26 Aug FROM TEACHING TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP – SHENELLE HILLS-FIFE
Shenelle’s trek up the entrepreneurial ladder started early in life “it all started whilst pursuing my Bachelors Degree in Literature in English, Linguistics and Communication at the University of the West Indies. I needed to find ways to help fund my schooling and I did odd jobs on Campus.” She started experimenting with products packed with natural ingredients “whilst residing on campus I developed a passion for making basic products such as coconut oils and cocoa butter to name a few” said Shenelle.
Shenelle started by sharing her products with family and family who liked them! Here’s where her interest peeked “I decided to pursue a course at Export Centres but dropped out almost at the end as it was clashing with my UWI exams.” But because of Shenelle’s go-getter attitude and determination to succeed, she continued to amplify her learnings “ I then pursued a programme with the Ministry of Community Development and finally received my certificate after my fifth attempt.”
But the best is yet to come! “After completing my Degree I landed a teaching job at a primary school; whilst doing that I was going to the green market to retaii my products which evolved into my business – De Jeunesse Bath and Body.” The demand for Shenelle’s products grew insurmountably to the extent that she used to forget she was doing school work and made mistakes in the class. “I used to be writing orders for products on the blackboard instead of school work; eventually I had to choose so I left the teaching profession in 2018 to become a full-time entrepreneur.”
Shenelle’s climb up the entrepreneurial ladder was incredibly amazing! “I was one of the first entrepreneurs to be showcased on Planting Seeds; the owner of Starlite Shopping Plaza – Gerard Aboud liked my products and accepted them into the Starlite Pharmacy. I also got help with the packaging as well.” In 2016, Shenelle also gained entry into the CARIRI Business Hatchery.
Whilst pursuing her degree, she enrolled in NEDCO’s Booth Camp and Pitch Competition. “I captured 4th place and won $4,000 which was my first investment into De Jeunesse; after I left my teaching job, I explored different options to gain business knowledge so I enrolled in a mentorship programme offered by YBTT. I also did blogging for GEW 2018 which was hosted by YBTT.” This was a defining moment for Shenelle as whilst all this was happening she was in an advanced state of pregnancy!
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“I was able to make connections with other entrepreneurs to supply raw materials for my products such as honey from Tropical Hives (Nikita Legall) and cocoa powder from Soular (Michael Parris).”
Shenelle was also grateful for the knowledge gained from Marcus Sun Kow, YBTT Director and Owner of Fresh Start Limited. “Marcus was able to share information pertaining to wholesalers that I was able to connect with to obtain raw materials at reduced prices.”
Shenelle also gained valuable insights from influencers which renewed her vision for her business. “I’m not just thinking locally but regionally and internationally.”
Shenelle is currently viewing her business through renewed lens “I’m in the process of expanding my product line as well as the e-commerce aspect of my business. I’m also aiming to have a stronger online presence that allows for increased exporting of my products to larger countries.”
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