Growth & Jobs | J’can barbers open salon in the Cayman Islands
Three years after winning the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle, barber Damayo Riley has realised his dream of having his own salon. Riley opened his salon, Corporate Images, along with fellow barber Andrew Taylor, who placed fourth in the 2017 staging of the competition, and his cousin, Shantol Williams, in Bodden, the Cayman Islands, in July.
Riley, who up until January managed a salon in the territory’s capital, had always dreamt of establishing his own operations and was preparing to launch it, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Cayman Islands government to impose restrictions which affected movement.
“When I left the salon I managed, I did my research and found that I could establish another salon which could provide quality service to both corporate and regular persons,” Riley related. “I started a mobile service and then, in discussion with Andrew, whom I have been in contact with since we met during the competition; and my cousin, we decided to open a salon. However, before we could launch it, the COVID-19 pandemic started to affect the Cayman Islands in March, hence we were forced to postpone (the opening).”
Corporate Images is a full-service salon which offers grooming, skincare, make-up and manicure and pedicure for men and women of all ages. The salon caters to government officials, professionals, and persons from all social strata.
“Patrons enjoy our service because they can make appointments even outside of regular hours. There are days when we work as late as 10:30 p.m.; or open as early as 6:30 a.m., to accommodate a client who needs our services,” Riley noted.
Williams added that the team was working to build its brand.
“I have always wanted to work with a great team with talents and skills. I believe now is the right time for the Corporate Image team to build our brand as a complete salon,” she said.
Although they enjoyed a successful opening, Riley and his partners had to wait four months for the opportunity to launch their operations because of the curfew imposed on the country to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“During the lockdown, we discussed what types of service we would offer,” Taylor, who migrated to the Cayman Islands last year to work in the hotel sector, related.
Riley and Williams also spent time learning about current trends in the industry.
“While my cousin was registering the salon and doing online courses, I enrolled in an online barbicide course about how to sanitise my salon, especially during the pandemic; and how to keep clients, myself and my team members protected. I also kept up with the news to know what was going on, as it would impact when we opened,” stated the former Bellefield High School student.
Both Riley and Taylor credit the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle for giving them the exposure and knowledge needed.
“The competition taught me a lot and gave me significant exposure,” explained Riley. “People here in the Cayman Islands often say to me, ‘I saw you in the paper’, and want to support us because they know that we were the winners of the JN competition; therefore we must be good.
“The competition also helped me with time management, savings and investments, as well as ideas about the types of service we could offer,” he added.
Taylor indicated that although he did not place in the top three, the exposure he received was priceless.
“I used to have the poster they gave us during the competition, with our images, over my workstation in Jamaica and here in the Cayman Islands. People recognised me from my photos in the newspaper and supported us,” he explained.
Gillian Hyde, general manager, JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL), affirmed that the idea behind the mounting of the competition was to unlock the talent within Jamaica’s beauty industry and provide support for its members to become successful entrepreneurs.
“Since our first competition in 2015, the JNSBL Barber and Beauty Battle has had many success stories, based on the information that we endeavour to impart annually. The entrants are taught about entrepreneurship, savings, investments and sanitation,” she said.
“I am proud that two of our past entrants have taken the bold step to become entrepreneurs; and we are confident that Riley and Taylor will continue to excel and make their country and families proud,” she said.
The barbers are already discussing the possibility of employing more persons. They also plan to open additional locations across the territory.
“We want to create more opportunities for young people, not only here in the Grand Cayman, but throughout the islands,” explained Riley. “We also want to open locations in Jamaica and other countries where Jamaicans have settled. However, we will not be doing that too fast. We will spend our time to do the research and explore our options, to ensure that we will be successful,” he noted.