There are currently many second generation Barbadians in the UK who, through sheer ability and ambition are flying our flag with great distinction.
Barbados TODAY met Annette Clark who fits the aforementioned classification. Born in South London in 1977, the daughter of Vincent and Onelle Clark of Sandford, St Philip moved to Barbados in 1985. She attended Queen’s College before completing her formative education at the Barbados Community College where she won an Exhibition Scholarship.
Clark chose and was approved to study at the all women’s college Murray Edwards (formerly New Hall) at Cambridge University. Murray Hall is reputed to concentrate on the education of outstanding young women and that, in itself, speaks highly of our scholar.
After graduating in Law, Economics and Computer Science the QC alumna chose a career in finance and began at the top of the banking and investment world. An initial period with the Swiss conglomerate Union Bank of Switzerland proved very successful and resulted in an approach for her to join another Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse. Clark grabbed the opportunity to enhance her reputation and remained there for almost ten years until moving to leading bankers, JP Morgan.
Her employment with JP Morgan was relatively short-lived and therefore it begged the question as to whether or not she grew tired of the hectic city life or did she see the dawning of a new and exciting career?
Perhaps she should speak directly. She said: “Whilst my career in the City was challenging, successful and rewarding, I was not totally satisfied with the direction in which I was going. I became impatient because I wanted to create something of my own. The success I had was under the umbrella of established companies. I wanted to put down my own footsteps, something of which I could be justifiably proud and moreover, leave a legacy for my children.”
Clark chose to enter the highly competitive world which deals with a myriad of hair products. I wondered, inquisitively, Cambridge University, city investment banker, how does one get into hair products from there? I might have known that the ever ambitious Clark would not go for the ordinary.
She chose to make her own products. They are handmade with the genesis of their creation lying firmly in grassroots Bajan products. I observed that these were certainly not Chinese inspired. Produced in her laboratory in Bromley in south east London, they can easily be classified as organic. Clark said that the main benefits are that they enable one to retain growth whilst minimizing hair loss.
The marketing and sales aspects of the business have been encouragingly positive. Currently 50 per cent of the business is export-driven to the US and a further and significant portion has a market in the European community.
However, the orbit of this fledgling empire is not one dimensional and there are facilities for aromatherapy for those who have a need. I began to sense that there was more to come from this remarkable lady of the rock and I was not disappointed. The company also specializes in trichology, a profession that deals with diseases and disorders of the scalp.
So where does Clark go from here? Does she have further ambitions in the UK or does she intend to return to Barbados? Here her national pride came to the fore. She said: “I always have Barbados at the back of my mind. I would love to do business there. Sadly, it has proven to be very difficult, as a matter of fact, seemingly impossible. I do not understand why these barriers are in place.”
Clark is very emotional as she looks to the future. She is filled with passion and an ambition to create something meaningful and lasting. She looks beyond the horizon and sees no barriers but acknowledges that there is a lot of work to do, something from which she will not dodge. She recognizes that there is a need to have many more distributors from across the globe if her dreams are to become a reality.
Clark has set her bar very high, and I asked her what, outside of a commitment to her two daughters and a son, motivates her as she rises in the morning. Is there a mentor, real or imagined who has propelled her to this point in her journey?
Clark picks up the question with some enthusiasm. She said: “I am very connected to the ethics of a good family life and I choose my father as my champion and inspiration. His motto, Carpe Diem (Make the most of every opportunity) is etched in everything I do.”
The young entrepreneur is fully hinged to her ambitions and says that failure in business would be a denial of a proper inheritance to her children. Currently her daughter Izzie is studying Social and Political Science at Girton College, Cambridge University and son Christian and daughter Ari are still at school.
Clark is a shining example of the brilliant second generation Barbadians who live in the UK and are proud to be known and seen as Bajans.
The future is bright.
Details of Clark’s enterprise can be found at www.almocado.com and her boutique is open in Woolwich (SE18) Friday and Saturday. Telephone 0203 633 3449.
Vincent ‘Boo’ Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired Land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and the disapora.
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