Oretha Brown – living her dream with Health First Pharmacy
Today, Oretha Brown is the proud owner of Health First Pharmacy located on Muirhead Avenue in Denbigh, Clarendon.
The 34-year-old female entrepreneur reminisced about her road to success with Family and Religion as she shared how determination, good family support and her faith made it happen.
The dream of wanting to be a pharmacist was not an easy one to realise for Brown. She shared that as a child, she was "robbed" of that foundation the was needed to excel in school.
"My parents were no longer together and I recall my father visiting one afternoon after I got home from basic school. He took me - with the consent of my mom - to live with him. That was the end of my preschooling. It hit me hard when I entered primary school and realised that all the other kids were doing well with their lessons," she shared.
She felt like a stranger in the class and cried a lot until a very caring teacher (Mrs Myers) noticed her struggles and enlisted the help of her mother together they worked hard with her until she eventually caught up.
It was that same determination that saw her gaining her bachelor's degree as she admitted having no financial support.
"I had to take a student's loan, as well as worked on my weekends and every holiday to subsidise attaining this degree. Even though my financial status had not changed, I was denied a student's loan in my final year. What to do? Where to turn?"
She had a breakthrough when the same place she was working on weekends and holidays. "Victory Drug Store was setting up a scholarship for a student pursuing teaching, and I convinced my supervisor that it was only fitting to do a scholarship for pharmacy as well being that they are in the pharmacy business.
"Little did I know that I would have been the first recipient of that pharmacy scholarship!"
Brown said she had to deal with failures along the way, such as failing a pharmacy course the second year and being in danger of not continuing for the third year until she cleared the course. She had to use every available option to finish with her batchmates.
NEW TASK TO TACKLE
After overcoming those hurdles, it put her in preparation mode to tackle the task of being an entrepreneur.
With just the dream of wanting to be a pharmacy owner, but with no finances, she leaned a lot on encouragement from her family.
"Finding an institution to finance my dreams of entrepreneurship was very challenging. I came to the realisation very quickly that the traditional organisation has very little confidence in start-ups or small businesses. Even with land as collateral, I was denied a loan because it was not 'prime' property. Nonetheless, I kept focused and sought until I was able to access the monies I needed," she said of her quest to Health First.
Following one challenge after another, she said she eventually got so depressed as her personal finances started to eat up and she was powerless in speeding up the time-consuming paper work that was slowing her down.
"It felt as though I was being punished! My personal cheerleaders were there. I drew strength from my faith in my creator, stayed focused and remembered who I am, how strong I am and what I wanted to accomplish," she said, admitting that there were still those days when she felt discouraged and defeated.
Her strength came from a quote that she remembered and cherished by BC Forbes: "History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats."
Those word plus her 'personal cheerleaders' pushed her through.
"I can still hear their voices: 'remember who you are'; 'something will work out'; 'we'll figure it out", etc."
With her goal now accomplished, she has one more dream, and that is to someday become a mother.
"I think that's one of the greatest responsibilities one could ever have. To be so blessed with another life to mould and care for, I think is really not an easy task. Therefore, even though it's an unfulfilled dream, I will wait on the right time. Timing is key and I want this to be perfect!" she shared.
Brown, who grew up in the St John's Road environs in Spanish Town, is a past student of Holy Childhood High School.