Jamaica Art and Gift Festival a hit with shoppers, vendors
Some 35 entrepreneurs and creatives across Jamaica got a chance to showcase their unique handiwork at the first staging of the Jamaica Art and Gift Festival (JAGFest) held on Sunday at Murray’s Farm in Toll Gate, Clarendon. Sweet treats, luxury items, jewellery and home décor pieces topped the sightings.
Gianna Fakhourie, the event organiser, told The Gleaner that the venue was strategically chosen to bring some good and positive vibe to the central parish.
“We came to Clarendon because we really wanted something festive, and something fun and creative in Clarendon. Clarendon gets a bad [reputation], and if you have more things like these, it will expose all the good things that are available, and it will encourage people to do other things,” said Fakhourie, adding that the event could be an economic boost for the rural parish.
Fakhourie, who is the chief executive officer of The Original Arm Candy — a handmade jewellery line — said vendors were selected based on the uniqueness of their products, appealing packaging, and customer service — which she cites as paramount to any business.
“One of the main things I’m big on is service, because doing the great products is one part of it, but the service is really a big deal. If they were unresponsive, I immediately didn’t try to contact them back. They had to bring their A-game in every aspect. I think we identified really great vendors,” she said.
Fakhourie theorises that the festival is a reignition of the Christmas spirit, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic had crippled gift-giving due to the downfall in the economy.
Speaking of the response to the event, Fakhourie said, “We are happy with the response, and the vendors are pleased with the outcome of the event. They want to be associated with this kind of event, and they like that fact that they come and it’s not a hundred of the same kind of product here; it’s a very good mix.”
Several vendors boasted that by half day, they had made numerous sales and copped many potential customers.
Among the entrepreneurs was Simone ‘Tash’ Gordon, owner of T and T Fashion. Gordon makes clothes, bags and jewellery from African-sourced material. She lauded the festival, stating that such events have always been a significant boost to her business.
Sporting a handmade African-print shorts, decorated with tiger eye and sea beads, Gordon said the uniqueness of her pieces usually attract customers. Quizzed on why she ventured into the business, Gordon said, “Fashion chose me! People who buy from me are people who like difference, they like unique pieces.”
Gordon, whose clothing line features mostly free sized dresses told The Gleaner that a personal desire for loose-fitting and comfortable clothing propelled her to offer the same comfort to others.
T and T Fashion is based in Portmore, St Catherine, but ships locally and overseas.
LeeAnn Chuck-Dacosta of Let’s Make It Elegant gift store, based in Kingston, was also among the vendors. Let’s Make It Elegant gift store offers plaques, wall décor and other keepsakes, customised with motivational and spiritual quotes.
Referencing the story of Christ’s birth, Chuck-Dacosta said gift-giving, especially around the Yuletide season, is significant to the Christian culture.
“When we talk about gift-giving, we need to remember that this is coming back from the three wise men giving frankincense and myrrh and gifts to Christ when He was born, so the importance is that we’re walking that journey,” said Chuck-Dacosta, who added that her family has been integral to the business’ success.
Stephanie Bartley and her family celebrated her daughter Nicollette’s birthday at the event. Bartley said her family are enthusiasts for natural and plant-based products, and JAGFest did not disappoint.
Another patron, Rene Bigby, who was also celebrating her 55th birthday, was also pleased at the variety of gifts she could find for her relatives.
Citing the event as highly anticipated, Fakhourie said plans are under way to determine if the event’s second run should be staged before the 2023 Christmas season.