Now more than ever before, it’s clear… Business cannot continue as usual, lest we destroy ourselves and the planet.
For the world to stop spinning its wheels of war, racism, hunger, poverty, environmental degradation and a multitude of other systemic issues, we must step into a collective new norm of business as a force for good.
Across the globe, a plethora of small businesses like Story & Myth in Kingston, Jamaica, have long been dedicated to weaving sustainability and social responsibility into the fabric of its operations. As we call on more businesses, big and small, to take this approach, we must celebrate and support those who are already doing business consciously, as examples to be followed.
This week, Story & Myth has partnered with us to highlight 6 specially selected conscious small businesses in Jamaica.
The word that aptly ties these entities together is INTENT. Each of these strong, savvy, creative women entrepreneurs are intentional, detail-oriented, and steadfast in their commitment to building circular economies that are of service to each life touched within their processes.
According to Story & Myth’s founder, Kristie Stephenson, “We need to buy more local, not just because it’s trendy, but because we understand the differences in things that are mass produced.” These differences include a production chain that oftentimes secures the livelihoods of people across social strata, decreases labor abuses, uses and recycles natural materials, and promotes authentic culture.
Like the rest of the world, the pandemic has impacted all of these businesses.
For Kristie, Story & Myth’s sales were tied directly to Jamaica’s travel industry, and related businesses, some of which have completely shut down. She has pivoted by taking a new approach to social media marketing, providing comfort through storytelling.
“Even though the beads have meaning, since Covid19 I didn’t want to post my regular content – which was people wearing the beads. I didn’t feel it was appropriate. So, I went to my first love, which is stories. I decided to post stories that would take your mind from what was going on, and give you hope. I also want to share stories that speak to unsaid human feelings. I believe stories can heal us,” Kristie says. Using a chalk wall in her home, Stephenson illustrates and narrates stories that she posts daily. Also a bit of self-therapy, each morning she erases the chalk drawing and starts anew.
So far, her social media engagement has spiked since the shift. With the added sensitivity of the George Floyd case, coupled with the pandemic, Kristie is slowly reintroducing new products online, with an acute awareness of the emotional and financial climate.
That said, Story & Myth beads, which are created to provide calm and connection, are tools that can help one navigate this time. “Every charm is a symbol with a story, and a reminder to always be hopeful. Also, the seeds are grown in Jamaica, and are a symbol of home for Jamaicans throughout the diaspora,” Kristie shares.
Here are the Small Businesses to Support in Jamaica Kristie selected, and a bit on why she did…
Freer Essence – “As a filmmaker, Ania interviews rural Jamaicans in a respectful way – not condescending or patronizing. People from certain demographics here lack respect for people from other segments of the island. There is no voice or platform for those people. I’m happy Ania created that, and I support her new body oil line and anything she does.”
Marina Burnel Photography – “The money Marina is raising for her Pickcha Mi Yaad photo project since the pandemic goes to Maxfield Park Children’s Home.”
ASD – “Ayanna teaches and shares her knowledge with young women. She also includes diversity in her art and fashion work, which I think is so lacking in Jamaica. Traditionally, white or lighter skinned models are used, which lacks representation. She includes all sizes and colors of people. Her work isn’t fast fashion – it’s work that someone took time to do.”
DAE Collection – “Debra is using leftover leather pieces to make her sandals line, and gives back to Eve for Life – an organization that helps girls who have been raped and are now living with HIV. Her business is new, but I like her mission and her devotion to giving back.”
Hmgrwn and Co. – “Danielle takes things that we are so familiar with and finds a way to use them in her natural beauty products. For instance, sorrel which is a staple in Jamaica… Who would have thought to make that into a beauty product.
The Girl and the Magpie – “Veronique creates beautiful jewelry with things she finds in her environment, which I find inspiring. She’s an artist and her pieces are very poetic.”