A creative small business gets on its feet
The next time that you are out enjoying a bubbly evening with friends and loved ones at your favorite club or bar, do not be surprised if you see a young woman managing a shiny new photo booth. This undoubtedly will be none other than Tephany Baptist, the owner and creative director of Caribbean Icons.
As a new company, without access to credit and new equipment like the photo booth, Caribbean Icons was in a vulnerable position heading into the COVID-19 pandemic. But, with the help of the Enterprise Support Project (ESP) and ample doses of vision and hard work, Tephany’s company is one of the newest Creative & PR agencies in Sint Maarten.
“I didn’t feel like I was finding my place. I wanted something more, I wanted to really make an impact and do something that will be fulfilling,” said Tephany. With some soul searching, Tephany realized that she wanted to work on both sides of the marketing coin. It was not enough to simply create incredible content; she also needed to help creatives turn their raw, innate potential into refined, dazzling talent.
I wanted to really make an impact and do something that will be fulfilling
Building on the twin pillars of her educational journey, Tephany returned to Sint Maarten in 2019 and, with the goal of bringing humanism into Sint Maarten’s budding influencer marketing niche, she launched Caribbean Icons just one year later.
One of her first steps was organizing a two-day retreat. Tephany brought together several potential brand ambassadors and absorbed the costs of an elaborate photoshoot, all in the spirit of building their portfolios and ensuring that they were ready to grasp opportunities in the post-pandemic advertising climate.
From a world of coldly matching influencers to products and services, Tephany is building a community of creatives who are equipped with the skills to connect companies with their customers in authentic and compelling ways.
“While I connect companies and brands with the people and things that they need to promote their products, in the same breath I guide creatives in their craft and help to get them ‘out there’. I want to be that connecting factor to push the entire Sint Maarten creative industry – for influencers, photographers, graphic designers, musicians, singers, painters, dancers, and much more. A lot of people with dreams of working in the creative field get discouraged because people tell them that there’s no money in it. But that’s not true. I want to break that myth. I want to help people achieve their dreams instead of discouraging them,” said Tephany.
She had hit the ground running, but like other young, female entrepreneurs Tephany was constrained by old, unreliable equipment and a lack of access to credit to bring her business to the next level. “I was literally starting from scratch. I needed the elements to build-up my company,” said Tephany about her initial struggles. It was at this fortuitous moment that her father and one of her friends told her about ESP and its asset and repair (AR) package, which provides financing in a combination of a 65% grant and a 35% loan.
The funds helped Tephany purchase a DSLR camera, stabilizers, a photo booth, and, most importantly, a new desktop computer with a graphics card and a large hard drive. These materials have enabled her to strengthen her existing coaching services, as well as expand into event marketing at night clubs and bars.
To Tephany, ESP was more than worth it. The ESP helps to finance many types of small businesses, including those, like Tephany, that only need a small loan to kickstart their entrepreneurial goals. She encourages entrepreneurs to apply for funding.
“It’s very helpful, especially if you have no idea about how to start,” she says. “I have found my purpose. I feel like I’m better than before.”
I have found my purpose. I feel like I’m better than before