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My name is Joanne D’Juran and my husband and I designed “skins” for children’s lunch kits to increase their capacity and functionality.
D’Juran is an Eastern European name. I was born a Look Kong. But, you know, when women get married, they give away their identity.
My significant other is Clayton. We have two boys, two girls. An eight-year-old, Kyle. Ross is five. Leah is three and my youngest, Jess, is a year. No more, that’s it! Four children is four stressful times packing lunch kits a day.
I’m from the West. But I grew up in the East. I’m a Valsayn girl. But, 30 years ago, the houses weren’t so big as the mansions when Valsayn first started. I’m from the downsized Valsayn.
I went to St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain. I’m the youngest of five siblings, one sister, who all used to go to school and come back with my dad every day. This was before the highway expansion, so it was real traffic. But I have great memories of those drives. One sibling lives in Shanghai, two in Toronto. I have a brother here in Trinidad. I did the graphic communications programme at Ryerson University in Toronto.
I’m a “Corn-vent” girl. But I am definitely not “stoosh”.
My relaxation is sleep. With four children, you need it. But we love to go to the beach, the pool. We like all the fun Caribbean outdoor things Trinidad & Tobago offers.
I would like to play mas but don’t think I’ll get the chance. With four children, I need a two-to-one ratio of babysitters. And you don’t often get them at Carnival time.
I had to pack three lunch kits every day and it was really hard fitting everything into the lunch kit. Coleman coolers are great because kids can sit on them—that’s important, ‘cause they have so much waiting time nowadays. But the water bottles could never fit into the lunch kit with their lunch! And extracurricular activities was extra stress, to try to get extra water and extra snacks into a lunch kit that was already too small.
So my husband and I came up with a design to hold the water or juices on the OUTSIDE of the lunch kit. Now the whole lunch kit is for food alone! For anyone who has fought up with a Coleman cooler lunch kit, it’s a great improvement.
We call our design, “Cool Skins”. My husband came up with the name. He’s a copywriter. They’re machine-washable and can hang-dry, so they’re easy to keep clean. They usually last as long as the cooler but that depends on the usage.
Skins retail for about $115. For boys, we have a football, a skateboard, robots and aeroplanes. For girls, owls, an elephant, zebra and other girlie prints. There’s a Velcro strap that holds the skin in place and helps keep the lunch kit closed even when children run around the field.
Cool Skins are made in China, like everything else in the world, but they’re 100 per cent local design. We’re in some schools—St Andrews, Maria Regina—and we’re aiming to get to schools in the East. And [Frederick Street school supplies store] Emdads and Peake’s carry them.
Trinidad has a lot of entrepreneurs who come up with great ideas. You see it all the time. We should have a “Shark Tank” [reality business competition] programme here.
The best thing about Cool Skins is how much easier the mornings are in packing lunch kits. There’s no bad thing about them.
A Trini is a person who enjoys life and embraces everything Trinidad can give them. We’re fun-loving and friendly to everyone who visits.
Trinidad and Tobago are two beautiful islands that mean “family” to me. My siblings away, if they had a choice, would love to come back here to live.
So my brother and I are blessed to be here.
n Read a longer version of this feature on BC Pires’ Facebook page.
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