Saturday 23 March, 2019

Party Playas: Nariba Robinson brings passion to Carnival with Zèle

Nariba Robinson, the woman behind Zèle.

Nariba Robinson, the woman behind Zèle.

In this new series, we get to know the people behind some of the events that are stamping their brands on the Carnival Fete Calendar.

On Sunday, January 6, Nariba Robinson will roll out the fourth edition of her fete Zèle.

The party will be held on the grounds of Queen’s Hall in St Ann’s, a move from Mendez Drive in Diego Martin where it was held for the past two years.

Robinson sees this year as a watershed year for her brand which has been growing every year since her 25th birthday party in 2015.

That was where it all began.

“It started with my 25th birthday party being turned into a spontaneous fete, bring yuh bottle, Dutch party kinda vibe. It was held the same day as Soka in Moka so my age group had nothing to do. I did the invites, told everyone to bring a friend, I provided the venue, food, DJ, everything else. It turned into a full-on fete with a DJ, lighting, theatrics, the full works,” she said.

Robinson said after that party, people who came with some of her friends asked why they didn’t receive invitations themselves.

“It happened a good few times so I was like, ok. I spoke to one of my friends about the idea of turning the party into an annual birthday fete because hers is the week after mine but I am a procrastinator,” said Robinson with a laugh.

She said it was her close friend, David Wears, who finally convinced her to do it.

“I had a conversation with David Wears and his exact words were ‘Nariba you are the type of person if you want to get it done it will get done’. David was the first one I sent the logo to and he said yes, simple, this is you, run with it,” she said.

She named the party Zèle, French for zeal.

“It means to have passion and be energetic. Plenty of people mispronounce it but that opens the opportunity to have a conversation,” she said.

The first Zèle cooler fete was held at the house in Maracas where she held her birthday party was held but it was too big for the space. In the second year, she moved the party to Mendez Drive in Diego Martin but by last year the party outgrew the venue. The event is still held close to her birthday. 

“The first time I asked Queen’s Hall to use venue they said no. I was heartbroken hence the reason we ended up going to Mendez Drive. Because we are a small committee and we are doing everything out of pocket, we don’t have big sponsors so we had to fish for venues that were reasonable and had parking and was in close proximity to patrons, “she said, stating that if everything comes together as planned on Sunday she will shed tears of joy.

This year’s party will have elements of the first Zèle, Robinson revealed. And, in keeping with the nature of the iconic Queen’s Hall, the party Best Costumed Show 2018 winners from the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition, the Cocorite Ujamaa Folk Performers, will produce and design the stage for the event. Patrons will enjoy memories of the 19th century with a parade of traditional mas costumes and characters from Carvalho Production, the Paramin Blue Devils and San Fernando School of the Arts Kaisokah Moko Jumbies lead by Junior Bisnath.

Patrons will enjoy a free White Oak zone on entry and the event, which has been dubbed the celebration of everything Carnival will see performances from Shal Marshall, GBM Nutron, Rhys Thompson and Modupe Onilu of the BoomBoomRoom, a surprise female artiste, as well as some of the country’s top DJs and radio hosts.

“The challenge is to create an event that stands out,” said Robinson, who is still a relatively unknown entity in the fete business and aiming to find a niche in the crowded fete calendar.

However, she said, being young and female presents other challenges as people can tend not to take you seriously or have an issue when you put your foot down.

“It is important to have a lawyer and contracts in place,” she said.

In addition to the Zèle fete, Robinson does  Zèle beach games the week after Easter and has developed a digital series called 6 in 60 where citizens are asked to meet a particular challenge in 60 minutes.

She also has two other events planned this year, an Independence fete in August and another one which she is not yet willing to reveal.

While she loves the social events, Robinson, who has been working full time in communications and marketing for eight years, loves corporate work. Zèle, she said, has been doing social and corporate marketing and branding for small businesses.

“I haven’t officially launched it on a grander scale but for 2019 we are expanding on the corporate side. My vision also is to create a children’s brand. We came up with the character, concept and everything.  The key thing is to help children understand the benefits of healthy discussion, anti-bullying etc,” she said, looking into the future.

Right now, Robinson is building her brand out of her own pocket but she said it is an investment developing the brand to the point where she could see revenues monthly instead of depending on events only.

“I am looking at business strategies now to solidify that and sign on with a brand or two for the entire year and see how that partnership will grow. We are investing time, a lot of money is being spent. We are small in numbers but we have a good few solid people on the team who are seeing the potential of the brand,” she said, admitting that there are times she does feel to give up.

“Many times I am like what am I  doing but when you study how much money went into this thing you say ok and get it done,’ she said.

Zèle will run from 4:00pm-10:00pm.

Follow Zele events on Facebook.

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