– dreams of one day making it big on international export market
By Utamu Belle
What started off as just a curious business venture between two women has led Linden entrepreneur 49-year-old Pamela Bradford down the path of creating her own line of natural coconut oil products. The businesswoman, who is the creative mind behind Pam’s Coconut Oil Products, has recently ventured from simply making, bottling and selling plain coconut oil to residents in the community, to establishing her own line of scented coconut oil hair products. Residents in the community, more so ‘naturalistas’ are intrigued by the latest development as Bradford offers a diverse line of appealing fragrances which means, no more plain coconut oil scent! The exciting new fragrances include cherry, jasmine, vanilla and lavender infusing the all-natural benefits of coconut oil. Her other coconut oil products include virgin coconut oil and the special ‘Pam’s Herbal Hair Oil’.
Coconut oil has been used for centuries and with its countless nutrients, is noted to have amazing health benefits for the hair and skin. Bradford has been in the business of local coconut oil production for approximately three years with the idea coming from a friend. She recalled how she first started during an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine.
“I was friends with this lady and she said, ‘Pam, we could do this coconut oil business together. We started it together, but then… I branched off…She’s not doing it much now, but I continued it,” Bradford reminisced.
The multi-talented businesswoman, who is now producing on a medium scale, is a vendor at the Wismar Market in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice), where she also operates a floral design business. She explained that she started off with producing virgin coconut oil as her first product. She then went on to create coconut hair oils, and more recently, added the scented coconut oils. With no harsh chemicals added, Bradford’s products include natural herbal oils such as castor and carrot oils and water. Apart from use in the hair, the coconut oil products can be used in the treatment and prevention of diaper rash and stretch marks and during massages. The herbal hair oil has benefits such as repairing damaged hair, fighting frizz and deep conditioning. With the enchanting fragrances and superb labels, the oils are set to take the local market by storm.
“It’s herbal oils made from the virgin coconut oil and other herbal ingredients like the cherry fragrance,” Bradford explained.There is a ready supply of coconuts in the community, given the fact that almost every yard has a tree. Bradford explained that this makes it a lot easier to pursue the coconut oil business.
“We got a lot of coconuts in Linden,” she noted.
With her latest invention, she noted, however, that the fragrances are brought in from overseas, as she pointed out that she would like to see the fragrances being developed and made available on the local market. Highlighting another challenge, Bradford related that her plastic bottles are bought from a bottle factory on the East Bank of Demerara, but apart from this, she would have to ship her bottles into the country.
“Getting the bottles is a big challenge … because you don’t normally get them. But I went online and I saw it at them, so that is how I end up purchasing from them…,” she explained.
Bradford said she envisioned her business one day making it on the international market and hopes to develop other lines of products using the cheap and readily available coconut oil. She noted, however, that it would take assistance and collaboration with the relevant authorities.
“I think if I get the kind of help that is needed, then the business would grow further, even out of Linden. I would like to see more opportunities for expansion,” she said.
Bradford said she was happy with the progress made thus far, regardless of the challenges, but shared her beliefs that there is room for much more improvement.
“I need more help because I don’t have my own grater. I have to pay to grate the coconuts. I have to pay workers also. If I get the help to have my own grater I wouldn’t have to pay to grate it and then I can afford to sell the oils more reasonable than how I am selling it now,” she posited.
Presently, her virgin coconut oils are sold at $1000 for 10 ounces, $1800 for 500ml and $3000 for 1 litre.
“I teach a lot of young people to do what I’m doing here, but you would always hear them saying things like they can’t do it off of their own, they got to get financial help,” she noted.
But the businesswoman has advice for other entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.
“I would always advise persons to be independent… I would encourage anybody, once you put your mind to something, go ahead, run with it and just focus on what you want to do. Be independent, be progressive and everything else will fall into place,” she counselled.