The Branson Centre is propelling
small businesses into
the big time...
Entrepreneur: Alecia James
|"In order to achieve and be a
successful entrepreneur you have to think big"
|Meet the Maker:
Entrepreneurship is not unfamiliar to Alecia. Her
parents have their own transportation business,
so she knew she was born to be an entrepreneur.
She began cooking and baking for her family from
the age of eight, experimenting with flavours. She
went on to specialise in studying food industry
at Jamaica’s University of Technology and landed
her first job at the newly opened Ritz Carlton Rose
Hall Hotel as a cook. Working there for eight years
in the pastry department, Alecia rose through the
ranks to assistant pastry cook. Three years ago,
she took the bold step to start her own business.
Now Alecia’s dream is to manufacture and
distribute cakes and pastries world-wide.
|The golden opportunity:
At the hotel where Alecia used to work, she was
being trained to become the next head pastry
“I was working with the top pastry chef in the
field and was also training with international
professionals but my burning desire to embark
as an entrepreneur was too strong for me to wait
any longer,” says Alecia.
She saw a gap in the commercial cake and bread
market in Jamaica where some yeast-based products are imported from the United States. For
example, about 90% of bagels are imported, which
means they sit on a carrier in the harbour for a
week before they’re even in shops or restaurants.
In 2008, Alecia started her own business, Signature
Cakes, from her home, to fill this gap.
|The business in a nutshell:
Signature Cakes manufactures and distributes
desserts, wedding cakes, specialty cakes and
pastries, for chain restaurants, coffee shops and
The business also specialises in making products
for clients with special dietary needs, such as
gluten or lactose intolerance.
With no money for advertising, Alecia has relied
on word of mouth to market her business – and it
She has won contracts for events and hotels in
this way and has grown her team, employing two
bakers and one delivery person.
||Believe in yourself and
there is no limit to what you
||- Alecia James
How it’s helping the community:
The business provides employment for local
people. As it grows, her staff numbers will
definitely increase. It’s a highly collaborative
business where people can get involved from all
aspects of the community.
|The future looks bright:
Expansion. That’s the plan for Alecia’s business.
Within six months, she intends to move the
business out of her home into a factory so that
she can produce and distribute more products.
Within three years, she’d like to be producing
yeast-based products, like bagels, and see
Jamaica and the Caribbean import less of these
items. The dream is mass production of Jamaican
cakes and breads across the Caribbean, and then
Alecia says: “In order to achieve and be a
successful entrepreneur you have to think big.”
- Current number of employees: Three
- Expected number of employees in three
years’ time: Six
- Current annual turnover: $4.5 million
- Expected annual turnover in three years’
time: $23 million (Jamaican Dollar)
- Investment to date: Self-financing and a small
- Location of headquarters: Based at home in
Montego Bay, Jamaica