King of Carnival
KANDI KING has a face and body fit for prime commercial spots, and a personality that exudes positivity and glamour. At a glance, the television presenter may be seen as someone who lives life to the fullest, being a delightful social butterfly who has been an absolute favourite of social photographers across the region, hence appearing on most popular social-media sites. However, would you believe that this is work?
King humbly describes herself as an entrepreneur. Having lost her job in 2013, there was a need to find meaningful employment to sustain herself. The corporate space was no longer for her and so she searched for something that would not only put food on the table but would also be something fulfilling.
The ‘soca junkie’ decided to be a part of the rich experience of carnival in Trinidad and was shocked at how difficult it was for her, especially as a foreigner and a first-timer, to make her way around and score the tickets/passes or make the list to the premium events. And there it was ... she became a carnival concierge creating her own business, Karnival by Kandi.
Karnival by Kandi has a three-member team that services Trinidad, Jamaica, Cayman, Barbados, and Miami. As the respective seasons approach, King and her team arrange flights, transportation, accommodation, costumes, makeup, and entertainment for both locals and foreigners. In the beginning, many frowned upon her business, saying carnival was seasonal and so it wasn’t a smart decision. However, with five carnivals under her umbrella happening at different times of the year, King was covered.
With goose bumps punctuating her skin, King described that it is the unexplainable joy and satisfaction that comes from her masqueraders having the ultimate carnival experience that makes her job worthwhile.
“It is not easy,” she expressed, “you have to ensure that persons are well taken care of and are safe.” She further explained that it is indeed a tedious task arranging the different packages, as more often than not persons require customised packages. “ It’s not like we can get a bus and ensure that everybody is on because people have different interests and go to different events.”
Karnival by Kandi has grown tremendously since its inception, as the first year she catered to 30 persons and this year saw her catering to 150 persons in Trinidad, and she will be bringing 100 foreigners to Jamaica for carnival 2017. Though her business has significantly trimmed her actual fêting, she has no regrets as she shares the overwhelming joy of her clients.
In 2016, King got a chance to add to an already great experience. She got a business proposition from the soca entertainment industry in Jamaica. Quite impressed by her expertise, Bellamy realised that she was the perfect business partner. The union gave birth to Xaymaca International – out of many, one band.
Now, Kandi is living her dream as, with the help of her partners, she can now offer a complete package. Beaming with pride, King shared that it was very important for Xaymaca to be extremely inclusive because everybody needs to get a chance to live the carnival experience. It is important for individuals to understand and appreciate that it is not merely putting on a costume and gyrating on the road, but it is a time for persons to let down their guard and get lost in the sensual beats of soca, interspersed with timely drops of dancehall in good company.
PERSONS CATCHING ON
Appreciative of the suggestiveness and creativity of soca music as well as the feeling of togetherness on the street, King is quite pleased that the heavyweights in the entertainment industry are now buying into the carnival experience, which has a positive impact on the nation’s economy. Though seasonal, persons are employed, bookings in the hotels are increased, and there is the opportunity for Jamaicans to showcase their rich culture. She does not view the other three bands on the road as competition, she is excited about the fact there is a place for everyone on the road on April 23.