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Aunty Jams the burger specialist
Jamilia Constance tried her hand at media and insurance for some time, but all the while entrepreneurship tugged at her heartstrings. Having delayed for far too long, after the birth of her son, she decided it was time to ditch the nine-to-five hustle and start her own business, building a burger brand that has grown popular along the East-West corridor. Today the 32-year-old chats with the Sunday Guardian as she takes us through her journey of establishing Aunty Jams.
Tell us a little bit about your background?
It might sound cliché, but I grew up with tough love. My mom played the role of both parents to my sister and me. She sacrificed a lot to make sure we were comfortable and always ensured our bellies were filled. We grew up renting but wherever we landed, my sweet mother, whose name is Rose, always made sure we had access to the kitchen on Sunday and this is where the magic began.
My family roots stem from the Southlands. I studied journalism and communication at Costaatt and political science at UWI. I worked at a television station after graduation, then went into the insurance field where I helped a lot of families. However, I would always be simultaneously dabbling in food. I did catering for small and large events. It’s only when I got pregnant with my son, Luke Zion, that I decided to take a break and focus on him. During this time, I invested in my first food truck. I would take care of Luke in the day and work the food truck in the evening.
Becoming an entrepreneur, was it always a goal of yours?
I always have an idea. Anyone close to me knows this. It’s like my bulbs are always on. I was always attracted to the idea of owning my own business. Creating jobs and opportunities for others whilst accomplishing my goals is just brilliant.
What was the deciding factor? And when exactly did you start your own business?
People who tasted my hand would always rave about how sweet my food tasted and they would encourage me to start my own restaurant. I wanted to but the starting costs attached to that vision went beyond my budget. So I invested in the food truck. I bought a Kia 2700 local used van and fabricated the back of it into a kitchen. We officially started the business in December 2015. We started selling in Santa Cruz opposite the Santa Cruz Food Basket grocery. It was a leap of faith but we had nothing to lose. Customers loved the food and that was satisfying.
You decided to get into food. Tell us why? And how has that been going?
I love, love, love food! Not in a gluttony kind of way. But it’s more like an appreciation for its many flavours and when combined, the magic it can create on one's palate is priceless. I always say food is life. It nourishes, it excites and it makes us happy. A good plate of food can change someone's entire mood.
How did you get your start-up? Was the business purely self- funded or did you utilise the assistance of Nedco?
It was purely self-funded. I saved every penny for this business.
Entrepreneurship, what are the challenges and the joys? What lessons have you learned and can now pass on?
There will always be challenges in life, its never-ending but over time I have learned that your emotions can make or break you. The joy I get in providing this service is seeing the long line standing outside my truck and witnessing the joy a customer gets after their first bite.
What’s the story behind the name Aunty Jams?
The initial name of the business was Trini Cravings. But the children who would buy from me would always call me Aunty Jams and it just stuck with me.
What would you describe as the benefits of being an entrepreneur rather than someone locked into the 9-5 hustle?
You have freedom to make your own decisions. Your business is a reflection of your efforts and within this framework, you have to be very disciplined to ensure your foundation does not crash. Benefits are far off for me as I am still in the building stages. But when I do become successful, and by God’s grace I will, Aunty Jams will feed the world, or at least most of it.
Where are you stationed?
We are currently situated at the Eddie Hart Grounds. We also cater to special events.
What’s the next move for Aunty Jams?
I would like to get a permanent location and if God sees it fit, start a franchise chain.
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