Architect tells construction’s story on video
After shelter-in-place ended, there were hashtags, competitions and campaigns created to encourage people to support local business.
But architect Akilah Swan noticed that the construction industry was largely left out.
“The push seemed to be focused on retail,” the owner of design firm Aina Curated said. “We have an entire industry that is a big part of the economy that is not often talked about. A lot of jobs are held in that sector, but often people feel that they will get a better price off the island, or readily trust getting materials overseas, as opposed to knowing who you can go to in Bermuda.”
To bring attention to Bermuda's construction-related firms she has launched an Instagram video series, AC Highlights. The first episode features a tour of the Pembroke Tile and Stone show room.
The videos target everyone from people working on small home renovation projects to overseas buyers of multimillion dollar Bermuda homes.
“They might not be working with a local architecture firm because they might have a rapport with someone overseas, not realising that there are great people and contractors and resources on the island,” Ms Swan said. “This was an opportunity to do something for the community.”
When she renovated her own home a few years ago, she was advised to “just fill a container” with materials purchased overseas.
“I remember being really thankful for the local suppliers that I did work with, such as Pembroke Tile and Stone,” she said. “The customer service was phenomenal and so was the product. It is great bringing awareness to people I know.
“There are some really neat contractors and people on the island. It was an opportunity to do something for my community.”
She started Aina Curated earlier this year. To market the business in the current climate she had to be creative.
“I am not going to lie, there is publicity that comes from this,” she said. “But it was fun making the videos. It was fun going to showrooms.
“One of the videos that will be coming out is with a contractor. I really enjoyed his interview. His is the new generation of contracting firm. He is looking at it from an entrepreneurial mindset. He has empowered his staff to have a stake in the business and develop them so they are running and managing well.”
So far she has not charged the businesses featured in the videos for the advertising she is giving them, but she said it was something to consider for the future.
She is the architect for the Transformational Living Centre for Families — a joint project between Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda and the Women's Resource Centre. The old Pembroke Rest Home on Parson's Road in Pembroke is being transformed into the new centre.
“It has been great to watch the plumbing and everything coming together,” she said. “Some of the people working on that are doing the labour so it is not so expensive for the donors.
“That is another point. When you invest in your local construction company, supplier or architectural firm, then they are able to give back to the community. Someone overseas doesn't have a local stake. They are not going to donate hours to a community project.”
Her sister, Alandra Swan, helped her to make the videos.
“She has always been into production and film,” Ms Swan said. “When I worked in Boston, she used to come and visit me. She would be out somewhere with me and suddenly we'd be doing a film interview or some kind of editorial shoot.
“This is fun for us. It is great that I have my own business so that we can explore things that give us joy. We can look at things we like to do and hone a skill set.”
One of the challenges of making the videos was scheduling the time needed to produce them.
And she had to deal with a little bit of shyness on her own part.
“For me there was the fear of being seen,” she said. “Even though I was used to making little movies with my sister, this was still a bit out of my comfort level.”
And even though she was careful to try to keep the videos short and punchy, there was still a lot of editing to do after filming.
So far, they have filmed five videos for the series. They plan to release them biweekly on Fridays on Instagram.
Meanwhile, Ms Swan said business has picked up since the lockdown ended. She is busy, and looking forward to what 2021 will hold for her.
“I am very thankful that pretty much a month hasn't gone by if not a week, where I haven't had someone inquire about what services we provide,” she said.
Some people have full scale design projects for her to work on, and some just want to pick her brain for an hour or two to get feedback on projects they are working on.
After the lockdown she found many people were eager to start home renovation work.
“People got tired of staring at their kitchen or whatever during shelter-in-place,” she said. “Many people are ready to change their environment.”
From that she has learnt the importance of consistency.
• For more information see ainacurated.com or @ainacurated on Instagram or Facebook, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the first episode of AC Highlights go to: www.instagram.com/tv/CFj3_9HBP-2/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
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