Thu | Dec 8, 2016

The business of being a Marley

Published:Sunday | February 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

"We don't worry about those guys, we just do what we do, 'cause if we worry about them, we wouldn't do anything. We'd just be stagnant. We can't do that." In a 2011 Billboard article, that was Rohan Marley's response to critics who declared that he and his siblings had gone too far in commercialising the name of his late father, reggae legend Bob Marley.

Robert Nesta Marley died in 1981 at the age of 36 of cancer. Up to the time of his death, the iconic reggae singer had not written a will stating who should have control of his estate and ultimately the right to use his name and image, thus a legal battle ensued between the Marley clan, led by his widow Rita, and several entities seeking rights to the singer's estate. After years of legal battle and numerous bids by different companies claiming rights to the singer's legacy, the island's Supreme Court determined that the exclusive right to use Marley's name, likeness and image for commercial purposes would pass on to his heirs. So his widow and all of his children walked away with the rights to profit from Marley's name, likeness and image, and that they have done from the 1990s until today.

Successful careers

To date, although most of the Marley children have gone on to establish successful careers in the music industry, some have opted to set up businesses using the Marley moniker. In 2009, with only 52 acres of farmland in Portland, Jamaica, Rohan Marley established a coffee company known as Marley Coffee. According to a Business Insider article from February 2014, the son of the late music icon said the business was born out of his father's love for farming, as well as the need for him to meaningfully contribute to his father's legacy in a different way, since he was not as musically inclined as his other siblings.

Today, Marley Coffee is sold in thousands of stores worldwide, and although the company is still relatively small, it has raked in millions in revenue since its establishment. Marley Coffee continues to grow pesticide-free coffee under the 'Jamaica Blue Mountain' label, and sources sustainably grown coffee from sister farms in the Jamaican Blue Mountain region, as well as farms in Ethiopia and South America.

With Rohan Marley transitioning into a
budding entrepreneur, his business ventures did not stop at Marley
Coffee, and in January 2012, he advertised a new range of eco-friendly
headphones at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, under
the House of Marley brand.

Although many know her as
the little girl that sang with her brothers in the Melody Makers,
Cedella Marley, like her brother Rohan, also has a few successful
businesses under her belt. The singer hung up her musician hat for a
while to take on the world of fashion, designing and several clothing
lines. 'Catch a Fire', 'High Tide', 'Nice Time Deconstructed', and 'Nice
Time Kids' are just a few of her lines that have gone on to become
international successes.

Her talent and success gained her so much
recognition that in February 2011 it was announced that under an
arrangement with Puma, Marley would design the uniform for the Jamaican
track and field team for the 2012 summer Olympics. Fashion aside, the
eldest Marley also has a knack for literature and the arts. In September
2011, she released her book, One Love, before going
on to release others, including Three Little Birds,
and The Boy from Nine Miles: The Early Life of Bob
Marley
. The former was turned into a musical which has been
touring different cities across the world since its debut last year. Her
brother Ziggy Marley also released a children's book titled I
Love You Too
, which also went on to become very
successful.

The family's latest business venture is
known as Marley Natural and is a partnership with Seattle-based company
Privateer Holdings. The business venture will see Marley becoming the
face of marijuana as the company aims to sell cannabis-based
products.