TWENTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD medical student Ejay Charles is good with his hands.
This is not surprising since he started honing his skills long before he was tall enough to stand at a table.
“From a tender age I learnt to bake, fry and roast bread,” he told UWIMONA Now. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is the norm for each household to make its own bread, and Charles’s family home was no different. In addition to making different types of bread, Charles also learnt how to bake sweetbread and cakes, among other things.
His skills in the kitchen would bail him out of financial difficulties several years later when he left Trinidad and Tobago to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree at the Mona Campus. As Charles struggled to pay his bills, he was forced to consider baking as a worthwhile business undertaking.
“My decision to enter the field of entrepreneurship was born out of a place of need,” he recalled.
“I was a very persuasive and jovial person so when financial troubles came, I put my skills to work for me by selling,” he said.
Charles’s first customers were his flatmates and friends, who had previously been drawn to the delightful scent of hot, home-made loaves coming from his kitchen at Rex Nettleford Hall. “I was so overwhelmed by the influx of positive responses that I decided to start selling my loaves, not even sure that I was making a profit at the time. It wasn't long before I got some branding done, and I started marketing using social media forums,” he recalled.
His customers started calling him ‘Breadman’, a name he adopted when he formed his company.
“Things were going well, and I was able to cover a lot of my personal expenses.” Charles recalled getting what he called a ‘crazy idea’ in 2014 to create a concession snack line for the Breadman brand. He expanded the business to include the sale of popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs and snow cones. He currently employs four UWI students, and operates at various events on The UWI and University of Technology campuses.
“I am able to pay for my accommodation, and afford things I couldn't have in the past. It's the quality of life and the autonomy that I enjoy the most,” he admitted.
He is also looking forward to becoming a medical practitioner and expanding his business. “I'd like to continue the Breadman brand with the tagline 'More than just bread'. In addition, in the same way a bank or a fast food chain has a drive-through, I want to also have a 21st century bakery with a drive-through,” he said.
“I also have a great appreciation for general surgery, so it's something I have in the back of my mind as a possible specialty.”
After medical school, Charles plans to do his internship, work as a general medical practitioner for a few years, start a family and “possibly accomplish some of the bigger entrepreneurial ventures I have written down in my 'Ideas for life' diary”.
|Professor Archibald McDonald||Dr Camille Bell Hutchinson||Director of Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office:|
Dr. Carroll Edwards
|Cassandra Brenton||UWIMONA Now is produced by the UWI’s Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office.||UWIMONA NOW Marketing, Recruitment and Communications Office, |
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