Josiah Russell: it is self-fulfilling to achieve a dream
By Andrea Louis
Desirous of putting Dominica on the map with a high-end, top-tier product rooted in the island's indigenous heritage is Josiah Russell, owner of Wooty Creed Enterprises.
His current focus revolves around creating Boldface Vodka, a small-batch, hand-crafted local vodka that possesses an aura of intrigue and uniqueness, catching the attention of a broad spectrum of enthusiasts.
"My background is in the high-end luxury industry", the entrepreneur explained. "I wanted to create a product that would keep me in that field and still be uniquely Dominican, so I chose vodka".
In his quest for authenticity, Russell unearthed a hidden gem in Dominica: cassava, a key ingredient for crafting a vodka, indigenous to the island.
Russell revealed entrepreneurship pulses through his veins, a trait he undoubtedly inherited from his earlier ventures.
"From high school, I raised chickens, sold eggs, reared animals, and ultimately sold them," he said.
"So, I have always been involved in those things (business ventures) and probably inherited them from my parents. In my previous career, I generally sat behind the desk for a very long time and thought now is the time to venture into the realm of self-reliance".
The businessman added that his path to crafting a local vodka was a long time in the making.
"It was a journey that started in 2014," he said. " I did courses, trial and error, and countless online video tutorials—all while juggling the demands of a full-time job. Gradually, I realized this is what I want to focus on. My journey was not plagued with difficulties, but more of a time constraint element in wanting to do what I love versus what I needed to do to pay the bills."
Reassured in his choice to craft a cassava-based vodka, Russell disclosed several rewarding aspects of this line of work.
"Apart from the financial reward, it is a very self-fulfilling thing for me to know I had that dream - to produce a unique product that stands out and differentiates itself from anything else on the market – and I achieved it," Russell said.
His commitment to paying homage to Dominica's indigenous people boosts Josiah's confidence that he is on the right track with his product.
"If you look at the market, you won't find a cassava-based vodka anywhere in the Caribbean," he smiled proudly. "All vodkas have a story. Before Columbus, the Kalinago used cassava to make wine; we took that same concept, modernized it and turned it into a spirit; that is why you'll see 'Caribbean indigenous vodka' on our branding. It is us giving credit to where it started."
However, the intrigue doesn't end there. Boldface also offers a cocoa-infused vodka, where roasted cocoa is intertwined with the spirit—a flavour profile truly unparalleled. There is no other cocoa-infused vodka on the market either. Russell's vision is as ambitious as his creations. He aims to ascend the spirits industry while staying grounded in his local roots, a challenge he welcomes with open arms.
Russell told The Sun it is only uphill from here as he seeks to grow the business while keeping it local yet easily acceptable on the international market.
He describes his experience at the recent showcase at Ti Vilaj Kweyol as a launchpad for his exceptional vodka, garnering accolades from visitors and locals alike.
Regarding ways to improve the business climate for Dominica's entrepreneurs, Russell believes "it starts with the community, buying local. From the authorities, there is more talk than action, but on the flip side, I have seen some supporting action. Also, I believe there should be more hand-holding (mentoring) for entrepreneurs. Lastly, the banks could have more faith in us regarding financing."
Russell's advice is simple yet profound to those contemplating taking that leap of faith into entrepreneurship.
"Go for it, no matter what it is," he said. "Do your research and make the sacrifice because you won't achieve anything without sacrifice."