Gary Parrish turns ‘Granny Seh’ quotes into thriving business
When Garry Parrish's cable business failed, he lost $10 million but not his burning entrepreneurial drive.
He created Garry's Concept and under the trademark 'Granny Seh' has been producing some unique and authentically Jamaican gift ideas. Parrish provides inspiring and motivational proverbs and quotes that have their roots in the Jamaican cultural experience and these are placed on a variety of souvenir items such as wall plaques, scrolls, aprons, pot holders and refrigerator magnets. They were recently on display at the third staging of the Institute of Jamaica's (IOJ) heritage festival held at the entity's offices, 10-16 East Street, Kingston.
Parrish, according to JISNews, first started writing quotes as inspiration, after his failed cable business and $10-million loss. The first quote was "Faith doesn't work for people who let go easily, but it is ideal for those who are determined to hold on". This quote is now on a refrigerator magnet with artwork depicting a man hanging on to a rope above a pond with a crocodile lurking below.
After the failed cable operation, Parrish started a restaurant, where he would display his proverbs. He said his customers always looked forward to his 'thought for the day' and some even asked him for the name of the book from which the quotes were taken.
"My customers were far more into my quotes. They loved the food, but I would get more compliments about what I wrote. The customers would take pictures or write down the quotes," he said with pride.
"I didn't know that this was God telling me that the direction that I should go is writing. I write prayers," he said.
After leaving the restaurant business, Parrish registered Granny Seh, writing inspiring words for every situation, often with a twist of humour. The top-selling items are the fridge magnets, which bear quotes such as "Not because pastor giyuh church key; that nuh mean it can open heaven's gate" and "If you think it's painful to hold on to a hot iron, try and hold on to cold love".
Granny Seh also offers recipes for Jamaican fruit cake, coconut drops, sorrel wine, rum punch, ackee and corn pork, ackee and salt fish, and salt fish rundown on plaques.
Parrish, who has a passion for writing, said that he could look at a picture and the words would come.
"It is a very unusual talent and I use it to the best of my ability. For instance, the first time I saw a picture of a lion online, I wrote, 'Don't always expect gratitude from the people who you are generous to'," he says, "meaning that being kind to a lion does not exempt you from being on its menu."
Another humorous proverb, "Granny Seh you can't use puss to watch fish", advises persons to be careful who they place in certain jobs/positions.
"A lot of people think that my writing is like throwing words, but when God gives me a talent, I can't water it down. I will go to bed and I will sleep and I would wake with words to write, so this is just my God-given talent," Parrish notes.
He said that the quotes, which come with illustrations, have been translated into English, Spanish, and French for visitors to the island.
"When I do something, it is done properly, and anybody in Jamaica who is going to a country where Spanish or French is spoken, they can buy the product to take as a gift," he points out.
The items can be found at Things Jamaican, Sun Island, and Fontana Pharmacy and other pharmacies in St Andrew. Parrish said that he was looking to export his products and has approached the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) for assistance.
He said he would also be going overseas to promote his business.
Parrish said that the growth and development of his business are centred on the core values of faith, perseverance, and integrity. He said he intended to continue using his "God-given talent to change and influence lives".
His vision statement is: 'Preserving our rich traditional food, culture, inspire and motivate, competing among world-renowned writers and making a name internationally".