Business, Features, Strictly Business

Exquisite Craft That Comes In Handy

AS far back as he can recall, Joshua George has always been a creative individual. His knack for turning basic raw materials into exquisite handmade pieces of craft sets him apart in a world that is becoming more cultured in the business of mass production. In essence, the pieces that George creates are works of craft that come in handy and demand a second look due to the intricate detail he blesses them with.

“I’ve been involved in some form of creativity,” George tells me. “But I started this particular venture about three to four years ago. I’m into the business of creating unique souvenirs and gift items. I even make customized items for specific occasions.”

Image of Joshua George as he participated in this month's trade exhibition held at Baywalk Shopping Mall.
Joshua George as he participated in this month’s trade exhibition held at Baywalk Shopping Mall. [Photo: Stan Bishop]

The range of items George specializes in includes glass coasters, letter openers, letter racks, jewellery boxes, clocks, hairpins, earrings, and key rings. He runs a small business, Helen’s Craft, which basically taps into the idea of showcasing some of the best handiwork that can be representative of Saint Lucia. Using basic raw materials such as white cedar and coconut shells, George comes up with some of the most eye-catching souvenir items that are far from being just, well, basic.

“I love doing intricate and difficult-to-make pieces that cannot be replicated by anyone else. So I put a lot of effort into what I do so as to maintain a high level of work in all my pieces,” George explains.

While creative artisans like George are very sensitive about the feedback their works attract from prospective buyers, George says he is the first critic of his work. The master craftsman, whose novelty items were part of the rave at the recently-held Saint Lucia-Taiwan Partnership Trade Exhibition, says that while he sets a high quality standard for his pieces, many customers often see nothing wrong with what he would sometimes consider a less-than-perfect item.

“Anything that I create, I must be able to look at it and feel satisfied that it was properly done,” George says, as he shows me samples of his work. “It doesn’t go to market if it doesn’t pass my test first. Quite often, there are pieces that I produce that I think that are not fit for the market. However, I find that people are comfortable with those pieces and appreciate them nonetheless. However, it must pass my test first.”

As is the case with many other small businesses, most of the challenges George faces as an entrepreneur has to do with financing. Trying to stay afloat in these hard economic times, he says, often takes a toll on production and marketing. Most times he has had to make the finances elsewhere to plough into the business to keep it alive. Nevertheless, he sees much potential for the business having participated in the trade exhibition a few times.

“Looking at the exhibition from the publicity point of view, I have been able to benefit in some ways. I’ve developed a lot of contacts. Nevertheless, I can definitely feel the economic situation weighing down on even the people who are interested in my pieces but don’t have the funds to purchase them. So recent sales have not been as high as they once were,” George explains.

George says he’s constantly thinking of new ideas and trying to develop new products. He believes that by augmenting his already-impressive lineup of products, customers’ interest in his craft will continue to grow. However, he also seeks to marry creativity with affordability in order that his labours of love continue to catch on with customers.

“The more sales you get, the better. So you have to really try to create something for everybody. In these tough economic times, we have to try to meet the needs of as many people as possible,” George says.

For more information on George’s craft and prices, contact him at 450 0754 or 715 8193. You can also send him an email at johnandgeorge@hotmail.com.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

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