By Avia Ustanny, Outlook Writer
Jennifer and Lloyd Samuda, married for 28 years, say that they are rarely apart. - Norman Grindley
PIPED STRAINS of 'Be still my soul' supersedes the gurgle of the fountain which is the centre of the garden-like spa at Jencare Skin Farms on Hope Road in Kingston.
Walls the colour of sunshine guard a spacious, air-conditioned foyer where black and comfy leather chairs await all visitors. There are books and magazines aplenty and for the curious, one wall displays the numerous international awards which Jennifer Samuda has received for her work in skin chemistry and cosmetology.
Jencare is the elite skin care centre which offers facials, body massages, electrolysis, skin laser treatments, waxing, manicures, pedicures, wart removal, leg cellulite treatments and other services which are complemented by a sauna and deli.
Jencare is, most of all, famous for a line of skin care products for black skin developed by Jennifer Samuda, which are now marketed worldwide.
Lloyd Samuda is the not-so-visible half of the Jencare partnership which has given Jamaica an international name in beauty care.
At their new location, his office is big enough to turn somersaults in.
But, Samuda has no time for that. The full-time administrator of Jencare oversees business operations, has a staff of 30 and also travels frequently abroad with his wife on product research and marketing activities.
Sixteen years ago, Lloyd Samuda left a very promising career in agriculture and project management to dedicate himself full-time to the family business. His wife also left her job in banking to do the same.
Their relatives were scandalised at the move, he recalls. "They asked how could we leave our good jobs for something which was so uncertain," he recalls.
Samuda, a graduate of Church Teachers' College, the Jamaica School of Agriculture and the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, had a passion for agriculture which led him to become well-trained in the area.
Jennifer Samuda, in the meantime, had entered the field of banking after leaving St. Jago High School where she had met Lloyd as a teacher.
They were married in 1976.
The couple started manufacturing skin care products in a 12x12 room at home as Jennifer's co-workers began asking her for what she used on her skin that was obviously so effective. Mrs. Samuda started courses in cosmetology, too, and soon her services as a skin care consultant were in high demand.
With the explosion of the commercial possibilities of the venture, both Samudas decided to open Jencare Skin Farms at Red Hills Road.
Lloyd resigned from the Caribbean Council of Churches where he was project officer, after a previous stint with the Jamaica Community Development Foundation.
He recalls, "At Red Hills Road we expected to do only facials, but soon we were doing manicures, pedicures" and a range of other services too. The couple were offered more space in the mall and expanded into the spa setting for which Jencare quickly became famous.
From 1,200 feet of shop space, the spa spread to 6,000 square feet, but "over time we could not add any more features," Lloyd stated.
The current location on Hope Road, said Samuda, is a dream come true, as now the spa is a world class with a room for every specialty, as well as private rooms.
In order to purchase the Hope Road property, the couple had to dispose of several investment properties which they had bought in the early days. It was heart-breaking, said Samuda, but it had to be done.
Today, the castle-like creation with its tropical garden setting is beautiful to behold. According to Samuda, it is the result of the creative imagination of his wife and Marvin Goodman and Associates.
Jencare, he states, has benefited from the constant desire of Jamaicans to have somewhere to relax and be pampered, no matter how difficult the economy has become. They have also been able to tap into the Jamaican markets abroad.
Samuda never uses the word 'I' in his conversation about his marriage and business. The word 'we', instead, occurs in every other sentence.
Together, he and his wife are an inseparable unit.
The former project officer said that his wife's ideas are so 'real' that all he needs to do is to figure out how to implement them.
"We have not copied anybody's skin care products. My wife has travelled the world in doing research and has formulated products related to the needs of women and men who live in our climate and for our skin type.
"We get tremendous assistance from European companies which know that we are not a threat to them."
The couple's son, Michael, was instrumental in establishing the Miami branch of Jencare, even though he is a lawyer. Their daughter, Petagaye, is a postgraduate student in chemistry who has hopes of going on to do Dermatology.
"When she has completed her chemistry, we are sure she will help in formulating new products," her father says.
Lloyd Samuda admits that he and his wife have always worked very long days, but that by the time the business became commercial Michael was living abroad and Petagaye was a fifth form student at Campion.
The children were also very involved, always suggesting to their parents to do this or that.
Lloyd Samuda states that his marriage has never come under pressure because of business issues. "We were always together. It is on the very rare occasion that we are apart."
The couple travel together constantly, both for business and pleasure. Their last trip was the annual visit to Italy for research on new equipment and products. They also made a stop in London.
On an ongoing basis, Lloyd says, "We spend a lot of time talking about the direction in which the business is going to go."
He comments, "The most important thing in a marriage is to communicate ideas. Both of you should see yourselves at the same level and at the same time recognise that growth can take place at the level that you are at."
Samuda, who grew up in St. Elizabeth, says he is a simple man at heart with a love for simple pleasures. Although the days when he and his wife would find a party every Friday night (Pricilla's, Chasers, Mingles) are gone, they still drive out to the country from time to time for relaxation.
Discussing the possibilities of the future, he said, "What I would like is for the business to grow to the point where Jennifer can leave it so we can go travelling. There are many places in the world that I would like to go. I would move to Austria tomorrow. The greenery, the hillsides... it is a fabulous country, just like Jamaica."
Jennifer Samuda strolls into his office and comments, "Lloyd is my friend. He is my all. I am able to give as much as I give because of the kind of support he gives to me. I am not distracted by anything else."
Lloyd Samuda, still in his chair, smiles in acknowledgement.