Lyndel Paris: Cocoa is gold. We need to increase the awareness of its value
By Andrea Louis
A trained project manager who discovered her love for entrepreneurship through her relationship with agriculture has chosen to raise awareness of the versatility of the cocoa product through her company Cocoa LaBelle.
Lyndel Paris of Marigot grew up in multi-crop farming, and a few years ago, her family decided to focus on one crop: cocoa.
"I developed a love and passion for cocoa when, about 15 years ago, my family and I started concentrating our agriculture on cocoa," she said. "Then I started thinking of ways to add value to cocoa instead of just selling dried beans, cocoa sticks, or cocoa balls."
Another reason Paris started this journey was her awareness of the importance of using more natural, less processed products.
"I grew a passion for creating things, specifically with natural skin care. One of the things that thrust me into this was my interest in using only natural skin care products," Paris said.
The combination of interest in cocoa and healthy skin care products saw the birth of Cocoa LaBelle.
"Cocoa LaBelle is a locally owned and operated business focused on developing skin care products from cocoa," she said."During my research, I understood that cocoa is really good and brings out beauty in all of us, hence the company name Cocoa LaBelle."
Cocoa LaBelle is also on a continuous drive to educate Dominicans on the qualities and benefits of cocoa. Lyndel genuinely believes more people should become involved in growing and harvesting the crop.
"Dominica is one of the nine countries in the world able to grow 100% fine or flavour cocoa, meaning the cocoa is naturally flavoured," she said. "In 2017, Dominica, through Paris Family Farm Inc. in Marigot, won an award from the International Cocoa of Excellence Competition in France."
This certification further inspired Lyndel that she is on the right track with her company, producing; cocoa body scrub, cocoa butter lip balm, lip oil, body balm, and body butter.
Juggling her commitments as a mom, solopreneur, and project manager has made Lyndel's career as a businesswoman quite colourful.
"My hands are full, but I am passionate about it," she said. "The journey has been exciting, rewarding, and challenging. Tiring, as it takes a lot of work and time. Mostly I am excited when I see results or hear testimonials about people enjoying the product and the results. It is really rewarding."
Paris also shared that as the sole employee of her company, daily self-motivation is essential.
"Sometimes it can be a lonely journey, and you must be the driving force behind yourself," Paris said. "But, remembering my passion and feedback from the people and I can see results helps remotivate me and not give up."
Being in the business for over three years, Paris recommends making the entrepreneurial landscape easier to navigate for creative thinkers.
"As an entrepreneur, you must include packaging, labelling, etc. Because we are limited in Dominica, we only have some resources. Therefore we have to import, which is challenging and costly," she said. "I would be happy if those duties/fees could be waived for entrepreneurs to make the journey easier for us."
As for the future, "It looks great; I don't plan on giving up any time soon. There are some other things I need to put in place, like getting employees," she chuckled. "There is so much I have planned and written down in my journal. Also, other products are in the works; I'm always making or testing something out."
The number of entrepreneurs in Dominica is growing as people aim to meet demand or solve problems they observe in society. To this end, Lyndel advises these individuals to "never give up, even if you start with one product or one thing, just start. My mantra on this journey as an entrepreneur comes from one of my favourite books, 'Big Magic', which says, "Live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than fear".