Judy Pierre: Using the traditions passed down from my grandmother
A mother of five and an agricultural science and math teacher with a keen knowledge of the health benefits of Dominica's plants, she has made it her life's mission to introduce these healing properties to the public.
Judy Pierre is the founder of Nature's Finest Products, a manufacturing company that creates all-natural hair and skin products, including soaps, oils, shampoos, butter, and rubs, to name a few.
"We are using the traditions passed from my grandmother to my mother and me," Pierre shared with The Sun. "I am also passing these techniques to my children as they help with the business."
Judy, who always wanted to own and operate an enterprise, started Nature's Finest Products during COVID-19 when her family was financially strained.
"Initially, we wanted to make coconut oil; however, we acquired two humongous bags of castor seeds and made castor oil," she said. "It sold quickly, and my customers described it as liquid gold."
From castor oil, Judy and her partner branched out to making coconut oil using methods taught to her by her mother.
"My mother would chastise me for not listening to her, but I was paying attention subconsciously," she laughed.
Judy's line of products expanded to soaps – after researching and experimentation to create the ideal formula – then butter and rubs, the method for which, unsurprisingly, was passed on to her by her mother.
Despite using the tried-and-true traditions of her foremothers, Pierre has experienced her fair share of challenges running her two-year-old company.
"At the beginning, the journey was simpler, but it is a rough one," Judy admitted, "Financing is one of the major factors of a business. You need Financing. But I started with basically zero dollars and cents, so that has been a bit tasking."
Pierre remains forever grateful to the Dominica Youth Business Trust (DYBT) for their assistance and training along this path and recommends anyone contemplating self-employment to seek their guidance.
Her other pieces of advice to entrepreneurs-to-be are "firstly, go for it; secondly, document everything; also, marketing is important, talk about your product any chance you get; always give back to your community, no matter how small; additionally, provide quality products, don't exploit your customers; finally, never give up."
Pierre, who puts God first in all she does, has also struggled with the urge to give up when things become overwhelming.
"Sometimes you must be your cheerleader, especially when no one else is pushing you on," she said. "Whenever I feel like giving up, God always sends someone to tell me to keep going."
To this end, Judy showers praise on her clients for their support during her journey; she also utilizes the Facebook and WhatsApp platforms for clients to keep updated on her products.
"The patronage from the public has been tremendous, and they really motivate me," she said. "My customers receiving the results they want, saying the product is amazing, that it did what they wanted, and more really keeps me going."
Another sign that Judy is following her calling is that her company, Nature's Finest Products, is one of three in Dominica selected to participate in the Green Growth Initiative (GGI) programme. In light of the support from her clients and her determination to do right in her business, Pierre opines that other entities can take measures to assist local entrepreneurs.
"Something that can be done is offer duty-free when importing items from overseas," Judy said. "Additionally, action can be taken to make it easier to export our products. Also, authorities should provide more accessible funding. And, a space for local entrepreneurs to showcase, market, and sell their products would be great."
As for the future of Nature's Finest Products, Judy would ideally like to "employ a lot of people, open my factory, have my company be a household name locally, regionally and internationally. And, I would like to contribute to the economy a bit more."