Triscilla Joseph-Myers, 32, owner of TJM Designs is grateful for the sewing tutelage she received in Grenada, which has allowed her to open her business. Born in Calder Hall, Joseph-Myers spent most of her life in the Spice Island, which she refers to as her second home, as Grenada is where she learned to sew and earned her education.
Joseph-Myers believes getting into entrepreneurship was inevitable, even though it was not her goal initially.
“Firstly, being confined to conventional work schedules and expectations is very restrictive, and any creative person will tell you that. I am a creative by nature and something will be made whether I planned it or not," she said.
Joseph-Myers, who works full-time as an employee with another company, said she's been involved in several fields before opening her own company.
"As an adult, I’ve dabbled in baking, sewing, planting, web-designing and many other creative fields. Most of the things I’ve made was meant to be gifts and from there other persons wanted something like it. Most people offered to pay me for my creations and services, and there my business unofficially started. However, I’ve been registered as a small business since 2015.”
Her creations now fall under TJM Designs, which has garnered interest locally and internationally.
“I’ve been sewing since primary school days. I grew up in Pa George tailor shop in Grenada. I spent all my free time and school vacation in the tailor shop making school uniforms and sewing Christmas curtains. He relied on me to help with clothing design ideas for people who weren't sure what style they wanted. He always encouraged me to take this creative part of me seriously but I didn’t. I went on to study psychology as my first degree but here I am many moons later, back in the sewing game.”
Joseph-Myers said her goal at TJM Designs is to bring to life an idea for a product a customer might have.
“Since starting my business, I’ve had tremendous success and encouragement. I’m never out of a customer and never out of work to do and I’m truly grateful for that. Currently my business is mostly custom-made bags and accessories which includes handbags, duffels, backpacks, wallets, clutches purses, hobo bags…I aim to create what the customer wants.
"People are always surprised to hear they can tell me what their specific needs are for the bag and I will try to accommodate that for them. I really want my customers to connect with their piece, treasure it and keep it for a long time, like we used to years ago. When something is uniquely yours, you treat it differently.”
Joseph-Myers said she is interested in building a brand and not just selling a product – an initiative which, according to her, takes time.
“I am in no rush to grow overnight because that affects quality, and I aim to maintain a high-quality product, so I opt to grow slowly.”
She noted that one of her greatest challenges has been finding people to employ who share the same ideals when it comes to quality of product and production process, Another obstacle is that 90 per cent of her raw materials have to be imported and this is not cheap.
“I also have major problems exporting my items out of Tobago at a reasonable cost in an efficient time, because most shipping options cater for bulk items and the cost of shipping one bag can sometimes be half the price of the bag itself.
“Having international customers means there is an expectation of international shipping standards and that has been a huge stumbling block for my business, but I have learnt that if you give your best, put passion into what you do and the right people will appreciate it. I have retained my international clients despite the shipping challenges and I am truly grateful.”
Joseph-Myers said she could stick to using items that are available locally, but she demands a certain quality and that means buying the right products.
She said one benefit of being an entrepreneur is that you get to set your own standard.
“You can set your own work time, but it should always be on time, as not everyone has the self-discipline to open on time and close later than the rest. As an entrepreneur you learn things along the way that you probably may never be exposed to as just an employee in someone else’s organisation.”
She said it still thrills her to see and experience the sheer joy of a customer receiving and using their product, which she describes as the most gratifying aspect for her.
“I get honest feedback from my customers, even if it seems like a bad review. I treasure feedback as currency because it the most important part of helping me grow my business from strength to strength. I’m not in this to please myself, but my customers.”
Joseph-Myers mostly works from home as her products are custom-made.
“We communicate in a medium that is convenient to them to come to an agreement on what they want exactly. The product can be collected, delivered by hand, or shipped both locally and internationally."
Describing herself as resourceful, creative, and persevering, Joseph-Myers said she is able to manage her current job, which she declined to divulge, and business simultaneously.
“I have the most understanding and supportive managers, an extremely flexible work schedule and most importantly, when I go to work, I leave TJM at the door and I do the work I am employed to do. I don’t market my business or respond to anything TJM related when I'm on the clock.
"I was honest about my personal and business goals when I started this job because growth in my business is just not possible if I'm pouring all my energy into someone else’s. Not every manager or organisation cares about their employees personal goals and so I am blessed. Our goals aligned and it is a fruitful relationship for both parties.”
Asked what advise she would give to anyone wanting to get into business, she said, “Always do the best and don’t settle to be on par with others around you. Try to be original; don’t copy what is already there; take criticism and improve as you go. We all start at the bottom and we are not all there yet."