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Relina Coward

Barbados

“Manufacturing every day is really good, it’s tiring, but when you are making your product every day it means there is a demand and business is good.”

For Relina Coward, business is certainly going well, she makes healthy fruit juices. In the last few years she has taken her love of creating unique flavour combinations from a hobby to a viable business.

Relina started out making her drinks in her kitchen, to share with family and friends, she did not think she was an entrepreneur and recalls: “I was working in a deli with my friend and was doing the juices on the side. I had originally been hoping to open a completely different business, but I my idea was turned down by town and country planning.”

At first Relina was disheartened, she took the rejection of her initial vision personally. However as she started to see her new idea had potential, so her enthusiasm and resolve to create a thriving business returned.

Relina created R & R Delights Fruit Juices – a reference to the names of her children – she sold them at the deli where she worked and her unique flavour selections, combining local ingredients with a unique twist, fast became a hit. The business quickly reached a difficult stage, she could not make enough profit to quit her existing job or produce the quantities needed to break into the larger markets. It was at this point that Relina turned to The Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT). BYBT has more than 16 years of experience of supporting Caribbean entrepreneurial community to create and grow successful businesses.

After several meetings with BYBT manager Cardell Fergusson, Relina was paired up with a business mentor, Cliff Hinkson, with many years of experience. The first thing they tackled together was the brand.  According to Cliff the name of the brand - which had suited at first was now holding her back. She explained: “Originally I wanted something like R&R delights because it was sentimental and named after my children. I then did some research and realised it didn’t represent the brand, so we developed a new name and logo, now I have my business, Healthy Fruit Juices. There is a lot of competition selling juices, but all the rival brands are full of preservatives and additives, not our juice, it is completely natural.”

The pair then created a comprehensive marketing and strategic plan to promote her juice in a unique way that emphasised the difference from her competitors. A few months later and insecurity around cash flow and keeping up with growing demand had become an even bigger battle. With a growing customer base, unique products and a robust business plan for growth, BYBT again stepped in to provide a loan for $18,000 Bajan Dollars (USD $9,000) to fund the construction of the professional production facility she occupies today.

In 2015 the business was supplying to four small shops, two supermarkets and a couple of primary schools but Relina had big plans:

“We can sell 200 juices to a single school in a week, and I want to be supplying to every school on the island. After that I aim to be supplying my juices to all the supermarkets on the island.”

Relina’s plans do not stop there, she adds: “One day, maybe we will expand to sell food and I’ll have my own health talk show!” It’s clear having the support of BYBT has been instrumental in helping Relina grow her business, particularly the support of her mentor, an experience Relina calls invaluable: “Mr Hinkson is really, really great. He is a consultant, with businesses in the UK, so actually I’m receiving mentoring from an expensive consultant – for free – he offers his skills and support freely, I recommend mentoring to everyone.”

Relina is still working hard to maintain and grow Healthy Fruit Juices. There is no doubt as to the scale of her drive to build a business she can really be proud of.

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