Interviews

“Your network is your net worth” – A Conversation with Entrepreneur & Chef Alaila-Lee Lawrence

A Conversation with Entrepreneur Alaila-Lee Lawrence
Written by Xavier Murphy

Meet 22-year-old Entrepreneur and Chef, Alaila-Lee Lawrence the founder of  Clovesz the manufacturer of sorrel drinkable light bulbs. It is an all-natural, Jamaican hibiscus flower (sorrel) beverage and the first ever drinkable light bulb to the hit shelves. This refreshing drink comes in three delicious flavors: Original Kingston, Montego Mango Bay, and Treasure Pine Beach. Brewed and bottled on Long Island, NY, the company operates out of the Stony Brook University Business Incubator in Calverton, NY and was founded in 2017. Here is our conversation with Alaila-Lee Lawrence,

Q: What is your connection to Jamaica
My connection to Jamaica is through my grandparents and mother.  My grandparents came to the United States in 1968 looking for better opportunities. My mother came here in 1987 seeking a better life. They were raised with West Indian values and it’s literally embedded into who I am. It molded me into an individual who has a spirit of endurance, innovation and loves good food. The beautiful thing about Jamaica is she inspires people from all walks of life. Everything from Jamaica flourishes and is blessed. I’m proud that I can represent the mighty island and that she runs through my veins. Everybody loves Jamaica and I’m so blessed to be able to identify as a product of an island that is known to influence the world and across all forms of different cultures be appreciated. For example, you know that feeling you get when you’re in a foreign country and you can hear a song by Bob Marley or any other famous musicians playing in an establishment and in that moment you’re like, “Wow my people are amazing”. You know that sense of pride as if you’re the proud parent, I resonate with that feeling.

Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
Both. I’m a business person because I took a traditional drink as an existing idea. It makes me an entrepreneur because I took a traditional drink idea and innovated it with flavors and designed an eye-catching bottle.

Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business?
My grandfather motivated me to go into business. When he came here he opened a Jamaican restaurant, grocery store and the first shipping company in Orlando to ship to the Caribbean islands. When school would let out in New York I would go down for the summer and my grandfather would always bring me to shop and I would learn to do different things in the shop.

Jamaican hibiscus flower beverage

Clovesz – Jamaican hibiscus flower beverage

Q: Tell us about your business?
My business is a Jamaican beverage company as of now specializing in sorrel drinks. We plan to expand to more than just beverages with other products. Our drinks are in retail stores, online, and we cater events with our mobile bar.

Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big break”, whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
Clovesz has had its big break locally in Long Island, NY we were on the cover of the business section in Newsday. Nationally we haven’t had the big break yet but it’s coming. Hi Good Morning America, Hi Beyonce, Hi Oprah.

Clovesz - Jamaican Sorrel Drinks

Clovesz – Jamaican Sorrel Drinks

Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Currently, my biggest business challenge is not being able to be in multiple places at one time. From picking up ingredients, responding to emails, dropping off orders, to making inventory.

Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?

It’s fulfilling for me to know that each hand-filled light bulb is going to be appreciated by a customer because most people appreciate craftsmanship. The fact that people trust and are trying my product when they see it is encouraging.

Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
I stay motivated daily by keeping positive people around me who are chasing their dreams as vigorously as I am. I believe in the saying that your network is your net worth. To have a group of people that believe in you, want the best for you and keep you in their prayers are essential for your business. You aren’t going to be at 100% all the time and there will be down periods. Remembering why I started and who made that happen.

Q: How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
I just want people to know that their life’s journey is the greatest project they will ever work on. So take your time & create magic, no one is on the same path so don’t compare your journey to anyone’s. I want to remind them that every day is an opportunity to improve one’s self and to influence others in a positive way. It’s imperative that we as individuals seize each opportunity to grow and impart whatever we learn into younger generations so they can learn from previous experiences. To encourage them to not only become productive members of society but to be trailblazers and to be a light wherever they go.

Q: How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
Staying true to my vision is how I remind myself of what’s important.

Q: What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
I wake up at about 6 am or 7ish each day. I’m starting to get into a routine as the business grows.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes, I like to play tennis, travel, cook/bake when I have the time, and just like to live life.
I also enjoy listening to old-time songs like If Only You Knew, Midnight Train to Paris, Voice of the Heart, and I Hope You Dance just to name a few. I listen to one each day.

Q: If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the business sector, what would you do with yourself?
I would become a gynecologist maybe so I could deliver babies and be an advocate for women’s health.

Q: Seven days, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
 Dubai

Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is…
What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is I never feel guilty about pleasures…

Q: My favorite Jamaican food is…
a Jamaican patty with coco bread.

To learn more about Clovez see the following website and social media pages:

 

About the author

Xavier Murphy