I really don’t know how it all started, this infatuation with the Caribbean islands.
We were living in Breda, The Netherlands, when we first became involved.
Shirley, my wife and I had developed a system of ‘mass producing’ hand airbrushed tee shirts and kimonos, selling them primarily to large, prestigious department stores in Holland, Belgium and the UK.
The problem was that when we started to get interest from stores in the USA, they expected us to deliver thousands of garments in a very short time. Two of us working frantically in our apartment’s back room could not hope to produce anything like that number.
So, on the advice of friends, off I went to Haiti, armed with a case-full of airbrushes and air hoses, to interview prospective artists and set up a production facility, in partnership with a Dutch expat who had a small factory there.
My arrival coincided with mass protests and the coup which ousted president Baby Doc Duvalier. My travelling companion and I escaped in the last two seats of the very last flight out of Haiti.
And still I returned to the Caribbean!
Our eldest son, Justin, bears the somewhat dubious honour of completing over 20 individual flights, before his 1st birthday
– mainly between West Indian islands.
We attempted to set up business links with the Caribbean, either finding products manufactured there which we could sell in Europe, or create our own products to sell throughout the Islands.
One time we created ‘Tropic Island Treasures’, three flavours of coconut and vanilla soap, manufactured by a prominent German company. Unfortunately the minimum order was 10,000 per flavour, and the only order we received was for 12 bars “to try”