Conversation with Tricia Williamson, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panache Jamaica Magazine

Tricia Williamson is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panache Jamaica Magazine (PJM). She is a graduate from the University of the West Indies, Mona with a BSc in Biochemistry and minored in Computer Science. At that time she also served as the President of the UWI Camera Club, one of the oldest photographic societies in the region. She is an award-winning photographer, having won awards and honours at the annual JCDC Visual Arts Competition. In 2007, her business Panache Jamaica Magazine (PJM) won the JBDC Best Business Plan Award at the Digicel Business Young Entrepreneur’s Challenge in Jamaica. In November 2009, she was awarded a CARICOM scholarship to the University of New Brunswick, Canada where she is currently enrolled pursuing her Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship (TME) Diploma. In March 2010, she becomes the CEO of her new company Panache Communications Inc., LLC under which Panache Jamaica Magazine and future titles will be published. Tell us about Panache Jamaica magazine?

Tricia Williamson (TW): Panache Jamaica Magazine TM (PJM) is currently a digital bi-monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine with a 60-page serving of the Caribbean’s best young fashion designers, a melting pot of music and entertainment, beauty from industry experts, delightful contemporary Caribbean cuisine from across the islands, and photography from award-winning talent in the region.

PJM is the online oasis for fashion and lifestyle in the Caribbean. It’s so good; you wish it were in print!

Panache Jamaica was established in 2007 and is a registered publication with the Companies Registrar of Jamaica. We proudly have over 54,000 readers with our archive of digital editions powered by and available to experience at

Plus there is more good news! To satisfy the demands of our readers Panache Jamaica will be expanding our portfolio into print in 2010 as we also celebrate our 3rd year anniversary.

In 2007, the magazine won the JBDC Best Business Plan Award at the Digicel Business Young Entrepreneur’s Challenge in Jamaica. In 2009, the magazine was nominated for Best Fashion Magazine Cover by the Caribbean Fashion Awards and in 2010 will be included in the Digital Library of the Caribbean as a leading publication representing the island of Jamaica. Why did you start the magazine?

TW: At age 12, my first magazine consisted of pink neon cartridge paper and magazine clippings from JET and Ebony magazines. It was a fusion of music and fashion and I still remember the name too… I called it MUSHION (laughs). I had only one sample and the readers were my classmates, but the reviews were very good.

I have always had the need to create and throughout my life it has taken shape in many forms- at one stage it was designing handbags for my ShiShiMiTM collection (laughs…Don’t ask why I even called it that!) to traditional black and white photography during university where I just fell in love with the darkroom and was somewhat addicted. Brining me to present day where I can really have it all in the magazine- from the fashion to the photography.

Next up will be an AICIRT Collection…of what, I am not entirely sure just yet but I know it will be good.

Inspiration also came from my parents, my family and friends who on a whole have supported me over the years and I especially give special note to my Mom because she is such an example as a lady, a woman, she inspires me every day and it’s that kind of love and support that fuels the energizer bunny you really do become in order to survive this business or any for that matter.

My parents owned and built their successful business from scratch- Williamson’s Diary Enterprise. So from day one, I was always passionate about owning my own. Coupled with that I have always loved magazines and after a while wanted one from the Caribbean that spoke to me but could also compete anywhere on a global stage. I should be able to drop it on a shelf and the quality and appeal should be just as good as any Vogue, Essence, Glamour or other title. What are the goals of the magazine in the future?

TW: Our goals for the Panache Jamaica magazine are primarily in the long term to be The Leading Caribbean Fashion and Lifestyle Magazine. In the short term, we will expand our portfolio from digital into print  coupled with the formation of a new company Panache’ Communications Inc., LLC that will we can increase our titles on the market. Apart from the magazine how are you involved in fashion in the Caribbean?

TW: I live it, buy it and support it, particularly the younger designers that are not yet as established. Shop Caribbean! Support Caribbean!
One of my favourite handbags is from Caribelle Batik  that I bought last year in St. Kitts & Nevis; I love jewelery from Reve Jewellery here in Jamaica; coupled with a designer collection of All Wet Beachwear bikinis and Havaianas rubber sandals. I have also met wonderful people as well, for instance Karen de Freitas Fraser with SOKA in St. Vincent and the Grenadines who will soon be in SAKS in New York is another favourite and her design was also featured on our cover that was nominated for a Best Fashion Magazine Cover award from the Caribbean Fashion Awards. What is the biggest misconception about Caribbean fashion?

TW: That it is all cut from the same cloth. At a fashion show, someone commented on why a certain designer was creating leather jackets pieces, which in itself left me in awe….since last I checked people- Caribbean or not still travelled worldwide to regions of varying seasons.

 It is no different than the perception of some that Bob Marley equals Reggae music. And this is in no way taking away from our great icon, but that perception exists. Several occasions persons have commented that they never knew a magazine of Panache Jamaica’s caliber could come from the island.

So it is just on us in the industry to open their eyes, one pair at a time. Tell us the most enjoyable interview you did for the magazine?

TW: The interview with Tarrus Riley does stand out. He is fun and has an easy going, engaging personality and can hold a good conversation. Tied right up there with him would be Shaggy at his recent charity concert, you can learn a lot about a man in a few minutes on one of the most important nights of a year in his life. I learnt that, he is a man who love to be on time and on schedule- so shame on all the Platinum rollers with the deep pockets who had him waiting for an hour- but thank you and all the attendees for your donations nevertheless. What is the best part of running your own magazine?

TW: The people you work with and meet as you go through each issue. It is also personally satisfying and great to see your goals come to life. Plus it’s not bad for the social life and lets you explore a side of Jamaica and the Caribbean that not many people get to experience.

Finally the ‘own’-ing part is not bad either. What are you most proud of about the magazine?

TW: It would have to be the progress over the years and its relevance and resonance with people worlds away. There is a debate that to have a successful fashion magazine you have scantly clad bikini wearing women on many of the pages. You don’t. Did you make a conscious decision to do this?

TW: Where do you find these debates? (Laughs) Different magazines have their market and appeal to their respective audiences.

Like that Ad campaign on television for that drink, you know the one, with the well endowed lady in black….you do not need to have many scantily clad bikini wearing women to be successful … you just need one- which we plan to have on our next issue as we gear up for summer features on great places to visit.

I cannot speak to what other magazines define as their measuring stick of success however there is a conscious decision to have Panache Jamaica magazine deliver high quality content, be on time, satisfy and surpass the expectations our readers and generate returns for our advertisers while still maintaining the vision of Panache Jamaica to be the leading fashion and lifestyle magazine from the Caribbean….that has and will continue to drive Panache Jamaica’s success. I saw the recent issues on “full figured” women. What is your take on the debate that more models should look like “real people” and not toothpicks?

TW: Toothpicks don’t read a magazine like Panache Jamaica, real people do. To be honest I’m not sure that it is even a debate. I can pick any four of my friends, and will guarantee you that none will be like me at 5’8”, 125lbs and dark chocolate skin. Each woman is her own person and we are conscious of the body image we put forward by PJM needs to be reflective of all…from “full-figured” to the “slim-n-trim naffi go a gym’s. Tricia with a title like “Editor-in-chief and Founder” can I call you “Head cook and bokkle washer” because I know that is what you really do…DWL?

TW: (Laughs) You can throw waitress and hostess in there too for kicks. Well, I have done what I needed to, to ensure that the business, which first began as a sole proprietorship for the first 3 years will now grow to form the company Panache Communications Inc (PCI) Limited.

In those early years, I designed all the websites- progressing from html to flash to content management systems, did design and layout, the marketing, the advertising. But this was not for want of becoming an octopus (laughs). It was necessary at that stage to keep overheads as low as possible while learning the ins and out of the business.

Now that Panache is bigger and better. I am always seeking to bring on board the best people, like our Director of Photography- Roger Jones – whose work is outstanding, and that not only believe in the vision of Panache Jamaica abut are willing to work as a team and grow with the magazine. As “Head cook and bokkle washer” what is your typical day like?

TW: A typical day starts early with prayer, Jay Z/ Alicia Keys and breakfast. Afterwards I set the priorities of the day/week, meet with Director of Photography, Roger Jones, and we discuss our areas of focus and Photoshoot. As the day progresses there is discussions with writers and contributors that includes article reviews. Meetings with sales on advertising and with marketing on future marketing.
Panache Jamaica operates on a virtual office model, so from Blackberries to Skype to Email to in person sit downs. The team of writers, photographers, sales, etc amounts to fifteen persons worldwide and we all just work to get it done and we co. What is the one technology tool you cannot live with out?

TW: My Blackberry.  Since I went BB, I have never touched another phone, namely… my Motorola again. It’s not just a phone, it’s a lifestyle. What is the one technology tool you can give up?

TW: Several Facebook applications (not the network itself of course)… it’s beginning to remind me of hi5 just before everyone migrated to Facebook. It is very annoying the many things you have to clean off your wall each time you log in. They need to make a condom for that, because not all have a BLOCK option. If I asked your friends to describe you in one word what would it be?

TW: Talented. Any words of advice for anyone thinking of publishing a fashion magazine?

TW: Do not be blinded by the glamour and glitz…remembers it is all a business. Therefore, like any business, you need to know your market, your readers; competitors- do your research and know your product inside out. For general information has a wealth of resources to pull from and is a good place to start.

However, if you can have a talk with persons already in the industry, they can offer excellent insight. Though in my experience, the information was at times guarded and hard to come by, so it required getting creative and applying for jobs even when none was advertised to get that sit down I wanted.

Most new businesses are strapped for cash, which means one thing; the Internet will become your new best friend. There are stigmas attached to any new business that is online, less than five years and lacking the right connections here in Jamaica. However, there is opportunity to be seized, look at the market- when advertising revenue fell by over 35% in the magazine industry in the US, closing down hundreds of titles… and driving the development of digital software and tools you can use to start.

Remember to register your business, file your annual tax returns and protect your intellectual property! 

There is so much more I could say from my experience, but go out and research, then if you still have questions, drop me a link. Thanks for the interview. Any final thoughts?

TW: Well I sincerely thank you for taking the time to interview Panache Jamaica and I encourage everyone come out and subscribe to PJM and get 20% off the price plus be entered to win a Blackberry Bold 9700 and Photoshoot from PJM in September 2010!

Also if you are interested in being featured in Panache Jamaica Magazine, and we are not limited to fashion- send us an email to [email protected]

Nuff Respect and walk good everytime,