Heneka 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.
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.
In 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.
October 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 http://patwaapparel.com. Watkis-Porter also hosts a blog with her latest news at http://henekawatkisporter.blogspot.com