You may not be a boss, a manager, or an owner or you may be. You may not be leading a project or a programme, an organisation or a country, but you may be.

Whether you aren’t or you are you’ve worn the shoes of a leader.

Can I prove it? Yes, I can!

Here are a few synonyms for the word “lead”

Escort, steer, pilot, marshall, shepherd, guide, conduct, show

If you’ve ever used any of those verbs for something you’ve had to do, guess what, you’ve had experience with leadership. And you will again.

Sooner or later someone will look to you for guidance, even on the smallest things.

Now, wouldn’t you like to be good at leading? Don’t think about the grand level for now, think about those little things.

Wouldn’t you want to have the confidence to accept your leadership in the moment and help to steer things in the right direction?

Before you get there you’ll have to accept that someone else is depending on you. It’s imperative that you recognise your value in that instant.

To take on the task of leadership isn’t to be bossy or to know everything. It’s to draw on the experience that the other person is already confident that you have.

Them leaning on you represents their trust that you can guide. And If they can believe it, what's stopping you?

Step up to the task because if you think you’re not a leader, think again. Prepare yourself to be a good one.

It’s imminent. In 2020 there are some big decisions we have to make in the Caribbean.

2020 has been an epic year. The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly caused human beings everywhere to focus on one thing it seems. It became everyone’s problem.

It’s rare that any single struggle or catastrophe becomes everyone’s problem. Usually, a bunch of us get to sit back and watch it on the news, donate to show our support, or send up pity prayers for “those poor people”.

This time is more surreal. With coronavirus, we’ve watched the experience that we’ve all had to share.

Then in the U.S., a series of violent and more subtle racist-driven crimes have erupted a movement. Again, it seems a global phenomenon.

And right here in the Caribbean, we have big decisions to make amidst all this change.

I’m not just talking about improving healthcare, timing the reopening of borders, re-imagining tourism, mainstreaming remote work, or simplifying requirements for e-commerce vending.

I’m not just talking about introducing financial education at every level, prioritising regional cooperation for economic benefit, or introducing a regional digital currency.

I’m talking about bigger decisions that include all of those things and more. I’m talking about decisions to change a philosophy of dependency and a shift to interdependency.

I’m talking about acknowledging that our own island status quo and economic norms aren’t working. They still rest on an old plantation economic system.

I’m talking about how greater numbers of our populations must become owners of something valuable and not just renters, leasers, labour, and borrowers.

Can we NOT race back to normal pleaassee!!!

Since change is already upon us. Let’s look it in the eye, let’s grapple with it. Let’s make some “protocols” to ride the wave of change to new territory.

In the Caribbean, let’s have our own tough conversations about race and privilege, and let’s educate for innovation and wealth creation not for herd mentality and debt creation.

Caribbean people let’s do anything BUT normal.

Change is here. Let’s step out of our hum-drum routines and act to create more change for greater things, for better ways to live.

Updated: Jun 10

How many fine artists in Barbados do you know who have made a steady living from their craft? If you know more than five (5), give me a call.

Now, how many fine artists in Barbados do you know who have deliberately gone about building a business model and created a successful business before age 30? Not many I'd guess.

But Shanika Grimes, founder of Artist Made, is one of them and I had the pleasure of interviewing her for episode 5, season 3 of the Backstage with Bajan Brands podcast. Like many of my younger interviewees, it was her social media presence that introduced me to her work.

She’s bubbly, she’s bright, she’s clearly always working on her craft and isn’t shy about promoting her children’s art classes, custom mural services, branded handbags and now virtual services.

She’s also not shy about showing off a quirky, artsy personality and a sheer love of life. But along with all that Shanika has a clear sense of what it takes to ensure a stable and successful business.

Did I mention that she got financing to build her own art studio? Well, she did and yes, that happened before she reached age 30.

Prior to reaching this stage, Shanika explained that her pursuit of art was a pretty "romantic" endeavour. But, as with many things, it took a life-changing event to create a shift in that perspective. She explains what happened in the clip below.

I asked Shanika to tell me a bit more about the services she offers and she had this to say:

“ main base for my services is acrylic paint. I use acrylic paint on bags, for handcrafted decorations, I paint handmade signs, I paint murals and really technical... portraits and detailed paintings as well. I also do custom projects based on customer requests that fit my technical ability because I can sow and I can paint. So there're some little quirky things that people ask me to do…”

Interestingly enough, she started out with carving but quickly realised this wouldn’t be sustainable for her:

“I can carve as well, but the turned over rate on such an item is very slow. You know the production cost is high. The turnover rate is very slow, convincing a Barbadian to buy the time it costs to carve is a really hard sell, especially with my age. And there is a type of branding that comes with your age because older artists do get a certain level of respect in terms of pricing as well. So I considered all of these things. Even though I'm noteworthy, I'm still very young as a brand. So I can't demand a certain price point on certain sizes of items because when someone's paying for a mural, It might be a little costly, but the size justifies the price in a way. For a carving, you might end up with something like this (gestures to show a small size) that took a week and then how are you going to pay your bills or convince the customer to pay for that?”

And what’s the story behind the studio that she built? She explained:

“I was doing a commercial rental of a very tiny 10 by 10 building over by the Mill. There were complications in terms of where I wanted to go with my business and that space and when I considered my options in terms of another commercial rental at a larger space the price points are through the roof. So when I did my number crunching setting it up this way I think they call this like a cottage industry where you have approval for a residence and the studio but right now I just did the studio first to see where we'd go.”

Artist Made was already a Bajan brand going places but since COVID-19 new opportunities have presented themselves. As always, Shanika is excited about the prospects and has wasted no time in executing new ideas.

Check out the full interview with this dynamic Bajan arts entrepreneur here.

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