Sun | May 1, 2016

Finding comfort in Pillows

Published:Sunday | February 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Leonard Smith and his bags of pillows at Kingsway in St Andrew on Thursday.- Photo by Robert Lalah

He's quite a merry fellow who can often be seen lugging bags of handcrafted pillows around Kingston and St Andrew.

His name is Leonard Smith and he's the proud maker of, by his estimation, the most colourful, soft, sponge-filled pillows available in Jamaica today. Making pillows by hand is an art that, he says, is slowly disappearing, but one which he insists he will never give up.

"I've been doing this now for about 25 years, you know. A long, long time," he said, standing on a narrow sidewalk along Kingsway in St Andrew, his bags of pillows tied to a utility pole behind him. It's obviously not the most convenient spot for anyone - motorists, pedestrians, even customers - but Smith said he wasn't planning on staying there long. It was just a final stop in a day full of moving around.

Smith said that while factory-made pillows from places like China and the United States have become more popular over the years, his business is actually picking up.

"I suppose a lot of people still like the real handmade pillows. They feel better, give more comfort," he said, smiling.

"In any case, when you out on the road, it is more convenient for people. It's easier for people to buy these pillows when they are passing than to go in a store and wait in line. Factory pillows don't give me any competition."

Smith purchases the material to make the pillows in Kingston. It doesn't take him very long to make them, and he sells a pair for $2,000.

"I love what I do, you know. Many people turn away from making pillows because it takes work and time if you are not an expert. But I not giving it up. People like quality things and that is what I make," he said.