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Artisanal Brands Thrive in Kingston

MoDA Market '23 Photos by Ricardo Lewis

business woman and skincare line creator showcases her product to a customer at artisan market in kingston, jamaica
Creators like Sandra Mullings and her skincare line, Birch Wright, were able to introduce their small-batch artisan-made products at MoDA Market 2023

Many of us can understand what it means to have a rough day, or even rough years. Nature has yet to find an easy way to teach resilience, and, as recent times have shown, resilience is a life lesson useful not only in individual lives but also in ensuring collective stability against rapidly changing global tides.

This is just one reason why the shopping resurgence seen again this year is such good news for the Jamaican economy. The holiday shopping season is in full swing as we move further away from COVID restrictions and back to what might feel like the first “real” Christmas since COVID. It is more than just a resurgence, however, as trends indicate a growing market for small-batch, artisan-made products, supported by institutions like Sagicor and their commitment to Jamaican economic resilience.

The Sustainability, Community and Profitability of Artisanal

sagicor bank jamaica discover greece promotion
Along with its Discover Greece promotion offering a trip for 2 to the Mediterranean oasis, Sagicor also gave away cash prizes at MoDA Market to its cardholders.

Sagicor partnered with the MoDA team, CPJ and beauty sponsor The DB Glow for MoDA Market 2023, a three-day market experience that celebrated a more discerning Jamaican marketplace; four days if you were invited.

The shopping event featured a list of select international designers who drew inspiration from and designed specifically for a Caribbean aesthetic. The designers catered to the resort wear market while embracing the region’s African foundations and diversity. They were joined by a batch of Jamaican creators dubbed MoDA Makers.

MoDA Makers are small-batch producers representing the thriving microsystems that are becoming increasingly vital to resilient markets like Jamaica's, Japan's and America’s. Artisanship has long been a prominent feature of the Japanese identity and market, but more Western communities are recognising how these profitable, small-scale businesses are not just vital to a healthy economic ecosystem but also further us towards sustainability goals as the higher price tags afford higher quality, sustainably sourced ingredients, and products that are thoughtfully made, lasting, and often built on established traditions.

Among this year’s MoDA Makers were wood, bead, metal and other craft workers serving a taste of Caribbean cool with skillfully crafted wares. One such maker, Lashawndla Bailey-Miller, showcased her jewellery line that is literally fit for royalty, as Kate Middleton recently sported some timeless hand-crafted pieces from the creator’s Pearlz collections.

grid of photos showing fine jewellery with pearl and gold plated stainless steal and one image shows kate middleton wearing the jewellery in jamaica where the jewellery designer is from
The Sandz collection features designs with sand from the beaches of Jamaica.

There were also jewellery designers working in beads and texture contrast, highlighting just a taste of the variety that can be found in artisan markets. It wasn’t just fashion and accessories either, there were MoDA Makers working in food, skincare, wellness and more.

Artisanal Brands in Kingston here to Stay

As the digital migration spreads, the importance of brick-and-mortar experiences continues to show resilience. MoDA Market 2023 is just the most recent in a list of value-driven, customer-engaging activities geared especially at giving customers more reasons to come out and enjoy the shopping experience in person.

Following Design Week in October, there was also the Jamaica Observer TSO, and the Jamaica Food and Drink Festival. Both TSO and JFDF also featured artisanal market spaces, highlighting the growing appeal of artisanal brands in Kingston.

At MoDA Market, artisanal food came in the form of a familiar rectangular treat with some surprising benefits. Not only are For Goodness Graze’s chocolate bars locally made from Jamaican cacao beans and monk fruit, but they are also sugar-free, dairy-free, and the serving size is, get this, an entire bar. All that candy, and it’s good for you too.

jamaican artisan chocolate maker posing with her vegan sugar-free chocolate bars
Tara Shoucair and her monk fruit chocolate bars.

Apart from discovering new products, new brands and new suppliers, pop-up markets give consumers a chance to engage with creators about their products and their stories, which are often tales of personal triumph.

Like 26-year-old aesthetician and entrepreneur Danyelle Pike, whose struggles with lupus inspired her journey into aesthetics and her brilliant skincare line, Farmacology, which delivers optimal impact for sensitive-skinned consumers, as The DB Glow’s Dr. Dainia Baugh acknowledged when she announced she would be carrying Farmacology in store at Locale.

It was a full list of products made and curated with care for the craft and for the user and the user’s well-being, like Lee-Ann Haslam’s Lee Creates line of organic body butter, or Sereen Skin & Self-Care with its line of scented candles and skincare products, all designed with health, wellness and holistic well-being in mind. These were just a few of the outstanding creators at MoDA Market 2023, and represent only a fraction of the small-batch producer market here in Jamaica.

With all the merch moved in MoDA Market totes, some of us should be looking forward to some quality gifts this season. If not, Merry Christmas all the same, and a happier new year when they come. Here’s to embracing the celebration of family, post-harvest feasts and the spirit of thoughtful gifting that comes with the season.

Locale is now the official home of MoDA Market. Drop by #ThePinkBuilding for a sip at our coffee and cocktail nook next time you’re on Holborn Road in New Kingston.


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