Sunday 26 May, 2019

Jamaican entrepreneurs eye profits as Carnival fever spreads

Carnival is big business.

Not only is the festival a major boon to the tourism industry and by extension the economy, but it is also beneficial for small businesses.

As the Carnival product grows in popularity, more and more Jamaicans are realising the commercial opportunities that the festival creates.

Kandi King, who owns a Carnival concierge service, Karnival by Kandy, said she has seen a growing business interest in Carnival.

“It is growing and there are more opportunities for retailers to get into the service of Carnival,” she said, noting that there are more offerings for Carnival services such as healthy food and makeup services.

King got into the concierge business after attending Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago and seeing the need for professional assistance if any foreigner wanted to enjoy a premium experience. In addition to Karnival by Kandy which offers Carnival packages for T&T, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Barbados and Miami, King recently launched a line of V Band tights for masqueraders. Already demand is high, not just in Jamaica but all over the world where Carnivalistas reside.

Kevin Grant, the owner of Jamaica Carnival Boots, an online retail store catering to the Carnival market, is now in his fourth year of operation.

He told Loop that he is a Carnival fanatic and has been involved in the festival for years.

He was inspired to get into the Carnival supplies business when the women complained about getting boots and trinkets.

Grant said this year has been his best in terms of sales but has been hectic with late orders.

He said more and more people in Jamaica are recognising Carnival as a good time to get sales and now many people are importing boots, stockings, bags, and accessories to sell.

“Small businesses like us do well for Carnival,” he said.

Asked if there are any challenges, he said: “I just want the ladies to order their boots earlier,”

Tiffany D, owner of Carnival Shop JA, formerly Shop Tiffany offers makeup services and sells lashes, tights, rhinestones, face gems and stockings for masqueraders.

Tiffany said she has been involved in Carnival back when there was only one band.

“Now there are even bigger bands. It is growing and there are more opportunities for retailers to get into the service of Carnival,” she said.

Khamal Bankay, Chairman of the Jamaica Carnival Stakeholders Committee, told Loop the growing number of Jamaicans engaged in secondary businesses because of Carnival is proof that the festival is becoming a true national affair.

“I am seeing a whole heap of secondary businesses from makeup to decorating to accessories, those companies have literally popped up overnight and exploded. We are very happy that we can have this whole secondary industry.

“When you talk about dancehall, that industry is not just the music, it is obviously the party, there is a bar system, the peanut man, the cane man, the jerk chicken man, and even before the party, every hairdresser full and all in the fashion boutiques people are shopping. When those things become larger than life in terms of the spectacle, the secondary support businesses receive huge upticks in commerce. From boots to glam accessories, tights, food, and beverage, production, these things are expanding rapidly and barely keeping up with the frenetic growth. Jamaica has finally turned the bend in terms of focusing on growing Carnival,” he said.

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