“Mummy, you should sell this and become a millionaire.”
These were the words that led Shanice Prince to start her own business.
A registered nurse by profession, Prince, who lives in Signal Hill, Tobago, is the owner and founder of the family-run business Tom Tom’s Local Confectioneries.
She told Newsday it began with a chocolate fudge recipe that a family friend shared with her .
“I learned to make the fudge by one of my ‘second mummies’ – her name is Beverly Black-Williams. She sells these at the (ANR Robinson International) Airport.”
In 2016, she launched her own venture, producing what she described as the “creamiest, smooth-textured, melting-in-your-mouth old-fashioned coconut-flavored fudge.”
Tom Tom’s manufactures and distributes Tobago indigenous sweets, but it’s no longer limited to coconut fudge. She also makes bene balls, sugar cake and red mango, to name a few other goodies.
A past student of Scarborough Secondary School who is completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, Prince said: “Tom Tom’s coconut fudge is already a hit. I put my best foot forward into making it and my customers enjoy it.”
The mother of three boys, she said the business was named after one of her sons, and is her way of leaving a legacy for them.
“Our business is profitable at this time. Our business helps take care of our family.”
Its name comes from her second son, Jadon: “’Tom Tom’ is his home name.
“Jadon is the one who inspired me to start this business. He was like, ‘Mummy, why don’t we sell the fudge? Mummy, you should sell this and become a millionaire.’
“The idea was a good one, and that is how Tom Tom’s Local Confectioneries started.”
She said over the years many doors have opened for the business.
“I think that it’s more than just Tobago’s sweets. Persons who long for it, who used to live here, who visited here, and they go back – they always ask about it. So I wanted to open a business where it can go beyond the shores of TT, where we can export.
“When you walk into lanes in Brooklyn and these stores, you see Zoomers, you see all kinds of TT snacks, but my whole aim is to get Tobago’s indigenous sweets out there as well.”
In Tobago, her products can be found at Farouk’s Mini Mart in Signal Hill, all branches of Pennysavers and View Port, and RT Morshead, as well as various other shops and minimarts.
She has also participated in events such as the Trade and Investment Convention (TIC) and Tobago Day in New York.
With Tom Tom’s now making a name for itself, Prince is satisfied and ready to take Tobago’s indigenous sweets around the globe.
“We have set goals for this business, and our main goal is for all our customers who constantly ask us about shipping to their various countries to be able to see our product on shelves near you, both locally and internationally.”
Tom Tom’s has reached the shores of the US, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, various Caribbean countries and “most recently...all the visitors that visited our island for the Commonwealth (Youth) Games, as they were gifted sample packages to take back, courtesy Tom Tom’s.”
She said Tom Tom’s has seen remarkable growth through marketing both directly and indirectly.
The business has caught the eye of Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, who tasted the sweet delights at a pop-up trade fair.
Prince has also collaborated with other Tobago entrepreneurs to travel as a group to market their products.
“We are now undergoing training that will prepare us for exporting, in the very near future. This training is under Export TT.”
In 2022, Tom Tom’s was given a boost through the US government’s AWE, which she said helped her to reposition her products for the tourism industry at a time when visitors started to return to the Caribbean after the covid19 pandemic. She is an alumna of the first TT cohort of Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).
“AWE was a beautiful experience. It pushed me to think beyond where my business was, to where my business could be and reach people where they are.
“Tom Tom’s started getting a lot of exposure, a lot of orders, for things like weddings, or orders from families living abroad coming home to Tobago. It was so much we had to bring on two new employees.”
Tom Tom’s has gone through and is still in the process of food training.
“We have received certification from Cariri in product standardisation, good manufacturing practices, and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points). Our products have also undergone microbial testing.
“These trainings have allowed us to produce the same products each time with the same great taste.”
Questioned about family support, she said: “My husband Akimola Prince, and my three amazing boys are very supportive.”
Asked what she has to say to women who dream of opening their own business, she had a clear message: “Place them all before God and allow him to direct your path. Everything we have is because of him. Don’t forget, faith without work is dead. You must work on those dreams.
“Do your homework, and don’t backpedal on your dreams. You have to believe in yourself and what you have learned and use it to build new relationships and smash all your goals.”