American Philosopher, William James, advised, "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." Accepting this charge and doing just that in unique fashion, is what Lashlawnda Bailey has done. Here is her 'Inzzpiring' story.
The founder and jewellery creator of Inzzpire 365, told Outlook, that "for as long as I can remember, making things came naturally, whether it's poetry, a skirt, some drawing, practicing calligraphy - I've always been doing creative stuff".
Bailey, however, didn't dabble in the pleasures of wearing jewellery until 2003, while attending teachers' college. Coordinating necklaces of varying hues and shapes to complement her uniform, became a pastime for the student. But the stylish gesture had her wondering, "Why buy jewellery when I can make them myself?" She put her hands to creative use, constructing a few for her friends. Pretty soon, she was selling to those who expressed interest in the designs, and it was through this practice, that she was able to replenish her supplies. "I started teaching and my co-workers began making requests, so I started selling to them as well. Jewellery eventually became therapy for me. Every time I was feeling down, I would go to it; when I needed money, it would be my safety net," Bailey confessed.
So when it came to choosing between the two passions in 2015, Bailey left teaching. Investing in her talent made the most sense, and in December 2016, the company officially began operations.
"Jewellery-making basically saved my life. I was severely depressed. Just having my hands trying new things, opened up a new world. I came up with interesting designs and persons loved them," she elaborated. That's when she decided to take the jewellery business to another level.
"I was searching for purpose in my life. I found hope. I found a reason to live. So, I felt like I needed to inspire others and give them hope. If I could reach other persons by way of my jewellery, then that would bring some satisfaction to me, and it would feel like I was changing lives."
According to the craftswoman, the jewellery she makes is different from popular ones on the market, because her pieces are timeless.
So if you're looking to 'doll up' for a party, opting for a casual look for the road or seeking to accentuate your look for the office? Inzzpire 365 has it all.
With all the competition, Inzzpire 365 also aims to inspire.
"We bring hope to people because we let them know they have a reason to go on. Through working with the Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), we have been able to cement our mission by allowing persons access to organisations that can help them with depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental issues. As part of our mission, we are also working with a partner to pay for counselling sessions for persons who cannot afford them."
Husband and business partner, Kevin Miller added, "The more we share our story, the more people will see what and who we are and the more people will support us. The fact is, people are very interested in the social mission aspect that we offer, it empowers the business."
Having built their business solely out of pocket, Bailey and Miller initially faced financial challenges. But, they credit the JN Foundation/USAID SEBI project, for coming to their aid, as well as providing guidance for business structure and record keeping issues.
"Prior to the accelerator programme, we were part of the open network, and we were lucky to be invited to a number of workshops that were specific to business; and being a part of the accelerator programme has been a major benefit. We were selected for the project's trip to Silicon Valley for knowledge exchange, and they are in the process of acquiring equipment on our behalf. They offer opportunities for networking. They allow us to connect and make sales. We participated in the SEBI Booth at Expo Jamaica this year, and last year, we were at the Buy Social Fair at US embassy."
The once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit Silicon Valley, gave Bailey, what is a rare opportunity for many local businesses - to consider how they would exist in a global economy.
"It gave me time to think and made me realise that what I am doing with Inzzpire 365 can extend beyond Jamaica. There are persons who are faced with mental-health challenges throughout the world and I should not limit my thinking to just Jamaica. I should also remember I have a mission-based business and need to stay true to that all throughout. Also, if I am a social entrepreneur, I should always think social - and ask myself 'What else can I solve? What other innovation can I come up with to solve social issues?"
In the future, the Inzzpire 365 team hopes to increase awareness of their products and mission, as well as continue to acquire tools and the equipment necessary for the expansion of their business.
For more information on how to get your hands on their jewellery collection, or how to join the movement, you can find Inzzpire 365 on Facebook and Instagram: @inzzpire365, visit their website: www.inzzpire365.com, or call: (876) 798-4430-1