Posted on

Talented Ebonnie Rowe brings a Taste of Honey Jam

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Talented Ebonnie Rowe brings a Taste of Honey Jam

Social Share

This young businesswoman is proving there is more to her than passion, such as a willingness to take a leap of faith and determination to succeed, which can bring great rewards.
Why was it important to you to chart your own path as a businesswoman?
I have a need to be independent and to be responsible for my own destiny.  Especially in these economic times when everyone is downsizing. I think if you can do it, it’s always good to have something of your own that you’re the boss of.
You started out mentoring and then ended up working in entertainment. Have you found it difficult to find your place as a woman in the entertainment business?
It’s been a challenge, for sure.  It was very difficult breaking into what was definitely a boys’ club at the time I started in 1995 in Canada.  It was an uphill battle to be taken seriously, to prove that you weren’t some sort of groupie and actually were more than competent and to fend off that casting couch mentality.
Things there have improved by leaps and bounds with so many more women now in positions of influence in the industry.  Two of my Canadian Honey Jam board members are black women who are running companies, one of which is one of the top publishing companies in the world.  So major strides have been made, but I am often reminded that there is still much further to go.
I recently worked on an event in Barbados where there was that old boys’ club mentality among some of the participants, where I don’t feel I was respected simply because of gender. I felt like I had stepped back in time to the 1950s when women were expected to know their place and get the coffee.  It was pretty brutal, but at the end of the day you can’t control someone else’s behaviour; you just have to stay above the fray and keep your eye on the prize.
Do you find it difficult balancing both worlds, life in Canada and your work in Barbados?
It’s a lot to manage businesses, lives, residences in two countries when you do the majority of work on your own, but the work is so fulfilling and satisfying it makes it all worth it.  From the testimonials I receive from the artists who benefit from the Honey Jam workshops and showcase, I know that it’s making a positive difference in their lives.  It’s a great feeling and their feedback is the fuel that drives me forward through all of the challenges.
Why did you deviate early on from taking up a traditional career route, working in an office environment?
Oh, I did work in an office environment for many years – that’s what paid the bills and allowed me to do the mentoring programme, which was a volunteer job and also during the growing years of Honey Jam. What’s great is that I did it on a contract basis, so it gave me some of the flexibility I needed. I find the environment a little stifling for my personality, though – having to be in a particular cubicle from this time to that time and take lunch at this time and only able to take vacation at this time, dress a certain way, and so on.  There are so many rules and restrictions . . . it’s not really my thing, but I’ve done it out of necessity.  I like freedom and flexibility of being able to make my own hours and create something without any boundaries or limitations to where I can take it.
Why is it important for you to be doing something every day that you love and are passionate about?
Lack of passion to me is death.  I live by this quote: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, though chequered with failure, than to be one of those poor souls, who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” I want to live out loud. I don’t want to play it safe. I don’t want to worry about fitting a mould or about doing what is expected, about settling for the sake of appearances. I don’t want to drink from the mainstream. I don’t want to look back with regret and wonder, “What if?”  I want my time on this earth to count for something.
Were you surprised at the success of Honey Jam?
I was actually.  The Canadian initiative happened by accident. It was supposed to be the wrap party for an all-female edition of a Canadian entertainment magazine I was asked to edit, but it was wildly successful and everyone asked me when the next one was going to be.  In Barbados I was tentative about it because I know how fickle the audience is, and you can’t take them for granted or be so arrogant as to think that because you’re successful one place that it will automatically transfer somewhere else.  You have to do the groundwork, and even still there are no guarantees.  I am so grateful for the love that’s been shown to what we’re doing from the media, the artists and the public. 
Why was important to you to bring Honey Jam to Barbados?
I see a huge need for this type of project here.  There aren’t many local opportunities for young artists to perform live or to participate in industry workshops.  I believe each citizen has a duty to do what they can to give back to the country that shaped them.  I believe this has the potential to grow to be of benefit to Barbados internationally.  I also want to show my childhood teacher Mrs  Mavis Carrington that I was listening and I implement much of what I learnt from her in what I do, and for my mother to see me come back to Barbados and do something positive for young women.
What are the future plans for your business and Honey Jam?
The future is limited only by imagination, I’ve got some ideas percolating – a girl’s got to keep some mystery, right? Stay tuned!
What advice would you give to other young women?
Know yourself.  Have clarity about what you want to achieve.  Be willing to do what it takes. Have integrity and a good work ethic.  Keep people around you who know more than you do.  Keep people away from you who drag you down or take away your focus. Ask questions.  Educate yourself and always be open to learning.  Help others.  Have good intentions.  Keep informed. Have courage. Have faith.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum 1000 characters remaining in your comment.