Jamaicans.com senior writer Stan Evan Smith talks to Ethnicfaces, a young Caribbean multimedia company creating a name, carving out a niche market while climbing the ladder of success.
SS: Your company offers for sale, photographic images of places persons and things of mainly Caribbean origin, for variety multimedia services, how did you determine there was a need and market for what Ethnic Faces has to offers?
EF: Working in the advertising industry put me on the front lines of image vending – it was next to impossible finding images relevant to our Caribbean ethnic context. All local agencies had the same experience. Even racially relevant shots were out of context. So we figured we’d fill the gap.
SS: How do you hope to compete with larger more established company that offers similar services?
EF: We fill a niche market. At present our volume isn’t a large as the leading sites – but our content is very unique. We are currently preparing the next batch of shots which will include Caribbean landscapes, food even currency and more.
SS: Is your target market exclusively Caribbean consumer or do you service non-Caribbean clients?
EF: We target anyone who needs ethnic or tropical imagery. We also know that African markets will find our images appropriate as well. But as long as there is a need we’ll fill it.
SS: Explain how you acquire the rights “Creative Media” images; is it through licensing deal with the image owners?
EF: We shoot our own ‘in-house’ images and license photographers work as well.
SS: Do Caribbean photographers register with you for the “Artistic Talent” segment?
EF: Sure. If a photographer is interested in displaying their images on our site they can just contact us and make the arrangements. We hope to expose the photographer’s work as well as sell it.
SS: You cover a wide variety of the Caribbean experience with the images you offer from business to Caribbean expressions to lifestyles, does Ethnic Faces get a chance to define in some way the look, feel and images of what being Caribbean is?
EF: Sure. At present all the shots were created by our staff and we will continue to build our own library of images along with our partners. We also get a chance to offer images of real Caribbean people – not just ‘tourist stereotypes’.
SS: The fact that you are Caribbean do you see this as giving you more authenticity to do this?
EF: Indeed. We understand our culture best. But it is ever evolving and we also have to keep learning not just about Jamaica, but other Islands as well.
SS: What are ethnic faces and why did you decide to start the company?
EF: Ethnic Faces are non-Caucasian people. The leading image sites primarily target white North American markets – they have more than enough images. We intend to provide images for all the other racial groups. We saw the need to provide services for the other markets out there and take advantage of a growing industry.
SS: What made you decide to form the company?
EF: It was always a dream for us to have a family business. Myself, Ronald, Colin and our cousin Winston did just that. If not this then something else – but we intend for this to be a great success.
SS: Do have specific demographic audience you target?
EF: We target Ad agencies, marketing companies, independent graphic designers, as well as photographers and artists who want to sell their work. We also target people who want to model and get their face out there.
SS: What does each of the principals in the company bring to the table in terms of expertise what are their backgrounds?
EF: Colin and I are advertising professionals and bring our knowledge of what the industry demands as well as some creative direction. Ron is a lawyer and takes care of all the legal affairs but is also the real business and marketing mind. Winston is an ace photographer with a very creative eye – he is the ethnicfaces.com photographer.
SS: Do Ethnic faces appeal to people outside of the Caribbean Diaspora?
EF: Sure, but naturally it depends on your market. We believe the African market will find much to gain from ethnicfaces.com
SS: What kind of support have you received from the Caribbean community thus far?
EF: We’ve gotten great support from all over. People have stated that we should have this long ago. Now it’s begun.
SS: Obviously financial success is your objective, are there any other objectives you would like to accomplish with Ethnic faces?
EF: Creating a successful, world renowned, top quality Caribbean brand. We hope to announce to the world that the Caribbean is the place to find the best of whatever you want – First class, first world.
SS: Why should the public consumer be interested in Ethnic faces?
EF: There’s much to gain. You could be the next ethnic face, the next supermodel or simply find it to be a helpful source of income. You could be the next great photographer and see your shots displayed all over the world. Ethnic Faces may be the place that puts you on the world map.