encouragement he needed to pursue an artistic career, and confidence to grow as an artist.

aeroncargill rex

In early 2009 he decided to take his talents in illustration and photography to a professional level. Today, his technique has moved completely over to the digital realm as he uses painting software and a stylus and tablet setup. All his work still starts life in a sketch book and then is translated and completed on the computer. He now prefers digital painting due to the advantages of speed and the freedom to mix effects of traditional mediums over each other in a way not possible in traditional physical counterparts, plus the ability to edit so that changes can easily be made.

To date, Cargill’s work has been published by six publishers, one of which has three books on Amazon which feature Cargill’s illustrations.

aeroncargill illustration

Aeron Cargill Illustration

On the photography side, Cargill takes pleasure in crafting a memorable image and contributing to the history of a person’s life. He considers the technical aspect as being secondary to the knowledge of connecting with another person, and creating an image that both tells a story and gives a glimpse of the inner person. He also takes pride in pleasing his clients with attractive photos achieved through his efforts.aeroncargill bianca

In the long term, Cargill’s aim is to achieve a more cinematic look to his photography. He hopes to develop a more moody and emotional style, be it romantic, pensive, or even epic. In terms of his illustration he hopes to explore more experimental ways of rendering his muses and possibly cement a definitive trademark style.

While he has traditionally used a great deal of realism in his illustrative work, his aim is to introduce textures and patterns to achieve a more ornate look. He also hopes to use advanced techniques to fuse his photography and illustration skills together.

Cargill’s work can be found at his website at

Courtney Chen Photography

courtney chen photo

Courtney Chen – photographer

You couldn’t tell by his stunning photography, but Courtney Chen began taking an interest in photography barely six years ago. Disappointed by the quality of his own wedding photos, Chen began attempting to improve their appearance digitally. Soon thereafter, he purchased a camera and began taking pictures as a hobby. It quickly became apparent that Chen had a natural talent and an eye for photography, as persons who saw his photos began asking him to teach them his technique. Surprised by the attention, Chen decided to start a photography club in which members would travel around the island to various locations to practice their skills.

Soon, Chen decided to go professional with Courtney Chen Photography. He started by taking portrait photographs, which is what he most enjoys. Persons also began asking him to take their wedding photos. Due to lack of confidence in his abilities, he at first declined. However, one friend finally persuaded him to accept the task. Upon seeing the resultant photos, tears gathered in the bride’s eyes. Chen at first thought that he had done something to upset her, but she quickly reassured him that she was only shedding tears of joy. The happy bride began to spread the word, and Chen began receiving more and more requests for wedding shoots.

Photo by Courtney Chen

Photo by Courtney Chen

His clientele grew and to date he has done many weddings, portraits, as well as  a number of model shoots for magazines. When persons ask him how he manages to photograph so many beautiful women, Chen insists that most of his clients are not models, but just normal people. While other photographers seek out beautiful models, Chen welcomes persons of every size or shape to grace his camera as he believes that people are beautiful just as they are, and that it is the job of the photographer to capture their best image.

Photo by Courtney Chen

Photo by Courtney Chen

Based in Kingston, Jamaica, Chen has no studio. Instead, he uses nature as his backdrop. The background of his photos are not altered or changed in any way, but the location is as you see it. His humble and unassuming manner has put many a shy or nervous client at ease. He has had many amusing and eventful experiences on his photo shoots, including one in which a bridesemaid, while jumping for the bouquet, practically jumped out of her clothing.

Chen will tell you that he has no formal training, and is self taught, relying mainly on his instinct as to what looks good to him. This has resulted in something truly unique and special, as can be seen simply by looking at his photos.

Photo by Courtney Chen

Photo by Courtney Chen

Chen enjoys his work, not least because photography has brought him into contact with many wonderful people and allowed him to make many new friends.  You can find his photos online at

courtney chen photos

Photo by Courtney Chen

Patwa Apparel

patwaapparel2Heneka Watkis-Porter is the driving force behind Patwa Apparel, an authentic Jamaican Clothing line that she started in 2007.  As she speaks about her business, Watkis-Porter emanates energy and enthusiasm. A self-professed go-getter, Watkis-Porter declares that “ideas without work is just a hallucination. If you don’t put in the work, then you are only dreaming.” It was while watching a television feature on a Jamaican clothing business that the idea caught fire in her brain, and she decided then and there that she would start her own line of clothing. Within two weeks, Patwa Apparel was conceptualized, named and registered.

Heneka Watkis-Porer

Heneka Watkis-Porter

Watkis-Porter wanted her brand to be uniquely and authentically Jamaican, without having to broadcast the word “Jamaica” on her clothing. She saw ‘patwa’ as a fusion of fashion and culture, and decided that it was an ideal medium for promoting Jamaican culture in a cool and fashionable way.

She began working with contract manufacturers to produce the line the way she wanted it and proceeded to market her brand. The high-quality fashionable wear has been well-received by Jamaicans locally and abroad.

anuhnuttenIn 2012, Patwa Apparel was one of eight talented and innovative manufacturing entrepreneurs chosen to be part of Continental Baking Company’s Bold Ones programme, which was launched in 2010. Under this 6-month long, JA$28million promotional programme, National Bakery nurtures and mentors these new companies, assisting them with state-of-the-art marketing materials and high media exposure in order to give them a well-deserved marketing boost.

In May 2013, Watkis-Porter opened a retail store in Devon House. Now, in addition to supplying her Patwa line to stores islandwide, she would  be supplying her products directly to her customers.

When Jamaica celebrated their 50th year of independence with great hype, with Caribbean Export organizing Jamaican products to be exported to London, Watkis-Porter was ready to take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, she found the returns disappointing. However, from that experience, she learned that while the diaspora was not always willing to pay the higher prices for Jamaican apparel, this did not apply to Jamaican food. And so, Watkis-Porter set her sights on a food line.

10yfyahsideOctober 2013, she launched the 10 FyahSide line of authentic Jamaican sauces and jams with such offerings as Sizzling Jamaican Jerk Sauce, Blazing Barbeque Sauce, and Zesty Guava jam. These can be found at her Devon House Store, and certain Kingston locations such as Empire Supermarket Liguanea, Brooklyn Supermarket Twin Gates, Lee’s Food Fair on Red Hills Road and York Pharmacy.

Patwa Apparel is available at hotel gift shops and clothing stores around the island, as well as online at Watkis-Porter also hosts a blog with her latest news at


Designer Coleen Panton


Coleen Panton, Fashion Designer

Ever since she was a child, Coleen has been in love with fashion. Since both her mother and grandmother were dressmakers, Coleen grew up fascinated with the world of designing and dressmaking. As a young woman, she took a fashion course at a community college in Montego Bay, but for many years after that, her career plans were put on hold. For a while, fashion took a back seat to running a business and raising a family. However, two years ago Coleen dusted off her ambitions, her sketch book, and her sewing machine, and decided that it was finally time to pursue her passion and her dream.

Since then, Coleen has been slowly building up her collection. Her pieces have been appearing in fashion shows around the island and clients have been loving and lapping up her designs. While she sells many pieces here in Jamaica, she also has a growing overseas clientele who contact her regularly, requesting that she send them their favourites.296466_314225462008551_1605140708_n

Although she currently caters mainly to individual clients, her long term goal is to produce a full line of clothing for boutiques and clothing stores around the globe. She currently has one assistant on staff whom she claims is an excellent seamstress, and she hopes for the opportunity to hire many more talented Jamaicans in the future.

Coleen’s creations are elegant and classy, yet comfortable to wear. She designs to flatter a woman’s figure, whatever its shape or size. Check them out for yourself on her facebook page:


Have you bought one of Coleen’s designs? Let us know in the comments box below.

Treasury of Desserts

kathy's blue wedding cake

As a teenager, Kathy Gauntlett had no idea which career path to choose and little inclination to choose one. When a school guidance counselor suggested that she examine the offerings of the then College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) in Kingston, Jamaica, she practically scoffed. However, as fate would have it, their baking technology course caught her interest, and she signed up.

Kathy had discovered her talent. From there developed her love of baking, and her life path was set. In 1997, she started her own business, lovingly named “Treasury of Desserts.” From her kitchen at home, she began to produce delicious and tasty desserts for a range of clientele.

Her offerings include beautiful wedding cakes, birthday, christening and shower cakes. She expertly bakes appetizing cookies, puddings, pies and tarts, but cheesecakes are her specialty.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

In 2011, she was nominated Best Dessert Caterer of The Year in the Observer Food Awards competition. Her oreo cheesecake was a hit with the judges and she won first place.

Today she continues to produce scrumptious and delectable treats from her home in Kingston where she resides with her husband, Karl Tait, and her young daughter. She is currently searching for a regular outlet for her desserts in order to make her creations more accessible to the public.

You can find her offerings on her website at or email her at She can also be found on Facebook at

Have you tried Kathy’s desserts? Tell us your favourites in the comments box below.

Buy Jamaican – building the list

In the Buy Jamaican category of this blog, I will be introducing to you small Jamaican business owners, at home and abroad, who are working hard to uphold Brand Jamaica. I will also be providing links to their websites, if any, and where they can be found, so that we can all continue to support them.  If you know any such persons, please contact me so that I might include them on this site.

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