You name it!
Three years ago, Carol Forde was looking for something different to put on the market. Something that consumers would “readily buy into”, and was “reasonable and catchy” but that “wasn’t out there already”.
Explaining that she was “forced” into this business when the tourism-related company she worked for asked her to “come up with something that wasn’t jewellery, that was not photographed on the spot, that was not T-shirts and that was not bags” because their products were being copied by others. She said research led her to the name certificates which received “phenomenal” response.
Then came Personalise It, a business that provides the meaning of a name which can be produced on certificates and mugs. She is also offering key rings, postcards, and printed and embroidered T-shirts with an individual’s name or a company’s name.
“We tested it for about two or three years mainly at events. It is a software product that gives you the meaning of your name and a personality profile. The response has always been ‘really? I didn’t know that much about myself’ or people were just shocked to think that so much of their character and personality were held up in their name,” said Forde.
“So, we sought to make the product as attractive in price and persons gravitated towards that as well as for having it done for seasonal purposes, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and they could have the certificates framed or put on a mug.
“The idea that people love to see something with their name on it, and the fact that you gave them a gift that was personal, it basically says ‘I was thinking about you’.
“Everything is so rushed and so much stress and when you stop to say to someone ‘there’s more to you than all of this and I really appreciate what you’re doing’, whether it be a business colleague or a family member, people like to see something with their name and know they were remembered.”
The operations manager of the St Michael-based business told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY it took off and people who were convinced their names would not be available were often pleasantly surprised.
Growing up in a family-owned business cemented her decision to stick with Personalise It when she faced financial challenges. She said it was “within me” to have her own business and make it successful.
“I do not think I would ever be fully comfortable working for someone else. I’m always coming back to this point of making it happen for myself because, before it was a matter of persons deciding that what you were doing we don’t need that service anymore or they just changed direction in terms of where they’re taking their business and it’s always turning back to what I can do for myself,” she said with a chuckle.
“I decided, ‘let me get the right tools, the right engines, whatever to make this work.’
“Colonel Sanders was older than I am now when he came up with Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is all over the world. There are structures and people in place here in Barbados to help build small businesses.
“I connected with one of those entities to truly help make the business a success because I have been in craft before.
“I have a graphic design business, and whatever I do must include Barbados but still be reasonable enough for Barbadians to participate.
“It should not only try to reach the tourist market because when tourism decides it is going to go down, we need something here that’s going to work every day.”
With that in mind, she went to the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and is a part of their incubator programme. She has sought their help in developing a line of heritage totes that not only promotes the country via images and notes but helps the environment as they are made from domestic fabric or linen.
These bags can be customised for a company or special occasion and it is important to her to reflect Barbados.
She is working towards adding another product.
“People have asked us about pens and so on, but although we’re interested in it, we want to be focusing on the mugs and key rings. We also do personalised postcards.
“We seek to give you what you’re asking for. The pens will come later. In terms of introducing new things, we’ll be engraving names on wooden plaques with paintings.” (GBM)