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April Jackson Tells All (Part 2)

Published:Monday | November 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM

It's a dilemma most aspiring Jamaican businessmen and women would appreciate. You have just returned to your office and your assistant informs you, you missed three calls: Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump. You only have time to return one call, text the second and email the third. Who do you choose?

"Simple!" exclaimed the former Miss Jamaica UK and Miss Jamaica Universe-turned-businesswoman, April Jackson, who spoke with Outlook in London recently.

"I would immediately call Richard, text Simpson Miller and send Trump an email. Life is too short to ponder. I need to sit with people who are serious about business, and Branson is the man. As for Trump, I don't believe we share the same ethics; business is also about compatibility."

Though not sharing much about experiences being on the 11th series of the BBC reality show - 'The Apprentice', but the 5'11 Jackson is a true game player who believes "you have to be in it to win it." And since exiting the show, she has launched her London eatery and boutique, Three Little Birds.

business boost

"'The Apprentice' was not what I thought it was going to be. I did, however, enjoy meeting all the candidates. They were great," said Jackson, who originally entered the competition to try to secure a £250,000 investment from Lord Allen Sugar, one of Britain's most successful self-made millionaires.

"I am a fan of the show. I wanted to experience and the opportunity to feel what it was like, and I also felt it would enhance my business by providing a platform to boost my business awareness and get people through my doors.

"I wanted to raise my profile. I feel like a tourist everyday in the UK where business, marketing or networking are concerned. In Jamaica, I know exactly who to go to for any type of business exposure. I also hoped being on the programme would have been like going to business boot camp, enabling me to learn about business from different industries," Jackson said.

Born in London, Jackson moved to Jamaica as a child, and while here, began her journey into entrepreneurship. Despite being back in the land of her birth and winning the Miss Jamaica UK title, Jackson says she doesn't feel British.

"I don't really consider myself British, aside from my passport. Jamaica made me who I am. Being raised in a country where you feel there are no limitations because you're black is a huge thing. Living in Jamaica gave me the confidence to take on the world," she told Outlook.

"You are never asked on a form in Jamaica to identify whether you are a black, white, Chinese or Indian. You are a Jamaican. There is something extremely powerful about not having to box yourself to fit in or be confined. There are so many societal limitations growing up in the UK, I would never know the head of Barclays Bank, but I would know the equivalent in Jamaica. These things are priceless," explained Jackson.

Now 26, she started an events company in Jamaica.

"Starting my entrepreneurship journey in Jamaica gave me the confidence to do it anywhere in the world," she said. The bilingual Jackson said she is always mindful of showcasing the best of Jamaica because people often regard the island as either a ghetto or a beach - nothing in between.

"We continue to get great coverage on people like Usain Bolt and his achievements, so the more we can show different sides of the island, the better."

Usain Bolt

Asked to set the record straight on the rumours that circulated regarding her having intimate relationship with the popular track star, she promptly responded, "No, I consider Usain as an acquaintance, I have a lot of respect for him. I met him in 2008, and contrary to other things said, I admire him greatly. What he has done for Jamaica is amazing and I salute him all the way."

She revealed that he was the subject of her final paper for her creative writing course at Colombia University.

"When I told my class I was interviewing Bolt, they were shocked and thought I was joking. I reminded them I am Jamaican, and although we are big in spirit, we are a small island."

Speaking of entrepreneurship, she cites her businessman father as her hero. She does not think people realise how lonely a path entrepreneurship can be and there are no partners to bounce ideas off.

"Everything is on my shoulders, but I lean on my dad a lot. Without him, I wouldn't be able to do it, I've learnt a lot from him."

Insisting she's not the traditional beauty queen, Jackson revealed she is not into hair and make-up, she said she obtained her apprentice wardrobe thanks to her sister, who was committed to seeing that she represented the Jackson name, Jamaica and authentic businesswomen.

And she is entirely focused on making Three Little Birds a success.