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Erica shipping to Barbados

Erica shipping to Barbados


After a ten-year gap, Erica’s Country Style products have successfully re-entered the highly competitive Barbadian market.{{more}}

Proprietor Erica McIntosh explained that she once shipped dried sorrel to Barbados but because of the mealy bug infestation that ravaged St. Vincent, trade was brought to a swift halt.

McIntosh has already shipped pepper sauce, ginger-garlic and garlic-onion marinades, mango salsa, pepper jelly and passion-pepper jelly; and will soon be sending another shipment of tamarind marinade.

Her agent there, Hanschell Inniss Ltd, will ensure that the products appear on various retailers’ shelves by early to mid September.

The 20-year agro industry veteran is highly enthusiastic about this latest venture.

“I’m more excited about getting into the Bajan market… than in New York or any other market. It’s an accomplishment because Barbados itself has a lot of hot sauce and a lot of seasonings!”

With the assistance of regional and international agents, McIntosh also has been exporting her products to Tortola (British Virgin Islands), the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany for several years.

Erica’s Country Style line includes hot pepper sauce, all purpose seasoning, dried sorrel, ginger, cinnamon, clove, turmeric, pepper jelly, mango salsa, eddo chips, nutmeg, spicy cocktail sauce, rosemary salad dressing, marinades, potpourri pillows, gift baskets, rum punch and novelty mugs, caps and t-shirts.

And the list doesn’t end there. McIntosh revealed that she intends to introduce a trail mix to the local market by Christmas, and is working on making hot pepper sauces solely from individual varieties. She pointed out that many people don’t realize that there is a wide variety of peppers grown locally, but currently farmers don’t separate them.

“There are a lot of pepper varieties… habanero, West Indies red, cardi green, congo pepper, scotch bonnet… We haven’t started to do the separation of the peppers as yet, but that is my intention.”

Anticipating that pepper sauce lovers would surely be appreciative of this move, McIntosh added: “The peppers have different flavours. If you’re a pepper connoisseur, you will know the difference.”

This well-established businesswoman’s talents are not just limited to her product line, however. She also runs a boat tour operation, dabbles in real estate, runs a health club and is a keen photographer.

“When you live in a small island like this,” she explained, “you have to do a few things to survive.”

With competition in the local pepper sauce industry being so great, and additional pressure from imported brands, McIntosh insisted that it is vitally important for entrepreneurs to diversify if they are to remain successful.

However, it has never been, and still isn’t a walk in the park for this feisty businesswoman. Ten years ago, due to circumstances beyond her control, she suffered a serious setback and had to restart her business from the ground up. And presently, she is trying to combat the issue of locals preferring to buy imported goods over locally made.

“People think – that girl for McIntosh has money… We don’t need to buy from her. But it’s more than that. People are employed in the industry… It’s the bigger picture that you have to look at!”

She was adamant that buying local has a trickle down effect in the economy, allowing a host of people to benefit in the long run, and not just the entrepreneurs.

That being said, McIntosh extolled the benefits of self-employment and entrepreneurship.

“I’ll be honest,” she said. “It’s not a bed of roses, but there is nothing better than working for yourself. What you put into it, you’re going to get out.”

McIntosh is adamant that individuals must possess determination and be willing to take risks to ensure their success in the business sector.

“In St. Vincent you have to work ten times harder than anywhere else!” she said, but added that if an individual has a sound product, banks and other financial institutions will often recognise it and be willing to invest.

In addition to her recent shipment to Barbados, McIntosh is quite excited about her work on a coffee table book. As she leafed through the draft copy, she explained that the book would display photographs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, highlighting various aspects of local life and its people.

“I tried to touch on all aspects of Vincentian life,” she said, pointing she took most of the photographs for the publication.

Though grateful for her achievements, McIntosh acknowledges that there is room for development, and hopes to one day reach the level of Jamaican entrepreneur Winston Stona, proprietor of Busha Brown Products.

“I really admire what he has done for the agro sector of the entire Caribbean.”

Pointing to a photograph of herself and her idol, McIntosh chuckled: “I’d love to be like him one day. All we have in common now is the grey hair!”