ANTILLEAN ENTREPRENEURS
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As far as entrepreneurs go, Lacey Ann Bartley is as passionate as they get. Sitting in the seat of Managing Director of the Jamaican furniture company, Bartley’s All In Wood, she is well aware that she is paving the way for other female entrepreneurs region-wide.

“I always say that a business is blood, sweat, tears and a dream. I saw my father run a business as a child. I had some idea of what I was getting into and the struggles it entails. No doubt, challenges are present in our undertakings but when you are passionate and dedicated to what you are doing, your eyes will be on the prize and not on the hardships you encounter getting to the prize.”

Such is the resolve of the young entrepreneur, born and raised in the rural parish of Manchester, on Jamaica’s southern coast. As a child, her formative years were spent at the Mandeville All Age School before attending Manchester High School. She would then enroll at The University of the West Indies where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Management and later a Master of Science in Government. In the background though, taking over the family business was always somewhere in the cards.

My father, who was always the breadwinner, has been manufacturing furniture even before I was born. I grew up with the dream of always wanting to take over the operations of the business so the transition for me was a dream come true.

Officially registered in December 2011, Bartley’s All in Wood sprung out of Bartley’s Furniture Establishment which has been owned and operated by the Bartley family for over thirty years. The company designs, manufactures and sells handmade wooden furniture, jewelry, executive memorabilia, and home accessories. The small business, which employs nine people, recently started exporting to other countries.

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“We are 100% Caribbean/Jamaican and we remain committed and true to the ‘land of wood and water’,” Bartley points out, in reference to Jamaica. “We use the best and most durable woods to create our products and that is also one of the reasons we will remain in the Caribbean.”

An environmentally conscious company, Bartley’s All In Wood uses the off-cuts of furniture products to create little ‘pieces of Jamaica’ such as the ‘woogie’, a wooden hair accessory that doubles as a head band or ornamental clip.

“The woogie is our most popular piece yet. The name woogie is a derivate of a pet name for someone who I cherish and is very close to me; Boogie. Boogie + Wood = Woogie, a moniker of my two passions. This piece is loved by many especially by those who like to stand out and have a unique style,” she adds.

The company also prides itself in uniquely designed wooden products created in-house by Bartley and her staff. Additionally, a commitment to empower young men from rural Manchester by providing them with jobs and apprenticeships has not gone unnoticed in the country struggling with high unemployment. Bartley’s has received several recognitions and awards including Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and National Baking Company Bold One 2014.

Personally, these experiences help to motivate me and remind me that hard work does pay off. Being recognized also means not only motivation for us but increased exposure often leads to increase sales and demand, which in turn will see us having to hire more persons to meet the need.

The recognition also augurs well for Jamaica as it solidifies the fact that Jamaicans can trust locally-made products. The company’s growth is continuing with new measures to increase production at the operating facility, the launch of a new e-store in the near future, as well as aggressive marketing to tap into the tourism and export markets. Bartley hopes to make a meaningful contribution to Jamaica’s Export market and positively impact the country’s GDP. For other Caribbean people who want to take the leap into the entrepreneurship, she had this to say.

“There is nothing wrong with creating your own job and possibly also for others. My advice to young entrepreneurs is to be willing to take risks, be creative and separate yourself from the crowd, seek advice from those who are already in the industry, set realistic goals and work towards achieving them.”

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Denise Clarke, AMG Senior Journalist

Denise Clarke is a writer and PR consultant based in Kingston, Jamaica. She works with self-published authors, entrepreneurs and small businesses to develop content that will engage their target audiences.