Features, Inspiring Women

From Tour Guide to Street Vendor – Lisa Phillip Takes on COVID-19

Lisa Phillip’s life changed in the blink of an eye after she lost her job at a local touring company. Now, she sells fruits and vegetables in the heart of the city. For Phillip, it’s a means to an end and she’s grateful for it.

Image of Lisa Phillip
Lisa Phillip

“Some people look down on people who sell produce but at the end of the day it is profitable,” the 30-year-old said in an interview with The VOICE on Monday.

“I lost my job during the pandemic. My mom and I came up with the idea to buy and resell food so we could make a profit because right now things are very hard and nobody’s helping. We had to find a way to make ends meet,” Phillip explained.

And so, they sprang into action.

It was around 6:15 p.m. The streets were busy and many persons were making their way home after a long day. Still, she hadn’t packed up yet. In fact, this was a great time for the vendor as many persons were on the hunt, at that hour, for the produce she sells.

“When I come here I have one goal in mind and that is to sell, make my money and go home,” she said.

But selling by the roadside is not always easy, especially when city police are “constantly harassing vendors,” Phillip stated.

“We cannot sell in certain places and the areas we’re allowed to sell in do not attract customers. For instance, there’s not a flow of persons coming to the Castries Market. For some reason it does not attract many persons so majority of vendors have to come on the streets to sell,” the young woman said.

“At the end of the day all of us have to survive and we’re trying to do the best that we can. A lot of persons have lost their jobs. I’m pleading with those in authority to allow persons to sell in their own country. Stop the harassment. Put yourselves in our shoes so you can understand what’s going on right now; it’s not a choice, we’re doing this because of the current situation,” she added.

It’s not all bad, however. There are precious moments she wouldn’t trade for a thing. When I met her, her daughter was standing right next to her. She had the sweetest grin plastered on her face. According to Phillip, having her daughter at work with her is a blessing.

“Spending time with your family is the number one thing in this pandemic. It’s a plus. I don’t see her as a burden. She helps me and it’s also a learning opportunity for her because she gets to speak to people, so in that way she won’t be shy. She also learns how to check money and do other things. I also like the fact that I get to spend more time with my mom because life is so short right now,” she said.

Although she’s grateful for her job, the young mother said she would have been better off if she made education a priority. Taking her secondary school years for granted is one of Phillip’s biggest regrets.

“I just wish I learned a little bit more because things are very tough and with education I believe you could go further in life. When I attended secondary school, we couldn’t choose our subjects; I wanted to be in a science class, but I ended up in a business class. But by the grace of God, I ended up making it to who I am today,” Phillip, a former student of Vide Bouteille Secondary School (now called the Patricia D. James Secondary School) said.

She’s certainly wiser now. Phillip revealed that the pandemic forced her to make better decisions and she’s not complaining either.

“Sometimes we spend money on things we think we need but we don’t. Sometimes you can fall sick and realize you need that money so people need to stop the excessive spending. COVID-19 taught me the importance of saving money,” she stated.

She continued: “Investing your money is important too. A lot of people don’t invest their money in the right things. Many people invest their money in the wrong things like clothes and shoes when they’re not starting a business, for example. If you get an opportunity to invest in the right things, run with it, don’t be scared and don’t look back.”

Phillip is taking life “one day at a time.”

She described herself as a “friendly, loving, boldface woman who’s softhearted at times.” She certainly is and I hope that her future will be bright.

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