Updated: Mar 29
“Gem of the Caribbean Sea
Want nothing with we
I am a Bajan!”
When Rupee sang these lyrics back in 2011, I felt those lyrics in my soul.
Being from this small island in the Caribbean, many people take for granted how fortuitous it is to live within the borders of such a beautiful island. From our crystal-clear waters to our breathtakingly beautiful sunsets are some of the draws that invite people to this amazing island.
...and then, there's our culture!
With that, I can say with pride that there is no place like home.
Recently, I've been invited to work with Barbados Connect within their newly-formed Culture team, and have been brainstorming ways to highlight and showcase amazing Barbadians doing incredible things. Upon perusing Instagram, I butt up on a page that had these adorable bracelets with a Bajan logo on it. If you know anything about me, you'll know I am someone who loves and takes every opportunity to rep this amazing little rock. This page was BANZ.
BANZ is a Barbados-based jewelry brand which started by just making Bajan themed jewelry but with their recent success, has expanded to providing to different Caribbean islands. They give you the chance to rep your favorite island wherever you travel to. Whether you want to rock an area code necklace, or one in the shape of our island, BANZ has what you are looking for.
Banz offers both gold and silver options.
The owner, Nadja is super Talented!
Seeing Nadja’s work as I scrolled through her business’ Instagram page inspired me to grab a few awesome pieces and then initiate this interview:
So, where did your inspiration to start BANZ come from?
I saw pendants and jewelry pieces in shapes of different countries all over the world and thought, “Why not Barbados?”
The shape of this small island is deeply integrated in the culture. Everyone knows it, loves it and all around the world, people are proud to be Bajan, this is how BANZ was born. Basically the whole brand was developed around the idea of the island shape map. I wanted to create a memento, a little piece of the island that people can carry with them or give it as a gift to both locals and visitors.
Do you ship regionally? What made you choose to expand to incorporate other islands?
Expanding the collection to cater different islands such as Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica was something that we wanted to expand and do because the Caribbean islands are so connected. Starting with Instagram, and expanding to a website, word spread really fast and we realized how popular ‘maps’ are and began to see their potential.
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When I visited Trinidad 2 years ago, a lot of retailers showed interest in offering BANZ. They loved the idea, and that is how BANZ traveled outside Barbados. Currently, we are working on international shipping options as we received a lot of questions on that.
How has COVID and the lockdown treated you? Where have you spent your time?
The COVID pandemic negatively affected not only BANZ, but the tourism economy on a whole. Times have been hard and we don’t see things going back to “normal” anytime soon but, we all have to find ways to go on, to try our best to support local businesses.
The temporary closing of local shops obviously affected us massively as we supplied department stores across the island and many smaller stores. I quickly realized that creating banzcaribbean.com, as well as offering delivery and ‘drop box pick up’ options, was the solution.
I spent the lockdown thinking and planning a new creative direction for BANZ.
Currently, what is your favorite piece? And why is it your favorite?
OH it’s definitely our new lava beads bracelet featuring Bim map! We recently introduced beads to our collection and people seem to love it. Beads have healing properties and are so fun and easy to layer with other bracelets and watches. They are available for men too and turning to that demographic was another new moment for us as a brand.
What advice would you give emerging entrepreneurs?
If you really, strongly, believe in the idea and this one idea seems to be the one stuck in your head – DO IT!
It is important to take the time to do a lot of research on the market or field you are looking to go into. Do not be afraid to ask for opinions of others because it is not enough for just YOU to like the idea.
I also learnt that nothing should be rushed, nothing good can be achieved over night. It takes time and years to grow, to define the way you are going and where your business will be. In the future, what should we look forward to seeing from BANZ?
There is something NEW cooking, but we can’t tell you about it just yet! What we can say though, is that we are also working on expanding to two more Caribbean islands.
I can’t wait for the day when we can travel again.
Thank you Nadja, for not only taking the time to do this interview today, but for also doing your part to help put our little island on the map!
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