Young People in Business – Rhesa Lessey supports local with Things TT
It was 27-year-old Rhesa Lessey’s passion for beautiful, locally made items that became the start of the now-popular local market, Things TT.
Lessey, who juggles her business alongside two other jobs, says the journey, which began in 2013, was not without its challenges but she has no regrets over taking the plunge to start her own business.
Lessey said it all began when she sought out local designers while running a fashion blog, which turned into an effort to help market their products.
(Photo: Locally made items on offer at Things TT market)
“I used to run a fashion blog and I started interviewing fashion merchants and designers and they told me about some of the challenges they faced. I got this idea that I really wanted to do something that would help them reach their goal.”
“I’ve always been very creative but with more of a business mindset so I launched the idea to give these designers an avenue to launch their products.”
“At first it was more of a thought of having a space for fashion designers but it evolved to including a wide range of all types of locally made items, from jewellery to beauty products, to food, herbal products, everything,” she said.
(Photo: Happy vendors at Things TT Market)
Lessey said that she initially told no one of her plans except for close friends and family, out of fear that others might dissuade her from her goals.
“The first time I thought about it, I didn’t share the idea with many people because I wasn’t ready or as confident in the idea just yet. I didn’t want to tell too many people to get opinions in there that may have discouraged me so I went ahead and did the basics, until I was comfortable enough to share with my family and friends. That was the hardest part, becoming confident enough in my own plans,” she said.
(Photo: Things TT market at the University of the West Indies)
She said she aimed to have a minimum of 30 vendors and crossed her target, with 32 vendors at the first event.
The market was a resounding success.
“It went really well, it’s really popular with students,” she said.
Lessey said the market, which is held at the University of the West Indies, has since taken off and become even more popular.
She said although the first event had no major hiccups, she has since learned to adapt with any challenges which come her way.
“There are many challenges, from event coordination to marketing mishaps…I remember going to set up (the venue) at UWI, which is usually held for lectures, and all the chairs were still there and the facility (department) was unreachable. We had to find a way to clear the auditorium,” she said.
“It’s always been a learning experience to overcome whatever challenges I may experience at that point in time,” she said.
Lessey has since recently launched the Things TT website, which features locally items for sale online at www.things-tt.com, a great way to provide access to local business products at competitive prices.
“It’s a bit challenging juggling three jobs, I have a regular eight-to-four job, but then I also do other digital media jobs, and then there’s the Things TT event and the online website.”
“It’s a lot of goal-setting and sacrifice in terms of how you spend your time, and how you spend your money, whether you want to spend more time investing into your business. It’s takes a lot of discipline,” she said.
She said she feels encouraged knowing that she is making a difference for local businesses.
“It’s always a wonderful experience to me because one of the things I hold dear is sharing positivity and I’m grateful that all of my vendors are positive and supportive, even when suggesting improvements they do it in a positive way. One of the things that stood out to me the most is the vendors who come, time and time again, even when the market was smaller, that kind of support shows how much they believe in the brand and how much they believe in me to help push them forward,” she said.
Lessey’s advice to other young business owners is to stay the course.
“One of the major things is to stay consistent and having progress as a key value, because there will be challenges along the way and you may feel discouraged, but consistency is the key to having a successful business, and always having progress at the top of your mind. Something as simple as achieving one goal for the day is still progress, so always keep it top of mind,” she said.