Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer
PICTURE THE nation's children hyped on snacks that were actually healthy for them, and then imagine a factory of hundreds of empowered women helping to make these nutritious snacks. Push your imaginative abilities even farther and picture this product boosting the economy significantly and becoming a global name.
Difficult to envision? It shouldn't be, because this concept has already been realised by a young woman passionate about promoting health and Brand Jamaica with her LiqyLiq popsicles and more.
A trained educator, Sasha Palmer started her business just a month ago, out of a need to offer healthier alternatives to snacks for children and adult.
"Due to the high rate of obesity that is currently in Jamaica and the sugary treats that are being offered to our children that have no nutritional value; corn syrup, additives, artificial colour and all of those things and knowing the importance of good nutrition, learning and development not only in children, but as a nation, I saw this beautiful opportunity to use vegetable, fruits and herbs to make these products," Palmer told Rural Xpress.
With her nine-to-five job as an education officer taking her to several locations where children are seen daily eating unhealthy foods, Palmer thought there must be a healthy alternative and so her experiments began.
"I started experimenting with local produce and found fun ways children and adults could enjoy desserts. Prior to this experiment, I had completed a course to perfect the craft of sorbet and gelato making at an overseas institution," Palmer told Rural Xpress.
With her loan application to start the business declined, Palmer later threw caution to the wind and used all her savings to transform the downstairs section of her home into a mini factory and secured equipment to carry out her task.
Having over 50 popsicle flavours available from produce supplied by 15 contracted farmers islandwide, LiqyLiqy also boasts all-natural products with no preservatives or additives, a gluten-free line, a vegan line, a no sugar line and the opportunity for customers to customise the delights needed.
Some of the products available include sorbet pops, sorbet, gelato pops, gelato, greek yogurt pops, gelato cakes, gelato cookie sandwich, Italian ice, gelato cupcakes to assorted desserts with avocado, citrus jackfruit and starapple flavours.
"Our products are handcrafted to perfection. We take pride in ensuring consistency and efficiency. For us, it's more than a product, it's about the experience. Our soft launch at Denbigh and our display at Kingston Kitchen and a sporting event at UWI (University of the West Indies) recently really broadened our customer base and we can proudly say we have moved from hundreds to thousands tasting our products, enjoying the experience and giving great feedback" said a proud Palmer.
EMPOWERING SINGLE MOTHERS
Currently offering full-time employment to two individuals, Palmer is expecting to increase that number to 150 by next year and up to 500 in the next five years.
"One of our objectives is to empower single mothers by providing them with employment and so a significant number of my employees will be single mothers. We also want to move up from not only offering wholesale delivery, but to also becoming available on the retail market with a strong presence of several LiqyLiqy boutiques islandwide."
Palmer, who uses her business as a means of giving back, says it's no easy task working two jobs, but knowing that it is benefiting several persons gives unspeakable joy
"There are several opportunities for persons who are like-minded. It doesn't matter where you are and where you're from, if you have passion to make a change, then it can happen. Surround yourself with people willing to work, remain focused, and never give up."