YardEdge Talks to Heneka Watkis, Creator of Patwa Apparel
Heneka Watkis is CEO and Director of Marketing for a new Jamaican line, Patwa Apparel. YardEdge caught up with Heneka recently to find out what Patwa is all about…
YardEdge: What is Patwa all about?
Heneka: Patwa focuses on the richness and depth of the cultures existing within the region. Patwa uses the authentic expressions that resonate both with visitors to Jamaica as well and locals in a way that evokes many a smile.
The essence of our focus is the colorfulness of the words we say that have seen people from far and wide coming to embrace as authentically Jamaican. Patwa also uses graphics that readily resonate with both locals and visitors to our island.
YardEdge: What was your vision?
Heneka: The vision of Patwa is to be a brand that is synonymous with innovation, creativity and quality. Our aim is to that anyone who wears Patwa will have an enriching experience. We aim to develop a greater appreciation for and acceptance of the unique Jamaican expressions and other cultural forms.
YardEdge: What are you trying to achieve?
Heneka: Patwa will be a brand that is rated among the most established both in Jamaica as well as internationally. We will have outlets islandwide and overseas to cater to the demands of our customers.
YardEdge: How has it been going so far?
Heneka: We have been able to move from a mere idea to the point where we are getting the product to our customers. So far we have identified where we are, where we want to be and what it will take for us to get there.
It has been exciting learning about building a brand – one that provides total customer satisfaction. Our customers are really interested in knowing more about us. Seeing your customers wearing a product that you have created provides a sense of immense gratification.
So essentially, things are going well and we are especially excited about executing the plans we have to develop the line. Our target market is becoming more aware and interested about the brand’s experience.
YardEdge: Tell us about the line?
Heneka: Currently we have tees, shorts, skirts, etc but are focusing on the tees for which there is a greater demand. Our current line boasts a variety of colours with a simple message on each piece. The colours reflect the boldness of our people.
The expressions are intended for laughs only and should not be taken seriously for example ‘nuh badda mi’ (leave me alone.) and ‘a wah duh dem’ (what’s their problem?). I especially like to wear these when I pass through the immigration desk at the airport.
YardEdge: Tell us about yourself?
Heneka: Despite growing up experiencing a number of challenging times in my life, I always use the lemons life issue me to make lemonade. I came from extremely humble beginnings and so most of my inspiration comes from always wanting to achieve the best in anything that I do.
For me the glass is always half full. A challenge for me is an opportunity to learn and grow as I know with God all things are possible.
YardEdge: Biggest challenges and successes?
Heneka: The main challenging was taking Patwa from an idea into a reality. Finding creative ways of establishing brand awareness for the product on a non-existent marketing budget has also been a challenge.
Getting your target market to buy into something that is not yet established can be difficult; consumers tend to be extremely brand conscious – if they don’t know anything about a brand they will be hesitant about its purchase.
Based on findings from our market research we have purposed to constantly innovate in order to survive this rather competitive market.
Another challenge over the years has been the fact that I held a full time job in the field of procurement whilst running this business. This afforded me limited time to build and experience the growth necessary.
After seeking God wholehearted and receiving the same response from Him each time however, I decided that I had to make a move of faith in March of this year. I had to choose and I chose the one for which I am most passionate about.
Given the points made earlier, I would regard the various media coverage that the line has received as a major accomplishment. For example appearances at CVM at Sunrise, TVJ’s Smile Jamaica It’s Morning Time, the Gleaner, Jamaica Tourist, and the Miami Herald, among several others. In addition, I have managed to singlehanded land contracts with outlets within my target market for distribution.
YardEdge: Plans for the future?
Heneka: Patwa Apparel is currently operated as a sole proprietorship. We will definitely be changing this status in short order to a Limited Liability Company where we can appoint a Board of Directors to oversee the running of the company. This is in an effort to have greater protection as we look to experience exponential growth.
Another major plan for Patwa is to develop a line which will be distinctly different from the many that are on the market. This is what the brand will build on to create brand awareness and get noticed.
YardEdge: Where is the line available?
Currently, Patwa Apparel is available online at patwaapparel.com, it is also distributed by Fi Wi Brandish, Things Jamaican, Superclubs resorts, Ritz Carlton, Rose Hall Resort, Collectibles, Artique, Casa de Xaymaca, Reggae Vibes, etc. You can also contact 876-849-2571 to place orders.
Boutique/store operators interested in distributing the line can also make contact with us.
YardEdge: Anything else you want to add…
Heneka: I would to encourage anyone with a dream that they should pursue such with their all. Strive to attain your goals at all times and never let your impoverished circumstance be a distraction.
Align yourself to the right people, read the right books and most importantly seek God in all you do. All these ingredients form part of a recipe for success.