BORN IN THE cool hills of Mandeville Manchester, 27-year-old UWI graduate Lacey-Ann Bartley never envisioned that one day she would be the key to unlocking endless modern manufacturing products from a small family furniture business.
Bartley’s All in Wood, a profitable blend with her father’s original business, has ignited a high demand for specially designed and crafted wooden corporate gifts, jewellery, furniture, home accessories as well as popular signature Woogie hair accessories in Jamaica and beyond.
The business derives its source of wood locally from the Blue Mahoe, Guango, Spanish Elm, Bitter Wood and Pine offcuts.
Samples of Bartley’s work (Photos Contributed)
“I have always been in the family business helping my father, but one day, while a student at The UWI, Mona, I was asked by Ms Joan McDonald to find out if my father could make some wooden souvenir products for a World Council of Churches event,” she said.
She successfully satisfied the product request.
It was while working on campus and studying for her Master’s Degree in International Relations that she received another request, strengthening her belief and confidence to make a real difference in the wood manufacturing business.
“The UWI became one of my first clients through the IAD (Institutional Advancement Division) office of the Vice Chancellor, because I was able to test my products there. I would design something, and take it to work with me, and I was provided with numerous feedback and advice that I used,” she said.
Additionally, “I did an entrepreneur course at The UWI, Mona, facilitated by Dr K’adamawe K’nife (lecturer in Social Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at The UWI, Mona) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), and decided to do my paper for the course on furniture and the wood industry in Jamaica. It was then that I thought about moving the family business into something more,” Bartley said.
“It also led me to do my Master’s thesis on manufacturing (and) my supervisors encouraged me to use the information I gained to further my dreams,” she added.
Meanwhile, Bartley noted that although “the journey of entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted” it can be rewarding. “With everything in life, you have to make sacrifices to yield great results,” she remarked, while underscoring the need for a sustainable business plan, emotional support and peers who can help on the journey.
“The problem that I have solved is providing employment and creative Jamaican wooden gifts and art especially for corporate Jamaica, and also helping with carbon sequestration,” she said.
“I am helping to support Brand Jamaica which focuses on quality products. If you are going to say ‘Made in Jamaica’ it should give you a particular feel. When you pick up a Bartley’s All in Wood product, clients often say it is awesome and that they cannot find pieces of this quality and design anywhere,” Bartley pointed out.
Operating from her hometown of Mandeville is very sentimental to Bartley.
“One of the things about Mandeville is that I am in my own community and work with many of the people I have been around since childhood. We have an ample supply of wood, and crime is low,” Bartley said.
The winner of both the 2014 National Bakery Bold Ones in Manufacturing, and the JBDC Entrepreneur of the Year, Bartley’s All In Wood products can be found in 20 shops islandwide, including hotels and salons. Custom pieces are also at the company itself.