By Admin. Updated 10:14 a.m. Saturday, March 6, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Vinelle Matthews’ journey as an entrepreneur started in 2018 with a school project.
In her final year at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College – Division of Technical and Vocational Education in the Agriculture program, Vinelle needed a product.
So, she went back to her roots to find something she could connect with. That’s when Camara Tea was born.
Vinelle said she grew up on the tea as a young girl and the taste of the tea and the availability of the plant from which the tea is made influenced her to conduct further research into it.
“I did the research that I needed to do and I found out how to make teabags and after I did that, I found out the benefits of making tea from this specific plant,” Matthews told One News SVG in an interview.
She added that she went to the Department of Agriculture to get more information about the plant used to make tea – Lantana Camara, known commonly as ‘Buddy me eye’.
“I found that it is good for colds, flu, and it is a natural sweetener,” she added.
Two years later at age 20, Vinelle supplies the local market with packaged tea bags with increasing demand.
She said the response from her customers so far “has been very good”, adding that ” everyone who bought or tried the tea fell in love with it from the get-go because they say you can use it with milk to enhance the flavour of it”.
She entered the tea market, which according to Statistica.com was valued at over 52 billion U.S. dollars globally in 2018, and is expected to rise to over 81 billion dollars by 2026. Vinelle says she hope to expand her small business.
“Eventually, I want to start off making different types of tea. Currently, I am only making one tea. Eventually, I want to open a tea shop where you would have different types of tea,” she told One News SVG.
She says one of her main challenges is packaging. “I am trying to source right now, better packaging and while I get that out of the way, then that will be good,” she said.
In terms of her favourite moments so far, she said one of them is being featured on the Bank of St. Vincent 2021 calendar.
“Around 2018/2019 I said I want to be on the Bank of St. Vincent calendar and in 2021 I got the opportunity and I’m featured as Miss January, so that was one of my very high moments.
As a female entrepreneur, Vinelle said this journey “means being my own boss, being empowered, showing people as a black woman in society, I can make something of myself even though I’m just 20-years-old I can still have a successful business”.
To her, celebrating International Women Day is a way to encourage more females into leadership positions and to be entrepreneurs.
“I think we should have more training programs just for women, intimate woman-to-woman programs. Have successful business women in St. Vincent coming together, talking to young persons like myself or teenage girls who are interested in business and show them the ropes,” Vinelle said.
She said that when she becomes successful, she plans to run training programs to build capacity among young people in business and business strategies.
Vinelle is also an administrative assistant for a local project and loves the beach, craft making and interacting with new people.