Seek out opportunity. Captain Herman left his native Jamaica and travelled to the Cayman Islands to take advantage of the opportunities that he knew existed there. Maybe leaving the country isn’t an ideal option for you, but perhaps a move to another town or state could be just what’s needed.
Stick with what you’re good at. In the Cayman Islands you will find Jamaicans working in nearly every position available from groundskeeper to general manager and from bartender to dive instructor. Captain Herman decided to stick to what he was good at: fishing and farming. In addition, his wife is a fantastic cook, so they eventually opened a restaurant. While there are opportunities for him in the hospitality industry, public service, retail, and more, Captain Herman was intentional about doing what he knew best.
Improve on your strengths. Upon arriving in the Cayman Islands, Captain Herman knew how to fish and how to farm, but he didn’t know the best fishing spots on a new island and he had different soil conditions to contend with on his farm. So through some trial and error and much studying, Captain Herman learned what it took to find plentiful fish and grow the best produce.
There is always more opportunity to find. What started out as a small farm and farm stand grew to supply a few local restaurants and then a grocery store and then all of the grocery stores on the island. Not content to operate another roadside produce stand, Captain Herman developed relationships so that he could gain access to new markets. These new markets allowed him to hire employees to work the farm for him. No longer tasked with running the fishing charter business and doing all of the farming, Captain Herman and his wife could look at the next opportunity: opening a restaurant.
Use what you have. Being from New England, I’m very familiar with pumpkins and pumpkin flavored products. From pumpkin muffins and pumpkin pie to pumpkin contests and the ubiquitous PSL, pumpkin products blanket New England every fall. But in the Cayman Islands? As a soup base? I never would have guessed that I would find conch soup made from a pumpkin base and yet it worked! Not only in terms of flavor for us, but in terms of profit for the Captain. Pumpkins grow easily and can grow very large. Producing their own seeds for the next crop along with an abundance of meat, the captain and his wife found a very inexpensive way to create a delicious soup. And conch cover the seafloor in many areas around the island. In water as shallow as 8 feet deep, they are very easy to harvest during conch season. So, the formula is:
Free conch + inexpensive pumpkin = happy customers and a profitable dish
In the fourth and final blog in this series, I’ll outline three more lessons from the friendly Captain.
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