Wed | Dec 11, 2019

Kaylia Ellington - Entrepreneur with a creative touch

Published:Tuesday | January 1, 2019 | 12:03 AMDavid Salmon/Contributor
Kaylia Ellington
Kaylia Ellington
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Kaylia Ellington, the 18-year-old student from St Andrew High School for Girls has combined her creative passion with an acute understanding of financial independence in the running of her company, May’s Sūn.

Just celebrating its second anniversary, her firm specialises in designing jewellery using gems, crystals, hemp cord, handmade beads and an array of other earthen materials. She also specialises in creation of incense sticks and blocks, as well as homemade natural hair products.

The choice of products is a reflection of her earlier interests growing up.

“I fell in love with being able to create things at a very young age, whether it was poetry, visual arts... or even clothes. The feeling of being able to transfer my thoughts and ideas into the atmosphere by creating something constantly motivated me," Kaylia said.

This environment of creativity has been shaped over the years through the moulding of her parents. She notes that her father had always been very accustomed to developing gadgets for either cars or home maintenance. However, it was her mother who introduced her to the idea of making jewellery due to her background of “welding and designing wrought iron furniture and other items like clothing.”

She noted that while her first love is art, she had a Damascus road' experience in the middle of her high school tenure.

“At the age of 15, I came to the understanding that in this world, money has more value than I would like it to... . I had to develop a business mind-set in order to be able to support myself financially.”

She originally did not plan to sell jewellery. Her initial sources of income were from performing, teaching poetry or yoga. Eventually, her friends encouraged her to start selling ornaments instead of only giving them as gifts. This expanded over time to include the creation of incense, candles and hair products.

Said Kaylia: “Eventually, I also became interested in creating my own hair products due to the lack of certain nutrients in a lot of manufactured and processed products for natural hair.”

The road to managing her company was not paved with gold, as she often found it difficult to balance her extracurricular activities with her academic studies. Currently, Kaylia plays field hockey for her school, is a member of the drumming ensemble, the host for her school’s radio programme,serves as a district board member for Key Club Jamaica and is a practising poet. She noted that effective time management is key and she finishes her schoolwork first before doing any external activities.

Additionally, Kaylia also had to cope with a “culture of freeness” contributing to the unwillingness of clients to pay for her products. This was compounded by the initial apathy she experienced from other entrepreneurs.

“The greatest challenge I had experienced was gaining respect and acknowledgement from other entrepreneurs," she said, noting that they either looked down at her age, were disinterested in her passion, or scoffed at her meagre resources.

She did not allow these criticisms to hinder her plans, regardless of the ensuing disappointment. Furthermore, she credited the support of her mother as essential for her success.

“It is so easy to fall into being discouraged but, thankfully, my mother has been there for me and offered me the help that I need whenever I need it,” she said.

Moreover, the Haitian proverb “PitiPitiZwazo Fe Nich Li” which translates to “little by little the bird makes its nest,” serves as her guiding philosophy for both success and failure.

"It makes me understand that I shouldn’t get comfortable but also acknowledge that everything takes time,” said Kaylia.

The lessons she has learned from this experience include ways to utilise her profit, learning what and how much to produce, how to maintain quality or what products give her an advantage against competitors.

She aspires to “build a culture of products that spark change in the way people love themselves,” and endeavours to create a space, which she can brand her own products and sell in multiple areas. 

Her advice for upcoming entrepreneurs “is to not let go of that passion that you have for any of your endeavours. No matter how small you might think your idea is, never be afraid to pursue it Understand that building a legacy, takes making a difference to a handful first.”

For further information, May’s Sūn can be contacted via email at kaylia.ellington@gmail.com.