Arlene turns talents into dollars
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT Crop Over that moves Arlene Olive to get involved. Not only is it a time for business people like her to make money but it is also fun.
Every year for the past three years, she rents a cart and hits the road selling what can arguably be the one treat that Barbadians of all ages reach for to quench their thirst on hot days – a sno-cone.
While the micro businesswoman sells the icy treat with a range of flavoured syrups occasionally, at other times of the year she does needlework to earn a living.
She told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that she likes “to be independent and make money”. So, after losing her job at a garment factory she knew she could not sit around hoping to land a job. She took to sewing which had been doing from a young age and it worked.
Olive, who operates from her City home, said that she would try her hand at anything to make “a little money” once it is within the law and noted, that when she was around the age of 11 or 12 she would plait “cornrows for 50 cents a head so she would always have money”.
While there is a good opportunity for her to make money during the Crop Over Festival, there are only three events that you are likely to see her at: Foreday Morning, Bridgetown Market and Grand Kadooment simply because the mass based events provide a higher return on her investment. You might also see her at the odd night event such as Crop Over in the City.
While she has not made the formal step to give her business a name she is thinking seriously about it.
“I started selling sno-cones for the fun of it. It is a lot of hard work but it brings in a little money. I come out during the day but if there is an event at night sometimes I would attend. I rent the cart from the ice factory, I get the ice and I buy how many pounds I can afford. I don’t make my own syrup, I buy it from Newton Industrial Park.
“The most popular flavours are coconut, tamarind, cherry and the children love the blueberry and lime. Sorrel also sells well but mostly at Christmas. Once there is no rain you sell all the ice and you know you will be happy when you count your money. Once the ice factory is open and you have the energy you can get a refill, if it isn’t then you go home.
“The number of sno-cones you sell per day depends on the amount of ice you have. Sometimes you cannot afford to buy a big portion of ice and you just buy what you could afford. The ice is sold by the pound.”
The cart she has can hold 300 pounds.
Olive said that for Foreday Morning she does not offer alcohol because a licence is needed to sell alcohol and “I don’t do anything to break the law”. People do buy sno-cones in the wee hours of the morning and at night she noted. For Foreday Morning, if a vendor does not sell out he/she could head to Bridgetown Market before topping up again, she explained.
After the festival, Olive turns her attention back to her needlework.
“I specialise in aprons, chef hats, and pillows. When I was in school in the 1980s, I learnt needlework but I didn’t like it after so I went into hairdressing. Since I haven’t worked for five years now, I got back into sewing.
“The needlework is seasonal and when its slow I go back to sno-cones. You have an apron season and a pillow season. In December, you cannot have enough pillows. You definitely have an apron season which is February and April because people use more aprons at that time. I do aprons for fish markets, for people who work at restaurants and hotels and for the hawkers.
“You have different styles for the different folks. So, in January, everybody wants to go out looking new and they call for new aprons. For the fish season, it’s the same thing and I do have some passers-by who stop and buy. I make all styles of aprons it doesn’t matter. I also do clothes peg bags, chef hats, pillows, pillow cases, cushion covers, throw cushions and alterations.
“As I said, things are seasonal so sometimes everybody comes in sometimes there is no one coming. If there was a week that’s slow then the following week I would go sell sno-cones. Like, now, it’s slow for the needlework so I would sell sno-cones until maybe I get an order. If I get one then I would go do it,” she said. (GBM)