Feel at home with care packages from Ja
We often take for granted the things we have readily available at home in Jamaica - like bun and cheese or a cheesy or salty local snack - Ti-gaz, cheese trix or banana chips and plantain chips or authentic Jamaican herbs and spices. These things become a thing of the past for many who have departed to foreign soil.
Well, that's where care packages come in. Especially if they comprise delicious mouth-watering goodness that have tickled your taste buds for most of your life. Those missing out on the taste of sweet Jamaica can now receive just that from locally based company Jamaican Care Packages and internationally based, Irie Mon Box.
And since today is Independence Day, Food decided to have a chat with the two corporations to find out a little more about their innovative move to spread a bit of Jamaica internationally.
problem to solve
Rory-Craig Walker, who came up with Jamaican Care Packages, told Food, "Well, I have a few friends studying and living abroad, and a few times I would see them say on Facebook 'Bwoy, I miss Chippies, if I had some in my life right now, things would be awesome.' So I figured this could be a problem I could solve."
Jamaican Care Packages he says is: "A way for folks abroad, who miss the good ol' days and niceties of Jamaica, to get it delivered right to them."
What started as just a page on his old blog, has now led to having its own dedicated website. Shipping officially began in August 2014. "I shipped off my first package to an old prep school friend who I haven't seen in person in more than 15 years. Probably if she didn't order, I wouldn't be where I am today. That was a very important order. It validated the business."
Today, he ships an average of 50 care packages a month to the USA, Canada and United Kingdom and the US Virgin Islands. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to get to that number, reach those countries, and the obstacles he encountered along the way only made him stronger. He noted that, at first, people thought his business was a scam. However, after customers started posting their care packages on Facebook, people started to see the light. "I make it my point of duty to provide great customer services - responding to all clients, whether by calling, Whatsapp, iMessage, Facebook or Instagram. When people see someone responding, they feel more at ease when ordering," Walker explained.
Shipping off packages, too, posed a bit of a problem, but he garnered the support of his
parents, his mother assisting in the purchasing of goods and his father being the 'wrapper'. "Right now, it's about getting the Jamaican diaspora segment perfect. There is still a long way to go. I want to be the bridge home for all Jamaicans worldwide," he admitted.
"The strangest thing customers have ever asked for is most definitely cake soap or blue bomba," the young businessman noted.
IRIE MON BOX
Irie Mon Box explains that they are essentially a lifestyle, a vibe, a taste of the Caribbean.
According to its proprietors Stephen and Nicki Chong, "We are offering a chance to continue their jaunt in the Caribbean until they can make it back again."
Their initial concept began with Jamaica as "the jump-off point" then quickly spread to other islands. "Jamaican products were the catalyst because we reside in South Florida and, as Jamaicans, we had friends and family living throughout the US who would ask us to purchase little essentials and ship to them. So, of course, the Irie Mon Box monthly subscription box company concept started to culminate on its own," the Chongs asserted.
They saw their first subscription on June 5, and described their experience as nothing short of humbling, "The passion for what we have done is clearly visible; as many people have said to us, only because of the love we have for our homeland, which we know resonates within all of us across the islands. We just want to share a little of our country with the world."
The couple started out doing everything on their own, and it was tedious, but now they have addressed that by having a very small and supportive team to whom they are grateful.
Irie Mon Box does not facilitate customised boxes, because the concept is based on the element of surprise, which is what a true subscription box concept is all about. Some of their staples include jerk seasoning, pepper sauces, jams, chips and other snacks, coffees and cakes.
They confessed the most intriguing request came from someone in the middle of Georgia who is not from Caribbean asking them for Jackass corn, "Imagine that? Jackass corn man! We just couldn't believe it and we laughed and laughed. That's when we knew this is going to be fun."
And going forward, "The sky is never the limit, there is a whole universe out there," admitted Nicki. "Our plan is to continue to grow with our team, build lasting relationships with our source partners, and continue to provide a quality product and unparalleled customer service to our community," they highlighted.
To order from Jamaican Care Package, you can contact Rory-Craig Walker at http://jacarepackages.com/ or to order from Irie Mon Box, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out their website www.iriemonbox.com or Instagram page: irie_mon_box