|"Everyone in Jamaica loves music"
|Meet the maker:
Joan Webley has always loved the sound of needle
on vinyl. Her childhood brings back memories of
her parents’ record player and she remembers
listening to the cassette version of Coolio’s
Gangsta’s Paradise for two solid months. This
passion for music has shaped Joan’s career. She
worked in the entertainment industry in Australia
for three years, first as a junior publicist and
booking agent, while training to be a barrister,
and later representing film makers on copyright
issues after being admitted to legal practice.
Returning to Jamaica in 2008, the 28-year-old has
been steadily training and implementing other
developmental initiatives. She has now set up a
cultural centre where artists, including musicians,
film makers and writers, are aided in making a
commercial success out of what they do.
|The golden opportunity:
When most people think of music and Jamaica,
they tend to think about reggae.
And yet, says Joan, the country has a “ridiculous”
number of talented musicians from a variety
of genres, from pop to rock, indie to country.
“Everyone in Jamaica loves music,” she says.
The opening of live music venues is on the rise
and the music industry is growing. But Jamaican musicians rarely become famous overseas
because there is so little opportunity, or expertise,
for them to sustainably develop and innovatively
commercialise their talent at home. The same can
be said for the efforts of the film, fashion, craft
and other creative industries.
Drawing on her experience in entertainment
law, Joan decided to set up her company Nanook
Enterprises to help talented musicians, film
makers and writers make a living from their art.
|The business in a nutshell:
Nanook Enterprises is based on Burlington Ave.,
Kingston’s unofficial Entertainment District,
and is home to the Creative Industries’ Resource
Centre & Learning Environment (C.I.R.C.L.E.). It’s
a one-stop shop for budding Jamaican artistes,
offering business and legal advice, training and
support. The C.I.R.C.L.E. also has its own recording
studio and performance space, and facilitates the
provision of key services at “industry rates”.
Since Joan set up the company over a year ago,
she has used her legal background to offer
workshops on issues such as basic copyright
and intellectual property. The company is now
offering the workshop content as e-books, and
further products are planned.
||I’ve always enjoyed feeling
like I’ve found something new and
I believe that Nanook will discover
fresh Jamaican talent.
||- Joan Webley
How it's helping the Community:
Joan’s company is unifying the Jamaican arts
scene. Too often, theatre or film companies, and
musicians, do their work in isolation. Nanook
connects artists: people who don’t have a car
find all they need under one roof to fulfil their
potential, and artists can collaborate and learn
from each other.
Joan also believes the creative industries contain
real solutions to Jamaica’s economic problems.
“Enriching local film, music and culture has a
significant effect, and can address many societal
ills” she says. “I also hope that Nanook will be
a way for expat Jamaicans to stay in touch and
contribute to their country and also provide
opportunities for collaboration for overseas
The future looks bright:
Having learnt from past mistakes, the biggest of
which was adding too much value too soon, Joan
is planning to progress the business in stages.
She wants to first concentrate on launching a
range of six e-books based on existing Nanook
workshops. Next, in 2012, the plan is to open a
café at C.I.R.C.L.E. It will be a space for people
to network and share their ideas. Joan will
employ four marketing interns to offer advice
to C.I.R.C.L.E. customers. She’ll start to offer paid
membership to C.I.R.C.L.E., so there’s regular income for the company, and members of the
Diaspora will be invited to re-connect and
collaborate with members of the C.I.R.C.L.E. Joan
would also like to develop a publishing arm to
introduce new talent internationally.
- Current number of employees: One
- Expected number of employees in three
years’ time: 10
- Current annual turnover: $750,000 (Jamaican)
- Expected annual turnover in three years’
time: $7.5 million (Jamaican)
- Investment to date: Personal savings and
- Location of headquarters: 20 Burlington
Avenue. Kingston 10, Jamaica