Q&A with Garfield Williams, CEO at the Trench Town Ceramic and Art Centre

The Trench Town Ceramic and Art Centre produces ceramics for sale in local gift shops and hotels, as well as running ceramic workshops for tourists and the local community.  It offers immersive, educational opportunities for visitors to learn about ceramics and, as a social enterprise, is also an important community resource and a valued hub for local residents to come together and learn new skills. 

As one of our ‘booster businesses’, Trench Town Ceramic and Art Centre has been receiving bespoke support on topics such as marketing, product development and business planning and it recently won our special community award in recognition of the ways in which its initiative was directly designed to support children and young people.  We caught up with the Centre’s CEO, Garfield Williams to talk about how Big Up Small Business’s support is helping the Centre and plans for the Centre’s future.

Big Up Small Business has provided marketing support and ran a digital marketing competition for its ‘booster businesses’.  Can you tell us a bit about what marketing initiatives you’ve implemented as a result?

The digital marketing competition that was launched in July 2021 gave me the opportunity to develop a campaign that promoted my partnership with a street photographer.  As a result of that campaign, we were able to produce items that showcased the Jamaican culture and heritage and post these on social media.  Those social media posts resulted in an increased interest in the Centre as well as increased sales for the items.  Items were purchased from Jamaicans and foreigners from as far as New York.  Some of the items that were produced at that time continue to generate interest and demand.

The Centre recently won our special community award for product development, can you tell us a bit about the new product?

Trench Town Ceramic and Art Centre has been offered a space in the Falmouth Artisan Village to promote our products to cruise ship passengers, and with this we have been given an opportunity to showcase the Trench Town community and culture.  When the product design competition was launched, it gave me the perfect opportunity to design a tour that will enable the cruise ship passengers to visit the Trench Town community and the Art Centre and experience the trench Town vibe – the place where it all happens.

What was the community award used for?

The funds that I received from Big Up Small Business came in very handy, because at that time the business was suffering due to lack of sales and limited production as a result of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.  I was able to use the money to pay the community members who often source the clay (raw material) for my products.  Also, many of the youths who help out in the production, were able to receive a stipend.  Additionally, some of the funds were used in the community to pay for goods and services supplied by other small businesses in the community.  Those funds were very timely!

How has the support you’ve received from Big Up Small Business helped you and have you implemented any other initiatives as a result?

The resources and training provided have helped me to structure the new tour that we will offer to cruise passengers, as well as with pricing and marketing. We’ve also established partnerships with hotels in Kingston to host their guests on tours of the Centre and are creating packages for those guests. We have engaged with ground handlers and tour operators to offer tour packages to the Centre and have hosted some familiarization trips. Time and manpower constraints have meant that I haven’t been able to implement everything this project has taught me, but I intend to implement it all and I’m planning to source some volunteers or interns who can support me to do so.

Free resources for small and medium tourism enterprises can be downloaded here.

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