Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Woman on the hunt - Romania Hunter showing the strength of a woman

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2020 | 12:00 AMVanessa James -
Business owner Romania Hunter poses for the camera while wearing one of the hair bundles that she provides for her customers.
Business owner Romania Hunter poses for the camera while wearing one of the hair bundles that she provides for her customers.
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When Jamaican reggae superstar Shaggy sang Strength of a Woman, he was speaking about the resilience of the fairer sex, especially when faced with numerous obstacles which she frequently overcomes with a smile. Shaggy could well have been singing about Romania Hunter, who has taken whatever has been thrown at her and made it a positive.

The thriving young business owner explained that her resilience and business mind have been evident since childhood.

“At the age of two, my mother left me with my paternal grandparents in a small district called Kensington, Portland, where we lived, in hopes of finding a better life in Montego Bay, St James,” Hunter said in an interview with Outlook. “Growing up with my grandparents, going to church was an imperative. Not only was I at the Kensington Methodist Church by 9 a.m. on Sundays (well, by 9:30 a.m. since I’m always late), but my older brother, cousins, and I were there on Saturdays for youth fellowship, and scheduled weekdays for practice,” she reminisced.

Hunter described her childhood as peaceful, but explained that there were great expectations placed on her.

“Outside of church, I had a father that placed very high expectations on me as a child,” she shared. “I grew up fortunate, but never spoilt. My family didn’t give me pocket money, so I saved from my lunch money and started my school ‘higglering’, which I loved doing by the way. My dad and grandparents made me work for everything, whether it was by chores, getting good grades in school, or cooking and getting my school clothes ready on the weekends since I was 13 years old.”

This independence led Hunter to start a small business while in high school to make money, since she did not receive an allowance.

“While attending Titchfield High School, I used to sell snacks and phone cards,” Hunter shared. “I used to boil the hot dogs in my friend Watson’s kettle, and I guess that’s where my entrepreneurship started,” she said.

She further explained that she was also fascinated with being a manicurist and taught herself how to apply nails. She then went to the homes of residents in the community on the weekends to do their nails in order to make more money.

Two years later, at age 15, Hunter had to take on even more when she became the caretaker for her grandmother, cooking and cleaning on the weekends while still juggling her hustles, along with church duties. And she was still maintaining good grades in school.

“My childhood had a lot of adversities, mentally and physically, but being able to balance school life and church has really helped me in overcoming obstacles. I graduated with the second-highest grade in Titchfield’s 2010 graduating class with six distinctions, two twos and one three in math,” shared Hunter.

She migrated after high school and enrolled in a community college where she was living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She still had needs, so she drew on her entrepreneurial skills and started selling hair, driving around delivering it to customers and often installing it. She would also do her mother’s friends’ hair and nails. She did all this while going to school full-time in order to pay for her car and other bills.

Hunter describes herself as a “hustler”, a trait she thinks she inherited from her parents, both of who are business owners. Hunter proceeded to start a clothing business while attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“I really started to struggle. All my summer money was used to pay for school, and I didn’t have time to work while in a four-year college institution,” she explained. “I started out taking personal orders for clothes and bringing them to Jamaica on vacation. Then I started buying clothes that was in style and sending them back to Jamaica in barrels.”

Thus, Whatshott Couture was born, but the business’ name was changed in 2015 to Her Diamond Box when Hunter realised that she was drifting from clothes to hair products. She currently has a storefront in Flat Grass, Portland, and provides the option of buying online ( www.herdiamondbox.com or @herdiamondboxja) and having products delivered. Orders can also be made online and delivered in Florida and Massachusetts.

Hunter also tries to give back to her community from what she earns.

“We do quarterly giveaways to single mothers, college students, among others, two of which are geared towards back-to-school, where 10 children under 10 years old receive help with going back to school,” she said. “We also recently gave a free makeover to a college graduate because we try to help our community, especially those in college, because I have experienced the struggles first-hand.”

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com