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Tent survival

by Kimberley Cummins

The survival of calypso tents depends on diversification — changing and adapting to the times and technology.

This conviction is one of the reasons why the doors of the House of Soca tent have remained opened, manager Sharon Carew-White told Barbados TODAY in an interview this afternoon. She also said that managers have to make it interesting for persons so they would want to return and for those who have never been, eager to do so.

The tent manager advised that calypso tents should be seen as a business, and like any other their objective was to make money, so they could no longer solely depend on patronage for their upkeep. To ensure the continued existence of her tent, Carew-White has teamed up with some small entrepreneurs to promote and diversify the House of Soca brand.

When the tent opens this Sunday, June 23, at Queen’s College in Husbands, St. James patrons will not only get the usual ground provisions from C.O Williams Construction, Lears Plantation and pastries but further, there will be comforts from Andrea Lynch, cheesecake made by Lissa’s Sweet Treats, locally produced hand-made scrubs by Carla Gall, local fruit juices from Jennifer Shepherd and locally made fruit alcoholic beverages from Kaiso Blue.

What the tent management has done this year, moreover, was instead of just giving these enterprises an avenue to trade their products they have in cooperate them into the brand: Bajan Soup Full Of Talent And Culture. Taking it a bit further, they have labelled Kaiso Blue-House of Soca for the duration of the Crop-Over season.

Carew-White said: “Having sampled his dunks and saw the potential of this product I decided it would be good if we could brand this product House of Soca so it pushes his brand. For us, branding is important because our market is not just local, we are trying to get our brand outside where we can not only have our artists when we travel we can take products of Barbados out to them. We are not only pushing calypsonians but craft and what we have here, we only have to believe in what we have and our brand.

“When Popsicle and I went to the United States people were asking, ‘Yuh got CDs?’ then they start asking what else

do you have, so what else do you have could be local stuff… local products, our culture. ‘Why are we branding drinks and working along side these persons?’ Because when you leave the tent you take with you much more than memories — you leave with a product as well as a memory.

“Every year when we do an analysis, we look to see how we can make this bigger than last year… We realise that with a product, when you sample it you say you want more. If you can’t get it in the the stores, you come back to the tent saying ‘I would like to have that bottle with the House of Soca brand, I would like to have that tee shirt with the House of Soca logo — I want to be part of that’. We

at House of Soca see Crop–Over as a way for a small business persons to make a little extra … and as a result now we have full nights, sometimes bursting at the scene.”

She said they began pushing small enterprises and entrepreneurship back 2008 with yams and potatoes. At the time, however, people thought it was a joke, … but then after a while people started coming for the ground provisions.

“It was the beginning of a business plan,” she revealed.

House of Soca will face the judges Pic-O- De-Crop judges on July 4 at Queen’s College.

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