Javed Laurent
Javed Laurent

Hurricane Maria's devastation wreaked on the island, coupled with pure curiosity and an urge to experiment, led Javed Laurent to discover his hidden talent for designing and creating woodcraft, which he displays through his small company, Vanity Crafts.

During an interview with The Sun, Laurent said exploring woodcraft was borne from surfing content after Maria.

"I saw a lot of videos online about people doing things with resin. So, when my dad travelled to Guadeloupe, I asked him to bring back some resin for me," he said. "I started experimenting and getting better. Eventually, I decided to see if this could be a source of income. People got interested and started placing orders, especially for customized items."

Javed began dabbling with resin and woodwork in 2017. He became serious about the enterprise – which makes keychains, earrings, pendants, and other small wooden jewellery - in 2019.

"If you are passionate about your work, it will be amazing and fun," he said. "Sometimes, I get strange orders where I have to do a lot of research or get creative with mixing resins and colours. If it works out, great. If it fails, then I learn something from the failure."

Laurent shared that feedback from clients is among the most fulfilling aspects of this work.

"What I love most is seeing an idea come to life; the money is good, too," he laughed. "Sometimes I look back on things I made and I'm like 'waw! I made that?' Often, I have someone deliver the product so I don't see the client. One day, I met a lady with a customized keyring she received as a birthday gift. When I told her I made it, she was like, 'Really?! You made that?' So yeah, it is a special joy to know people like your work."

Conversely, he pointed to the main difficulties he faces running his business.

"Time and space are the biggest challenges," he said. "I originally wanted to build a workshop where I could spend hours honing my craft. But I use the family kitchen, so I have to wait until everyone goes to sleep to do my work. Also, you can stay awake and alert for only so many hours before making errors due to tiredness."

The entrepreneur has several nuggets of wisdom for those considering the field of self-employment.

"Firstly, never give up," Laurent said. "Secondly, if you are making something, make it to an international standard; that way, you will always have a good quality product."

Javed encourages budding entrepreneurs to develop a network that includes those who have made notable strides in the industry.

"Take advice from entrepreneurs who have been where you are, started from the bottom, and are very successful," he said. " Like Jodie Dublin-Dangleben, she's great to talk to and can guide you on how to get from point A to point B. Also, the DYBT and NDFD offer programmes to help small business owners."

Laurent laments that the wider public views entrepreneurs as unhelpful towards each other and says this is far from the truth.

"When you speak to people, you think entrepreneurs are reluctant to share information, but it is not that," Laurent said. "People are willing to share and see others succeed because sometimes, where I may get stuck, I may progress and reap great benefits, so why would I want to keep someone back to see them not succeed?"

Though passionate about his work, Javed admits he is taking a health hiatus but is ready to dive into the world of creative craft when possible.

"Normally, when I work with resins, I use a respirator, goggles, and all proper protective gear," he said. "However, I would sometimes skip the protective gear when I was in a hurry. I believe the fumes from the resin caused early-onset glaucoma, which was diagnosed. So, I'm on pause but look forward to resuming soon."