Basseterre, St. Kitts (July 13, 2016) — The daughter of a seamstress, Ms Petrina Warner, could operate a home sewing machine at age 12 when she lived with her mother at Market Street in Central Basseterre. A number of years later, fast forward to 2016, Ms Warner has graduated from using her mother’s sewing machines and is the proud owner of her own clothing label.
She left high school at an early age and got employed at a factory, and while still employed she did sewing as a part time job. She however became a fulltime seamstress after getting discharged from her factory job on medical grounds as she could not stand for long hours.
After leaving the factory job she decided to be self-employed and using the skills that she had gained in sewing, she set up business at her home in Stone Fort, Challengers. With the growth of the business she made a move and opened a small shop on the western end of Central Street in Basseterre.
“After five years working from that shop, I went to the Development Bank last December because I wanted more stock in the shop, machines, mannequins, and fabric,” said Ms Warner. “They were having Fresh Start loans which were tailored for small businesses like mine and I need the push.”
Opposite her small business place is the Five-Ways Building, which at that time had available space for rent on the ground floor and she felt it would be ideal for her as it was relatively spacious.
“I moved after the loan was approved: It is the Fresh Start Programme that made the movement possible,” said Ms Warner. “The other place was so small. I moved to a bigger place and I bought six new sewing machines, the hemmer, then I purchased a steamer for ironing purposes and mannequins.”
She got some material from Trinidad and some from Nigeria and this is what she said of the material from Nigeria: “Those don’t stay with me because there is a huge demand for African fabrics and colours by the young people, so they are always here making skirts, making clothing.”
Her label is PeCarty, and she makes school uniforms for a number of schools, including the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC). At the time of the interview, she was busy making prom and graduation clothing, and observed that because of the expansion she had employed a seamstress.
“I also started a snackette, so the business is two in one,” said Ms Warner. “When I went for the Fresh Start loan I looked at the location and I realised that there is a lot of space and I said the kitchen was appropriate for a snackette to accommodate the kids and the students at the CFBC, and so I got to purchase a little bit of stuff and so I now own a snackette.
“I would advise people in small businesses like me to take the advantage and go and venture out and start their own business. It will be benefitting them and the Development Bank will accommodate them. The Development Bank supports small businesses and they are very helpful. I am satisfied that the Development Bank is there for the small people.”
Ms Warner was one of the several business clients of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis who participated in the Business Fair hosted at the Independence Square by the bank as part of its 35thAnniversary Celebrations, and she reported that she was glad that she did because she was able to get more clients.
“I had a lot of exposure, new clients, and more business,” she said. “It was wonderful for me. It was a good advertisement for me, as persons would stop and ask me where my business was located. Oh yes, I was honoured to have the Prime Minister to come to my booth and look at my section.”
Like all business clients at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, Ms Petrina Warner has the constant backing of the bank’s Business Support Unit. Mr Lockhart Alleyne, Business Support Technical Officer at Development Bank is the officer who assisted Ms Warner put her business plan together.
According to Mr Alleyne, the business is doing very well and it has clearly demonstrated how the Fresh Start Programme was able to help her move beyond where she was into a position where now she needs even more material and her client base has expanded.
“Having worked with her, and seeing her personality she is somebody who is hardworking I invited her to take part in our Business Fair held at the Independence Square,” explained Mr Alleyne. “She was excited because I told her it would be an opportunity for her to showcase what she sells and she jumped at the opportunity without any problems. She was actually the first to set up.”