Tiffany Davis brews up a storm
For Tiffany Davis, life has taken unexpected turns that she continues to navigate with a fierce determination to succeed. The mother of two describes herself as highly motivated and self-driven, traits undoubtedly underpinning her latest accomplishment – graduating at the top of her class in the 2019 Red Stripe Bar Academy’s third cohort.
In collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA, Red Stripe carefully curated a six-week course offering training in bartending and other service industries. Tiffany shares her learning experience, highlighting how the programme has helped her to shift her focus and re-establish her values.
Did you always see yourself becoming a bartender?
Not at all. Growing up, I told myself that I would never become a bartender. I don’t know, but as a woman, it was hard to imagine that people would have respect for me in that kind of environment.
How, then, did you get into bartending?
I started bartending after my first daughter got sick. I needed the money, so I needed to do whatever it took to help her. I remember the first bar I worked at and I was so determined that I learnt all the ropes within the first week. From there I’ve been in bartending for the last four years, working at different bars and events.
Were you always eager to learn more?
Most definitely! I mean, not to brag or anything, but because I am a pretty fast learner, I wasn’t satisfied with serving the basic alcohol plus chaser. I would always go around the bar and learn one or two things, including how to make a few mixed drinks. My friends knew this, so one of them told me about the programme Red Stripe was offering, and it was exactly the kind of opportunity I was looking for.
Q: Where do you get your sense of motivation from, and how might others learn from it?
Everything I do and have done, has been to the best of my ability, not for my sake but for the sake of my children. I am a perfectionist, so I work very hard, and if I do for my kids, it must be the best that I could have done. I’d tell anyone considering bartending that they need to know why they are doing it and find that inner drive so they can succeed.
Based on your experience, how would you describe the Red Stripe programme?
I would say that the course hit the nail on the head. I particularly liked that they touched on customer service and that they used role playing in those sessions. Some customers can really be a handful, and the customer service sessions gave insight on how to handle those kinds of situations – using humour, for example, to defuse the tension between, perhaps, another bartender and a customer, or little things that make the working environment more pleasant.
What was your favourite thing about your cohort?
We became very close over time, and I really liked that. Seventeen people who didn’t know each other learning together and helping each other to understand the course material was really inspiring. We also had a mother-like figure on the teaching staff, Ms Damia, who would be there to help us resolve little squabbles or to explain some of the things that we weren’t understanding. Maybe if we didn’t have that sense of comfort, learning would have been much more difficult, so I’m really grateful for that.
How has this programme shaped your plans for the future?
Well, it has certainly made me more confident. I also think that meeting all the other trainees means that we have our own little group where we can share ideas, tricks or even job opportunities. The programme also has me seriously thinking, about furthering my studies. While I was at Old Harbour High, I was in love with food and nutrition and home economics, mainly because I love cooking. Who knows? Maybe in a few years I could go as far as owning my own restaurant and bar. I feel like anything is possible!
Funded by the Desnoes & Geddes (D & G) Foundation, Bar Academy is a training initiative that equips participants with knowledge-based tools and technical skills in the field of bartending. The six-week programme is delivered in partnership with HEART Trust/NTA who recruits participants between the ages of 18 and 35 from across Jamaica. This year, 300 students will benefit from the programme and have the opportunity to participate in a four-week paid internship provided by the D & G Foundation.