You could say batik is in Shammal Jordan’s blood.
His mother Louise Jordan has 34 years’ experience in this ancient art where a cloth is made “using a manual wax-resist dyeing technique”.
Matching his mother’s skill with his knowledge of graphics and marketing, gained while doing his Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in graphic design at the Barbados Community College (BCC), Shammal co-founded Saphire Batik Creations on March 20, 2012, at their St Joseph home.
More than two years later the Jordan duo and their small enterprise, which employs three people, is still going strong.
Shammal, 25, who called himself an ambitious entrepreneur aiming “to become the number one supplier of batik in the Caribbean”, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY the business was conceptualised while he was at BCC and was “founded upon strong Christian morals”.
“Saphire produces a wide range of modern and innovative products which include kaftans, T-shirts, wall-hangings, curtains, cushion covers and lots more. We always try to produce what the client wants.
“We usually get a good response from the local females . . . . We find our audience really enjoys the option of being able to customise their fashion or home decor. Also the quality of our hand done products really add to the attraction. We also supply several shops around the island,” he said.
“Business has been going fairly well since the inception, with lots of help from the Barbados Manufacturers Association and in recent times the Barbados Investment Development Corporation. We attend as many exhibitions as we can. These are great opportunities to make new contacts and receive product reviews and feedback whether it is negative or positive.”
Saphire Batik’s admirers included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Central Bank of Barbados Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell, who were among guests at the company’s booth at last year’s BMEX.
The Jordans are pleased when they get such responses, and Shammal was happy that from officialdom to the man in the street “the feedback we receive is positive”.
“Our customers enjoy knowing the products they receive are 100 per cent hand done and there is no other like it,” he added.
The young enterprise and its two owners are also undaunted by the recession that continues to grip Barbados.
“Saphire was started in the recession and is still here. That is all by the grace of God. It can be difficult at times. It’s not every day or exhibition we make sales, but we don’t let those days get us down. We always look at the positive and keep moving forward. One thing we learned from our experiences is that one important contact in the future can be worth more than 20 sales on the day,” Shammal said.
And while he and his mother see a need for advertising and marketing help for small businesses like theirs in these tough times, they have not let go of their ambition to expand.
“We hope to start classes where we teach this art form to those interested and also provide employment to produce quality hand done batik on a much larger scale. To open and supply our own shop is another goal we have for the future, and to also supply shops around the island and for export as well.”