Jamaicans in Business: Souad Lawrence, co-owner of the YEBO

Souad Lawrence is co-owner of the YEBO brand which is a signature Jamaican product.  Souad and her cousin Natallie Moncrieffe, had mutual passion for handbags started YEBO in 2010. Their focus was on two varieties of bags; Totes and Clutches. Since then they have introduced fashion jewelry. There business is run primarily through their Facebook page.

Souad holds a Bsc. in Communication and Information Technology and specializes in Computer Graphics and Design. She has expertise in the craftsmanship of luxury accessories for ladies, and has developed proprietary artwork utilizing natural materials incorporating exquisite designs.  Her work also includes costume designs famously showcased by top ranked groups in the artistic community; including the Stella Maris Dance Ensemble.
Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
I am definitely an entrepreneur. I am always finding ways to create and reinvent ideas. My creative mind is always conjuring up things and transforming them into business ventures.

Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business?
My parents! They are such remarkable individuals. I aspire to emulate their success. They have always encouraged me to be my own boss. The wisdom they have imparted is so invaluable. Their encouragement and continued support is what drives me to push harder.

Q: Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
Starting a new business in Jamaica is always challenging. It’s not an environment that aids and encourages self-made minds. Through a lot of persistence and a strong support team the challenges weren’t deterring.

Q: Tell us about your business?
YEBO means ‘Yes, all is well’ in Zulu. We fell in love with the word and decided to dub our brand with a name that represents positivity.
YEBO is a brainchild formulated by two young ladies with a passion for handbags. It was through our mutual love for handbags that the idea was born to create a product rich in quality, captivating in design, while still maintaining affordability. Our bags are locally manufactured. We are 100% supportive of local craftsmen as we strive to invest in Jamaica. We have big plans to expand our product line before summer of 2013. (Inside scoop: It’s time to cater to men)

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?
Our big break happens daily I believe. Every time we make a sale and our customer is excited about it or each time we randomly see someone sporting our product it feels like we’ve hit the jackpot. That feeling never gets old.

Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Getting our local people to embrace and accept the value of a locally made, Jamaican indigenous brand. We get an overwhelming support and love from foreigners who appreciate Jamaican expression without that commercial feel. In my opinion I don’t think Jamaicans understand the importance of brand Jamaica.  A real role model for me is Bridget Sandals. I aspire to emulate her success as a Jamaican business that got it right.

Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
Fashion designing in general is a fascinating industry. There are no set rules or guidelines; the only limitation is your imagination. The industry is very accommodating and welcomes all creative expressions. The most satisfying part is the challenge of transitioning from an idea to something tangible and having people embrace your vision.

Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
I believe in a concept called “thoughts become things”; the more you desire something is the higher your chances become at achieving them. I have a “vision board” ; it has all the things I want to achieve in this life. Every day I add the dreams I want to make a reality. It keeps my brain focused on what I want and subconsciously the visual representation of it, pushes me to work hard in attaining what is necessary to achieve them.

Q: How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
Motivating people is one of my many God given talents.  It is easy for people to share your vision if you believe in it concretely. When you radiate success and positivity people will always be drawn to you and will be much more receptive of whatever it is you are trying to impart.

Q: How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
I think of a task and focus on the favored result. I constantly think… outcome. In everything I do I apply my fathers “outcome” strategy. What is it you want to achieve? How can you achieve the outcome you desire? There is a Zen proverb that says “If you want to climb a mountain begin at the top”. This way of thinking helps to keep you grounded on what is important.

Q. What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
No. I don’t have set daily routines. Some days require an early bird other days afford you the luxury of clutching onto those few extra hours. But, being self-employed is serious business. A day wasted is a non-profitable day and as a self- employed individual you cannot afford to have too many of those days. So time management is very important.

Q. Do you have any hobbies?
I have a thirst for knowledge. My biggest hobby is Google. There is so much to learn and absorb from this world. I am lucky enough to live in this information age where all the data you need is right at your finger-tips. Designing, painting, exercising my imagination are a few others.

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 simply create another opportunity. I am a thinker the business sector will always have room for me. Life is full of challenges, and disappointments all of which I welcome with open arms. It helps to keep your mind engaged and constantly reinventing yourself. Discovering creative ways to revamp, overcome and rise above the ruble is how you play this game successfully.

Q: Seven day, six night, all-expense paid, my vacation destination is…
ITALY! I love opera and it would be my heart’s desire to sit in a Roman amphitheater in Verona and witness a live performance. As well as to: Gondola ride in Venice, eat pizza in Naples, visit the Vatican, experience real fashion in Milan… Seven days just wouldn’t be enough.

Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Food. I am always on a conquest to discover new food places and share my experiences with my peers. I am often the “go to person” if you are hungry. Creating a food blog is on my list of things to do. Look out for that new sensation!

Q: My favorite Jamaican food is…
Stew Peas (*whispers* with pigtail)

Q: My favorite Jamaican restaurant is…
Helshire Beach; Aunt Totties. Her fried lobster and festival… is something extraordinary.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to achieve the same level of success you have?
Never leave out God. Believe in yourself. Think outcome. In all things give thanks. Find at least one thing in every day to be grateful for. READ; keep informed. Don’t underestimate the power of the human experience, all people no matter their position in life add to your life; be respectful of that. Always strive to overcome and find ways to reinvent yourself. Evolve as a person. Find your passion and make it your job and you will never work a day in your life and…Get a vision board!
Thanks for the interview. Do you have any closing thoughts for our readers?
Thanks for taking the time to read my feature. I hope I have inspired you in some way.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well” – MLK Jr
… No matter your calling; there is no job too inferior. Always strive to be the best.
Visit the YEBO facebook page.