Former sweetie seller now a UWI graduate
Saidah Denniser has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. During her years in high school, the Kingston resident, realising that her parents were not always in a position to give her all the things she wanted, sold beaded jewellery and sweets to her schoolmates to earn a quick buck.
In 2017, when Denniser enrolled at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, to read for a bachelor's degree in marketing, she agonised about where the money would come from to fund her tertiary education. She applied to the Student Loan Bureau to pay her school fees, but aborted the process after her mother and grandmother took on the responsibility of paying her tuitions.
Despite the reprieve, Denniser knew she had to find a way to assist with day-to-day expenses.
"My friend Jolee and I were talking and we were like, how we ago make some money you know, just for lunch money and pocket money and so forth? And she say you know, you can start do back beaded jewellery enuh. But inah my head me a seh, but who ago buy it. And one mind just seh, just start it and worry bout anything else afterwards. And so said, so done."
The days of selling beaded jewellery dates back to her time at Wolmer's Girls School.
"I used to do the anklets because I saw my grandfather and my uncle make them and sell them in Half-Way Tree. So, I used to do it like one-off, if somebody saw me and say 'weh yuh get dat', I'd say you know is me make it and I'd make it for them and they pay me," she said, while adding that she even sold sweets while she was in sixth form.
Having started her university journey, Denniser invested in her beaded jewellery business, which paid dividends.
"When I started, I got a little Instagram page, I got few persons to follow the page, take some pictures and suh. My first customer I can remember her very, very vividly. She was going to UWI as well and I really, really appreciated her because she really took a chance on me. After that it just take off," Denniser said.
Out of her desire to make more money and to apply what she was learning in her courses, Denniser grew her jewellery business, putting more effort into her Instagram page, @Trendybeadz, and soon after started Datenight.jm.
"To be very honest, I was depressed and I needed to make some more money. Me did a collect some $1,000 and some $500, but did wah collect some $5,000 and some more money, so I did something I was passionate about. I'm a hopeless romantic and I saw persons going out on dates with them two long hand. No effort was being made, so I said you know what, there's a gap so I filled that gap."
Datenight.jm is an Instagram-based company that provides flowers, chocolates, picnic materials and other tools to help people have more romantic dates.
The now proud holder of a BSc in marketing said the love and support of her mother and grandmother, along with some sage advice given to her by her mentor, Senator Damion Crawford, are what fuelled her success.
"Damion Crawford is a very instrumental person for me. He said, in a lecture in 2017, to always think how to make back the money that you spent," she said.
As a new degree holder, Denniser says she is open to the possibilities of life, which she hopes will include continuing as an entrepreneur.