November - Nardia James
Wanting to protect her child’s future, Nardia James, a JMMB business support officer, alongside her now husband, Kayode, decided to explore entrepreneurship in 2012; as a means of ensuring that they would be financially secure and start planning for their, then, four year old daughter’s university education. Within a few months they were able to move the idea into action, and Kiddi Palace Kids Hair Care Salon, a children’s salon located in Liguanea, was born.
The idea of the salon was inspired by a business plan drafted by Nardia in 2009, as part of her undergraduate programme in Management Studies at UWI, Mona. “The idea”, she admits, “came as a result of my own struggle in getting my daughter ready each morning…I know a lot of parents do not have the time - and parents do not want their kids in adult salons, hearing adult conversations.” As such, Kiddi Palace has become the answer to many a parent’s prayers, also facing a similar challenge as Nardia.
In establishing the children’s salon with her husband, Nardia was also able to fulfill a childhood dream that had been years in the making. “Growing up, I always wanted to own my own business; it was a dream of mine. (Adding, while) growing up I also thought that successful people in life owned businesses and so, since I too wanted to be successful, then I need to become an entrepreneur.” Along with the incentive of a second income and her natural hunger to be successful, Nardia says her children provide drive. “I want to ensure that my children get the proper education that they need, without having to take out a student loan, and to generally provide more opportunities for my children so that they can pursue any dream they want, without worrying about financing it.”
She admits the journey to becoming a ‘momtrepreneur’, while juggling her full-time job with JMMB, has been a challenging, yet rewarding one. Business was slow at first, but being the innovators they were, Nardia and her husband were not worried, instead they were strategic. “We started to do a lot of social media advertising. Additionally, we did an appearance and sponsorship of the Susan Show, in addition to promoting our salon at several schools. The result was that we eventually got requests,” in giving insight to this strategy used. “We went from less than 20 clients to 50 clients per day! Most of these clients have become loyal clients, returning every 2-3 weeks. ” The salon has since become one of the most popular kid's salon in Kingston, catering primarily to children from a year to 17 years; with the exception of a few elderly clients, who also enjoy the experience provided at Kiddi Palace.
Although blessed with the brains to lead the operation, Nardia and Kayode recognised that they did not have the technical competence; as such, they paid keen attention to hiring a competent, efficient and client-centric team, to cater to their clients. Nardia revealed that, having worked with JMMB for almost 16 years, she has a firsthand understanding of the value of exceptional client care, as evidenced by her copping several top awards in this area. As such, she too sought to incorporate and emulate the genuine love and care for her team and clients, which is a part of the JMMB culture. She believes in treating each client with equality, respect and love. “I cater to a fairly wide cross-section of clients and at the end of the day, it is not just about the money, so even if a client is a little short on occasion, I still do a good job, because I want every child leaving the salon looking nice and decent,” she adds.
The JMMB team not only influenced the culture of Kiddi Palace; they also served as ambassadors of the salon, with team members taking their children to the hair salon for grooming and also sharing on social media, with family and friends. Nardia admits that, “I was pregnant with my son at the time, when I decided to start the salon with my husband, Rockanne (Clarke-Crawlle), my manager, was very understanding and adjusted my working hours to allow me to better balance my work-life, while pursuing this new venture.”
In addition to providing the necessary financial advice daily to help individuals to achieve their goals, during her 9-5 at JMMB, this dream chaser also encourages individuals to go after their dreams and believes that all the hard work will be worth it. Although juggling four roles daily can become daunting for her, the unassuming Nardia would have it no other way, smiling, “My purpose is to help people.” Having found her calling in helping others, she is happily living her best life doing the things she loves; as the saying goes, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”