Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Madison’s Accessories & More : Opportunities in Leather Craft

Published:Tuesday | July 18, 2017 | 7:00 AM
A look at one of Carol Badoo's classy leather sandals from different angles.
Carol Badoo is making her clients step out in style.
Carol Badoo (left), shows off one of her sandals to Maureen Hayden-Cater, managing director of JN Bank.
Carol Badoo (left) explains how she makes her sandals and accessories to Karl Samuda, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (right), as Parris Lyew Ayee ( second from right) shairman of the JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) board of directors and Thelma Yong, deputy general manager, JNSBL listen. The occasion was the JNSBL luncheon and board tour at the Jamaica Conference Centre in December.
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Eighteen months ago, Carol Badoo was making craft items, as a hobby. However, constant urging from friends prompted her to become an entrepreneur.

The former practical nurse makes "chic and classy" items at her home in East Kingston. The leather products are "made to order", and customers also have the option to come up with their unique designs.

"From volunteering to do craft work at my daughter's school, I branched out to make sandals for sale, at the urging of a friend," said Badoo. "In March last year, I registered my business and it took off from there."

The company, Madison's Accessories & More, named after her 10-year-old daughter, has been both demanding and rewarding.

"I withdrew from the University of Technology, Jamaica, where I was studying nursing," she states, adding, "And, I have enjoyed making the accessories ever since."

She started making sandals from synthetic material, however, she discovered that using leather improved the quality of the sandals. And, although it is more expensive, her customers prefer the product.

"Leather sandals last longer and the soles are thicker," she explained. "And, if the bottoms of the sandals go, they can be repaired. Therefore, I advise my customers to get new soles if that happens," she explained.

"At first, I retailed my sandals through a store in downtown Kingston, but, sales were slow," she related. "Selling directly is much more satisfying, and allows me to grow my customer base and get feedback from my clients. When customers tell me how strong the sandals were. I felt proud."

Using social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, Badoo reaches customers in Jamaica, the wider Caribbean; and, as far away as, the United Kingdom.

"A pair of sandals can take a few hours to make. The hard part is cutting the patterns to create more difficult designs. At the same time, working alone is a challenge, because I have to meet all the demand," she stated.

Plans to walk into sneakers and shoemaking

She was an active basketball, softball and volleyball player at the club level, but now most of her time is spent meeting orders from customers. When the sandals are complete, they are delivered directly to clients or sent through the post.

"My friends told me that I no longer have any time for them, because I am always working. But, while I try to balance my time between work, school and my daughter, it is hard," she explained.

 

EARLY CHALLENGE

 

Another early challenge was acquiring proper equipment to fill orders efficiently. Therefore, she went to JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL), to explore financing for a sewing machine and a pattern stamp, to improve her production level.

"The process was smooth and the JNSBL staff friendly," she stated. "With the funding, I was able to purchase the additional machinery I needed."

Gillian Hyde, general manager, JN Small Business Loans declared that "Miss Badoo demonstrates that with hard work and dedication, entrepreneurship is a viable career option. We are truly proud of her and will continue to provide her enterprise with relevant support."

Madison's Accessories & More may be a small business now, but Badoo has big plans for its future. She enrolled in a shoemaking course at the HEART Trust/NTA, and aims to increase her expertise in the craft.

"I want Madison ... in terms of sandals ... to become a household name in Jamaica. And, while I am making sandals, I am already planning to expand to produce sneakers and shoes. That's my ultimate goal," she declared.