Mr. Raphael Rodney: Kittitian Entrepreneur
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS: 25 year old, Mr. Raphael ‘Phonse’ Rodney is the Creative Designer of his clothing line called Cane Juice. He grew up with a passion and desire to become an entrepreneur. He is the last of four brothers. He was raised in Conaree – which is also where his mom grew up. A second home was in Newtown where is father is from. He is the father of one four year old daughter Ymani Rodney.
Mr. Rodney recently graduated with a BA in Economics, a minor in Computer Apps, and an Associate in Marketing Management and Sales from the Lehman College in New York.
He attended Beach Allen Primary School and the Basseterre High School. Following high school, he worked with National Bank Group for two years, then onto Bronx Community College then to Lehman College in New York.
When asked by SKN Leewards Times about his entrepreneurial inspiration, his response was: “I always told my grandfather I wanted to be one as a kid. After enrolling in college, having a daughter, and needing a source of income I stumbled upon the idea to create a patriotic tee shirt. One thing lead to another and the rest is history. I was inspired by the love of being able to create something that people actually like as much as I do.” Additionally, he spoke about the nature of his business. “Cane Juice is an indigenous urban boutique clothing line inspired by Kittitian/Nevisian culture and heritage particularly in reference to our significant background sugar cane. Through our clothing we share a piece of our culture and lifestyle as it connects with other islands throughout the Caribbean. We believe in exclusivity and only produce a specific amount of stock each year. No re-runs.”
His business has been in operation for five years.
“Each year we celebrate with an anniversary fete during carnival since our initial launch in December of 2008,” he added.
His advice to aspiring entrepreneur is “to do what you genuinely love, be realistic in your setting your goals while chasing your dreams, and be assiduous regardless.
Mr. Raphael talked about both the successes and challenges of his business.
“Two of the biggest resources needed to create a successful clothing line are time and money. Both of these resources were tied up in my college education. I had to manage both. Other challenges included transitions and maintaining relevance,” he said. He went on to talk about his recent academic achievements. “I count this as a success. I also view the support of those who patronise as a form of success. I think we have a successful marketing strategy in which we use scarcity to drive demand. For now we do one batch of new tees once a year. So when we get shirts in stock, they go quickly. Plus we use the annual fete during carnival as an avenue to market via entertainment, which brings people together.” Commenting on his plans for the future, he remarked: “If you ask me, I am nowhere close to where I want to be yet, the aim is successful progress.”
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