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Fields of dreams

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Janika Fields retuned to the Island last year with a college degree and high hopes.

She met with local advertising agencies — and even offered to work for free — but couldn't find a job.

The 25-year-old was frustrated but then decided to create her own opportunity.

Miss Fields is now the proud owner of a new boutique, Men Co.

She said: “I was like a lot of other students these days.

“You obtain a post secondary education and spend a fortune on a degree, then you return and really have no options for work.

“Most jobs you need experience or the qualification level is not up to par. I went to the ad agencies in Bermuda and asked to work for free to gain experience, but got excuse after excuse.

“So I focused my time on doing a good job at the Government summer employment programme.”

She finished the ten-week scheme and stayed on as a consultant for the Bermuda Jobs Board.

It was only a temporary post, so she also picked up part-time work as a bartender and sales associate.

“Then I started thinking about different avenues to break through,” she explained.

“In Bermuda a lot of male friends would tell me ‘I'm looking for something different [to wear]', ‘I'm tired of wearing what everyone else has on' or ‘There's nothing here for guys'.

“I realised there was a niche in the market.”

The boutique was the result of lots of prayers, planning and research.

“Sometimes I would go to town and just watch the way guys dressed,” she said.

“I noticed the guys fresh out of college liked a more fitted look, less graphics, but more prints. They wanted a more urban, classic style or something with a European fit and feel.

“So I just went out and tried to target that audience and went for styles that most stores don't carry in Bermuda.”

Miss Fields handpicks all the pieces.

She buys items in limited quantities, so her clients don't have to worry they'll be caught wearing the same thing as someone else.

She also carries sizes up to 3X, so she can offer bigger men stylish clothing options as well.

The young entrepreneur isn't stopping there.

She's using her background in advertising to create the store's gift certificates and ads.

She also helped design the shop's logo, in partnership with Bermuda Signs.

Her next goal is to set up a mentoring programme that runs out of the shop once a month.

It will offer young men basic training in skills like plumbing, yard work and hurricane preparedness.

She wants to open up young men's eyes to new opportunities and expose them to different trades.

“We all know about the violence going on within the demographic of young black men,” she said.

“So if I can help one or two guys change their ways then my mission is pretty much complete with owning this store. My goal is to inspire customers through culture and individuality.”

She never planned on becoming a business owner, and has learned a lot along the way.

It's forced her to be more responsible and taught her the importance of sacrifice.

“I work six days a week and sometimes on Sundays, because it's just me and another employee that works with me at nights,” she said. “That means I don't have as much free time as I'd like to.”

Her advice to anyone out of work? Don't be afraid to venture off from what you originally planned to do.

“There's no real blueprint for life,” she said. “I never thought at this age I would own something to this extent. At 25 most people just think about owning a car. But I put my trust and faith in God. I also had a mother [Jennifer] who was my strength, a brother [Michael] who was my motivator and an uncle [Mark] who put his faith in me.”

It's an amazing feeling to open the door to her own store, she said.

Men Co is located at the corner of King and Reid Streets, Hamilton.

Men Co Owner Janika Fields. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Men Co Owner Janika Fields. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Men Co Owner Janika Fields. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
Men Co, located across from Tribe Road Kitchen, at the corner of King and Reid.(Photo by Akil Simmons)
Men Co, located across from Tribe Road Kitchen, at the corner of King and Reid.(Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 12, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 12, 2014 at 12:41 am)

Fields of dreams

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