Redundancy cloud has silver lining
Redundancy in depressed economic times has forced many former employees to turn to entrepreneurship.
And this was no different for Carlita Burgess and Marjorie “Miki” Richardson-Caines of Lifestyles Co Ltd.
Mrs Burgess lost her job of 17 years when the Bermuda Sun closed its doors in 2014, and shortly after Mrs Richardson-Caines suffered a similar fate.
As teenagers they had always dreamt of running a business together, but it wasn't until they suddenly had a host of free time that they came together to create Lifestyle's Co Ltd.
They began working for hours on their dining room tables often staying up until the wee hours discussing ideas, thinking so much that they often couldn't sleep. But almost every Friday they'd head to a beach to cry and commiserate over their losses whilst praying for inspiration for their future.
These days there is very little time for tears, as they chart their own course into the physical retail marketplace, online and beyond. And when they saw the America's Cup's invitation for licensees, they didn't hesitate.
Lifestyle's Co offers commemorative items such as picture frames, trays, bowls, ice buckets, champagne coolers and more. Their signature Best of Bermuda Award-winning waterproof canvas bags, duffel bags, messenger bags and sailing totes are also branded with the America's Cup seal.
In addition, they also have pint glasses and umbrellas on offer.
Every piece that they choose to sell has one thing in common, it has to be a statement piece and before choosing each piece they ask for God's guidance.
“Every time we look for a product, we pray about it and it's been like divine intervention,” said Mrs Richardson-Caines.
“We're in the right place, at the right time, for the right product.”
Their canvas bags, which are designed like authentic sailing gear, won two best of Best of Bermuda Awards from The Bermudian Magazine. One in the category of “Bags” and the other for “Products and Services — Corporate Gifts”.
“The high-quality canvas bags are available in four different colour combinations.
“The umbrellas are in two colour combinations blue and white, black and red and they're great because you never know when it's going to rain or be too hot, so why not show off your commemorative piece,” said Mrs Burgess.
“While the metal ware and glasses can be co-branded with a sponsor's logo along with the America's Cup seal. The metal ware are very functional pieces and not just display items.
“The glasses of course can be used every day.
“All of the pieces were chosen to evoke conversation. The world stage came to us because of the America's Cup and we are using it as a catalyst to show our talent and ability.”
Mrs Burgess, whose background was in sales, marketing and design added: “First and foremost our vision was to enhance awareness and conversation about Bermuda.
“Before the America's Cup 2017 was announced we were constantly looking for niche items for locals, but we found that we also had secured an international following through online sales.”
Both Mrs Burgess and Mrs Richardson-Caines are certified tourism ambassadors and they said: “Sometimes tourists just wander into our store. Some for America's Cup merchandise and others just pull up a chair and sit off.
“When you talk to a tourist about Bermuda, they are intrigued and they love good conversation. They don't always want to buy trinkets and touristy stuff.”
When they started out, they didn't expect that they their products or services would become award-winning or that they would become America's Cup licensees.
“Because of our connection with the America's Cup it has helped us establish a presence,” said Mrs Richardson-Caines.
“But we want people to know that we do so much more than just the bags, as we do corporate branding and gifts and unique finds.
“All of the sponsors had the opportunity to co-brand on all of our products except for the bags, but the Hamilton Princess was the only sponsor who had picture frames with both their brand and that of the America's Cup.”
Currently Lifestyles products can only be found at their store on Front Street, but there will be an announcement soon regarding other locations.
For more information visit their Facebook page, or website, lifestylesbda.com, telephone 295 5433 or e-mail email@example.com.