Lana’s pride and industry
LANA RICE’S HIDDEN talent was discovered when she became unemployed and she now declares there is nothing more rewarding than working with her hands.
From the time she was at secondary school Lana always wanted to be a secretary. She left Barbados after her secondary education and came back with qualifications that were not conducive for that teenage dream. With a strong interest now in medicine, she made the decision to go back to school, this time as a mother, and despite the challenges, she got her qualifications in science.
Lana landed a job as a pharmaceutical assistant and life was pretty good. She enjoyed meeting new people and helping them and was contented raising her daughter.
“When you are dealing with people you have to be considerate and show empathy . . . . When you are dealing with sick people they are the least bit of patient, so as a pharmaceutical assistant you have to be on the ball and bring your A game.
“Where I worked also opened a paediatric clinic and I had to deal with sick babies, and sick children are on a whole different level. I had to be extra efficient because a slip could be dangerous and I had to be more understanding because parents would do anything to ensure their child gets treatment.”
However, after 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, Lana was laid off. She was completely clueless as to what her next move would be and stayed home looking at ways to get an income.
“I was not only disheartened, but my grandmother also passed away during the same time. We had a close relationship and it was a trying time. Acquiring money to pay bills was difficult too. I really had to dig into my savings. So one day at home I came up with the idea that I wanted to do something with my hands and I decided that I would put together gift sets.
“I knew people liked body splashes and cream. And I knew females liked wearing sexy lingerie, so I felt like this idea would be good.”
Although Lana had a bright idea, she needed starting capital. She asked her close friends for help and she hit a brick wall.
“I have a family member living overseas who I felt could have helped me,” she said before she became overwhelmed with tears.
“I thought he could have started me off by sending down some products for me but it did not work out. He shot me down out of the air without giving me a chance. He told me that it was not a good idea because women don’t want this and they don’t want that.
“A close friend gave me start-up money to get me going. The girls I knew from work and elsewhere told me ‘Lana, that is a good idea and we will support you’. So this year I got a lot of orders for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day and I felt really great.”
Lana said she spent a lot of time on the phone with her customers asking them about the person whom the basket was for. She wanted to know their personality and the things they liked so she could make the perfect gift basket. But she hit a snag as sales soon declined after those two events and she had to look for another avenue to earn income.
“I was feeling down again and unsure of what to do but a friend of mine pitched an idea to me and I agreed to it because I recently became a grandmother and I had to help my daughter through college.
“My friend told me that since this is our 50th Independence celebrations Bajans would be more patriotic than ever and corsages would be a good thing to get involved in. At first it was hard learning how to put them together and make them look fancy, but by the grace of God I got it done.
“I was so fussy and had so many corsages all over the place. My bedroom was full of them to the point that I had to sleep in the chair. I sold so many of them that I was able to catch back myself and pay my overdue bills.”
Lana got more emotional when she spoke about the things she was able to accomplish since she capitalised on the nation’s jubilee celebrations.
“I got so many sales I could not believe it. That is why I told my daughter that she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to.
“I have come a long way since I was laid off. I came from a place where I thought I could not pay my bills, pay for my daughter’s education and help with her son.
“This has been two years and as a single parent I was able to remain independent and support my family. I would have never thought that I would have sold over 200 gift baskets.
Lana remains grateful for the support she received and even said the girls in the craft shop were a huge help.
“Had it not been for them I would not be able to put food on the table.”