Contenders in this year’s New Product Showcase category of the just concluded Barbados Manufacturers Exhibition (BMEX) are beaming with excitement after getting the opportunity to introduce their new products to consumers over the weekend.
Every year, for the past three years, the organizers of BMEX, in an effort to facilitate the development of new products, provide a space dedicated to new products where operators have the opportunity to introduce their goods to the public and compete against each other for a prize.
This year was no different as four companies – Healthy Fruit Juices, Specialty Shakes, Kaiso Exotic Blends and Eastlanders Manufacturing Barbados Ltd – tossed their hats in the ring for the top prize and to create market awareness of their products.
Last year, Shanika Grimes of Artist Made, was the winner of the New Product Showcase category for her hand-painted handbags and purses.
Managing Director of Eastlanders Manufacturing Ltd, Gerald Bryan, told Barbados TODAY the exhibition was “a great one” for him as there was “very positive response” to his products.
Bryan, who has been in business for the past 20 years, sells a range of leather shoes, belts and bags. He used to be in the shoes business a few years ago but got out after experiencing some setbacks. But he said he just had to come back.
He said BMEX was the opportune arena to re-launch his products with production due to begin in June.
“There was this fire burning within me saying you have to do this. This voice kept saying ‘Gerald, you have to get back in this thing’ and I kept saying ‘no!’ There were a lot of challenges in getting restarted but I am pleased to say today that we happen to have the factory set up and ready to manufacture. I am positive and passionate that I can make it this time,” Bryan said.
“Going through the fire in the past taught me a lot and I can say that I have gotten stronger now,” he added, reporting “a number of orders” coming out of BMEX including one from Lady Loretta Belgrave, wife of Governor-General Sir Elliott Belgrave, who toured the exhibition on Saturday.
Bryan’s advice to local entrepreneurs: “Don’t give up. Keep the faith despite the obstacles you might face from the system”.
Operating Manager of Healthy Fruit Juices, Relina Coward, said BMEX turned out to be everything she expected. Her new product is a soursop leaf iced tea. She also sells a range of juices.
“The customers are liking the product. So that is a good start,” said the BMEX first timer. She pointed out that the decision to make the soursop product came from an idea she got one day while lying in bed. This, she said, was coupled with her desire to expand her product line.
Coward has been in business just over two-and-a-half years. She said the business environment has challenging over the years “but it was a good challenge because it kept me moving forward”. “We already have a manufacturing location but by 2018 we want to have our own factory,” she said.
Denniston Shepherd, of Kaiso Exotic Blends, said the exhibition was a welcome experience and they were able to educate a lot of people about their unique blend of liqueurs and premium cream beverages. He said he was satisfied with the results from participating in BMEX.
Owner of Specialty Shakes, Lisa Cheeseman, told Barbados TODAY she was excited to be a part of the New Product Showcase competition. “I entered the Hibiscus Rum Punch. So far, the reception has been excellent,” she said.
Cheeseman said her new product came about because she wanted to do something different with rum punch, using the skills she had from her alternative medicine background. “So I thought about tweaking an already established beverage, which is our rum punch, and I decided to merge the two and this is the result.”
“The exhibition is excellent. You are seeing a lot of innovation and people are trying new things. I think it is an excellent showcase of our local products and the people are very receptive to it,” she added.