10 Guyanese Women Launch Businesses During the Pandemic

Shafeena Milton
Photo Courtesy: Shafeena Milton

“You will get to the empire that you dream of someday, but you need to start with the little that you have now, no matter how small it is.” — Alicia Obermuller, Founder of Fuego Box 

While COVID-19 has taken its toll on the world, entrepreneurs were forced to remain home and find new sources of income. In this piece, 10 Guyanese women used creativity to launch and monetize their brands that are growing.

1. FuegoBox

FuegoBox specializes in the distribution of organic and cruelty-free holistic skincare products, such as shea butter bar soaps in turmeric and lavender, among others. The brand was launched on Nov. 23, 2020, by Alicia Obermuller, a law student at the University of London who took a risk and, almost overnight, created her business.


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Coming from what Obermuller describes as a “very humble background,” she is the first one of her siblings to finish high school, attend university and start her own company. 

“It is a dream I never thought would have come into fruition because of all of the issues that you have growing up and the inability to acquire certain things. Looking back at my younger self, I would say to me, ‘thank you for making those decisions — to finish school, to get educated, to be the pusher as I always have been to get certain things done.’”

A diagnosis of endometriosis propelled the entrepreneur to source products to treat the side effects of her condition. There was a need to be conscious about what she places on her body and in her hair. 

Referring to her customers as friends, Obermuller expressed her goal is not to sell products but to offer help to other women in Guyana who have been suffering from endometriosis.

“Guyana doesn’t focus much on endometriosis. We don’t even have a specialist here but there are many young women that are suffering from this illness. It’s a major reproductive health issue, so I think more should be done for it.”

Despite the hardships associated with the pandemic, Fuego Box’s products have been in demand resulting in her opening a second location. 

To learn more about Fuego Box check out their Facebook page.

2. Galaxy Book Hub

Shafeena Milton is a third-year Pharmaceutical student at the University of Guyana who recently launched an online bookstore called Galaxy Book Hub. As an avid reader, Milton’s aspiration was always to own a bookstore. 

“I was just by myself and I jokingly decided to plan what it would be like if I had a bookstore, and then and there I decided the name, the theme, the slogan, and what I would sell. It was wishful thinking then because, in reality, I didn’t have the courage to pull it off.” 

As part of her New Year’s resolution, Milton reflected on the COVID-19 death toll. She accepted that life would be this way for a while and yet created a reading outlet through it all.

Milton’s interest in mental health is reflected in her company’s mission statement, Reading is medicine for the soul.”

Aside from wanting to provide therapy for persons in need through science, I was also able to channel my feelings of wanting to help persons reduce anxiety and stress through simple actions. I feel quite strongly about mental health and healthy coping mechanisms.”

To see special events and promotions head on over to their Facebook page.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Influencers who Will Spruce up Your Newsfeed]

3. The Lil Blondie Bakery 

Currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Literature and Linguistics at the University of Guyana, Chantal Jagoo officially launched The Lil Blondie Bakery, in January of this year. Jagoo specializes in making and selling blondies, which are blonde brownies made specifically out of white chocolate. 

Jagoo explained that during the first few months of the pandemic, she became interested in baking brownies and asked her mother to buy some chocolate chips for her. What Jagoo deemed “a happy accident” occurred when the grocery store only had white chocolate chips available. 

“So, I went ‘okay, I know about these things called blondies, I’ll try them.’ They came out so good and my friends told me I should sell them.”

Jagoo was hesitant to start her business but is happy to have done so after seeing the demand for her treats. She experimented with different recipes and now offers her blondies with Oreo, M&M, peanut butter, and red velvet, among other flavors. 

“I don’t think it would have even crossed my mind. Before the pandemic, starting a business was something that felt very out of reach for me. It just felt like something I wouldn’t or couldn’t do. But, the pandemic definitely changed my mindset on that.”

Check out Lil Blondie Bakery on Instagram.

4. Art and Adriel

Earlier this year, 19-year-old Adriel Lachmansingh launched Art and Adriel, a brand that creates embroidered canvas art.

Quarantined and following emerging trends on social media, Lachmansingh encountered canvas embroidery which is not widely practiced in Guyana. 

“Without the pandemic, that trend never would’ve happened and I never would have heard of canvas embroidery. I’m definitely here because of covid.”


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Lachmansingh posted finished pieces on social media and soon found that her friends kept expressing a willingness to pay for her art. She soon realized there was a market for the product.

“When I start over on the new canvas, I have the old one to look at and I come up with new ways to rejuvenate this old canvas. It kind of proves that beautiful things can come out of something old or used.”

Stay updated on Adriel’s latest creations by following her on Instagram!

5. Dav’s Designs


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Dav’s Designs, a custom personalization business, was created by 20-year-old Davonna Bess. The University of Guyana student was looking for a job that could align with her class schedule, however, due to the pandemic, jobs were scarce. 

“Everybody says a 9-5 job is the goal, but it’s really nice working with yourself. You can make the time to focus on your mental health which is, I think, a big problem for those who work for people and can’t control their schedules.”

Bess was always creative and despite her small business beginning as a bit of a hobby, she hopes to continue on this path for as long as she is able. Dav’s Designs features greeting cards for every special occasion. Bess also sells coffee mugs and bottles and is currently venturing out into trinkets such as key chains. 

 “Our slogan is ‘creating your curiosity,’ because it is basically in the customer’s hand. Whatever they want, I can do it. They have the option to customize every part of the product.”

Given that Dav’s Designs is online, Bess explains that despite the pandemic, her business has been profitable since most consumers resorted to online spaces for goods.

Check Dav out on Instagram to stay updated.

6. The Book Cub

Another online bookstore, The Book Cub, owned by siblings, Shivanie and Lakanad Singh began offering a wide selection of books to avid Guyanese readers in August of 2020.

Initially, a book review site, Shivanie received numerous inquiries regarding the accessibility of the reviewed novels.

“The pandemic was a catalyst for it [the business]…and it’s been good because it turns out a lot of people are reading right now. We really didn’t expect this sort of response.”  

Shivanie and Lakanand, who are 24 and 27 years old respectively, have returned to their full-time jobs that were previously in furlough. This has created a bit of a challenge in terms of time management, but it doesn’t deter them from operations and servicing their regulars. 

Integrity and quality service is key for us, it is what keeps us going and why so many of our “cubs” enjoy the conversations and interactions we have. We are building a family, not a business, and it brings us much joy to see someone’s smile and excitement as we deliver their books to them.” 


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Carrying the slogan, ‘Therapy for the soul and mind,’ The Book Cub is here to stay, even when the pandemic eventually passes. 

Learn more by checking out their Instagram.

7. Handmade by Hema

Influenced by the encouragement of her friends and family, the 20-year-old Hema Persaud opened Handmade by Hema in July of 2020. Persaud’s business specializes in handmade and personalized cards, bookmarks among other gift items. 

“I love when people give me little themes or reminders based on inside jokes or memories, or the likes of the person they’re gifting them to because the card would mean more to them than just a folded piece of paper.”

Persaud is committed to the feeling that accompanies satisfying a customer’s demand, rather than the money that might come from it. 

“It may seem small but it’s actually what I look forward to most when I create an order – the expressions of my customers when I give them their cards really motivates me.”


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Persaud also explained that she often felt anxious about other people’s opinions or critiques of her work, which initially almost prevented her from selling her handmade products. However, it is because of her business that she was able to become more comfortable and confident in herself.

Stay updated by following Handmade by Hema on Instagram.

8. Ready Set Boutique

Carrying the slogan, ‘Where Fashion is Made Easy,’ Alisha Hurt has fused convenience with fast fashion and is fit to serve busy women and working mothers. Hurt, who is of Guyanese descent, currently resides in Atlanta.

The 30-year-old mother of two, who holds a bachelor’s in Health and Business Administration, launched Ready Set Boutique on Nov. 22, 2020, with the encouragement of her husband.  

“I became a stay-at-home mom and I knew that I needed something that I loved doing, but didn’t require me to go back to a 9-5 job…I started feeling like I was losing myself and I didn’t shop like how I used to. I knew other women were feeling like this as well.”

[btx_image image_id=”86609″ link=”/” position=”center” size=”medium_large” on_click=”none”]Photo Courtesy of Alisha Hurt[/btx_image]

Hurt sells trendy women’s clothing, including matching sets, jumpsuits, and dresses. Her goal is to make the task of shopping easy through e-commerce. 

At times operating a small business can be overwhelming, Hurt reminders herself that the growth takes time. She expressed that she often has to tell herself that things will work out in the long run as long as she remains “consistent, works hard, and continues to stay passionate.”

“It’s really about helping every woman know that they can feel beautiful even with two kids or even if they’re super tired from work. There’s time for you as well.”

Check out the boutique’s items on their website or Instagram.

9. Phoenix Line

Currently based in Virginia, Ashona Gomes is responsible for launching Pheonix Line a company that specializes in hand-poured candles and coasters.  The 31-year-old launched her business on Jan. 31, 2021. Gomes also expressed COVID-19 didn’t have a negative effect on her business, but rather helped her.

“I think everyone had so much time on their hands because they had to be at home. This was the perfect time to start a business.”

Gomes shared that she does “a little bit of everything.” Her products are of a wide variety consisting of all handmade items including candles, wine trays, ashtrays and more.

[btx_image image_id=”86783″ link=”/https://www.etsy.com/shop/PhoenixLine?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=1016276134″ position=”center” size=”medium_large”]Phoenix Line on Etsy[/btx_image]

Gomes works with resin and anticipates expanding her business very soon to include resin coffee tables, also body butter, and face scrubs. Eventually, she hopes to produce her very own homemade wine. Phoenix line products can be customized.

“I’m all about catering to my customers, trying new things, and expanding my craft. If you want something specific, I can do that. I customize it to your liking.”

Gomes’ hopes to one day own a physical boutique where customers can physically shop for her products and attend her candle-making classes while sipping on some wine. 

You can find items from Phoenix Line via Etsy.

10. Indo Caribbean Bride Magazine

Founded on Oct. 21, 2019, Indo-Caribbean Bride Magazine is a digital publication dedicated to highlighting wedding vendors, beauty and wedding planning for the Indo-Caribbean community.

The 23-year-old founder Shivane Chandool, expressed that a classmate’s three words of, “just do it” combined with a desire to place a spotlight on her culture were what motivated her to actually go ahead and start her business.

“I am a person that’s very passionate and I was sort of saddened by the lack of media representation on the Indo-Caribbean community and about us in general. So, I really wanted to make that a priority, and I thought weddings were the perfect thing to showcase.”

The pandemic was a major setback for the magazine as it severely affected the wedding industry. It also resulted in her decision to create content that involves posting brides and grooms and giving out advice to those reaching out to the platform. The young founder is looking forward years after.

[btx_image image_id=”86738″ link=”/” position=”center” size=”medium_large” on_click=”none”]Photo Courtesy of Shivane Chandool[/btx_image]

To learn more about Indo Caribbean Bride Magazine visit their website here.

The common theme among these women entrepreneurs is that an idea or passion can turn into a monetized business. After thorough research, talking to peers and experts and executing a plan, these women took the leap. It takes perseverance and as Obermuller stated, “you will get to the empire that you dream of someday.”

By Rhea Mursalin

Rhea Mursalin is currently an undergraduate student at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where she is pursuing a … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›

Fireside Chat With Debut Author Sophie Jai

sophie jai
sophie jai

 I grew up in a household of strong Trinidadian women. I wanted to write about strong Trinidadian women, the roles they play, their histories and their backgrounds. — Sophie Jai  

“Wild Fires” by Sophie Jai is a story about one Trinidadian family’s journey through grief, identity and memory. Jai’s debut novel takes readers on a journey of a past Trinidad and present-day Canada. 


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In conversation with Jai, we talk about Caribbean stories, the psychology of a house and what makes a family. The following answers have been abridged and edited for clarity and concision.

[Read Related: Author Kirtie Persaud on Representation for Indo Caribbean Girls, Motherhood and Balance ]

 What inspired you to write “Wild Fires?”

I first started writing it for submission to a competition with the Borough Press. I wasn’t sure what story I wanted to write because I felt obligated to write certain stories or write in a certain style. I pretty much got fed up and started questioning myself. When I put pen to paper and got serious, the story that came out was a story of grief not necessarily specific to my life. I knew I wanted it to be about a family going through grief for decades, and how grief can arrest and impact the family structure.

When you first started writing, which part of the story came out?

It was the very first chapter. The first three chapters of the book came naturally. What you read in the book is untouched from the first draft that I submitted. I knew it was about a family that was going through grief. I knew I wanted it to take place between Trinidad and Toronto because I was born and raised in Trinidad and lived in Toronto. I wanted that sort of cross-generational mixture of family in the book as well – to see how each generation dealt with grief.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I don’t think I knew. It’s just one of those things that you think is impossible, so there’s no point dreaming about it. But when I was a young girl in Trinidad, I imagined myself carrying a leather briefcase and I don’t know why, but I knew I was going somewhere important, and I had something important to do. I always loved writing, but the truth is people get in the way and they dissuade you. It’s all around you – that the arts is not a viable career and if you pursue it, you have a 95% chance of failure. But after working 10 office jobs in three years, I’m like, ‘I’m not happy,’ so this is actually the failure. I knew I needed change.

How do you navigate the space of being told that art is not a viable career, especially in the Indo Caribbean community?

Those challenges were around me all the time. It wasn’t even my family, but it even comes from friends and acquaintances. When you’re young, being an artist is hard, and you’re told there’s no point in doing it. I listened to people who said that, and got office jobs and did what everyone else was doing because apparently, that was the way to be happy. Five years passed by and I realized I wasn’t happy and I should have never listened to those people. I started writing. I started doing something that made me happy and treated it as a serious craft. I did not treat it as a hobby, but as something that was going to pave my path. I really worked in a tunneled vision. So I never told anybody what I was doing – I didn’t want to be dissuaded. I had to be my own champion. I know that doesn’t sound healthy, but back in 2012, I didn’t know about community. 

Cassandra, the main character is a writer, like yourself. How much of Cassandra’s story is your story?

My family is very supportive of my writing and it took some time for them to get there. Like many families, they kind of saw it as a hobby. Once they saw that I got published, they took it more seriously. Now, they are supportive of my writing and I think in the book, Cassandra’s family is not that supportive. They just weren’t interested in her writing, which is why she didn’t talk about it. It is a little bit reflective of my own experience. 


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Is the rest of the book based on a true story?

It wasn’t based on a true story. That is something I get asked often – a lot of people say ‘she’s Trinidad and you’re Trinidadian.’ The places I wrote about are from my memory, but the plot itself is fiction. I wanted to challenge myself to write something truly fictional. I grew up in a household of strong Trinidadian women. I wanted to write about strong Trinidadian women, the roles they play, their histories and their backgrounds. The characters aren’t necessarily based on anyone particular in my  life. Overall, it was a joy to imagine and write it because each one of these characters are very different from the other.

The novel has nine major female characters and at most three major male characters. Why did you want to tell a female-driven story?

I grew up in a family of predominantly women, and most of my Caribbean friends also grew up in families of predominantly women. They really are, in my experience, our caretakers. For me, my family and my friends, our mothers are our worlds – we love and admire them. Family is their priority; raising their children is their priority. I wanted to write about Trinidadian women because I wanted to tell each of their stories. I want more Indo Caribbean and Caribbean women in fiction. I think anything that I write will always be about Caribbean women. I want to contribute to that field of literature. I have such enormous respect for them; all the sacrifices that they’ve gone through to bring their kids to new countries – some of them single moms. There’s nothing else I really want to write about, to be honest.

One of the other things I noticed was keen attention to the setting. How many of these precise details came from your own life, if any of them?

For Trinidad, a lot of it is based on my memory of the island and my home there. But I did have to turn to my family for specific details that I thought I may have imagined. Because I grew up mostly in Toronto. I was insecure about writing about Trinidad, so I went back to my mom and my family, who lived there for over 40 years. In terms of the house in Toronto, some of that is from my experience and some from imagination. I’ve written and talked about this book before, “The Poetics of Space” by Gaston Bachelard, which examines the psychology of houses. I tried to construct a house that would accommodate the psychology of the characters. If the house seems very detailed, it’s because I made it so, to accommodate certain secrets and people’s personalities.

Why explore the psychology of a house?

It’s not an original thought, but I think the way space is organized around us, or the way we organize ourselves in a space dictates physical behavior. If you’re in a wide open space and you don’t know anyone, that can seem intimidating. If you’re in a closed space, that can also seem intimidating. I tried to organize the space to give each character privacy from the other, but then once they were in a common room, it really changed the dynamics of their interactions.

What makes a family?

I think people who have been through challenges with you for years make a family. That’s not even a blood thing – I have friends that are like family because we’ve been through things together over decades. It’s people you’ve experienced highs and lows with, but managed to stick with throughout the years. But ‘family’ can also be people who you haven’t talked to for years, who you’ve had a fragmented relationship with. For those sorts of relationships, it can be an unhealthy loyalty or a wondering of what could have been.

The book doesn’t have a happily-ever-after ending. Why?

Not ending the story in a neat little package was very important to me. I think there’s a certain expectation in storytelling by readers that a story needs a conclusion. And, to me, this is not what actually happens in the real world. The reasons people read a book are different – some people are reading for escapism, others are to better understand cultures and other people – so it depends on the reader and what they’re looking for. In literary fiction, readers are more open to an inconclusive ending because literary fiction can take things to a darker, more serious place than other genres. If I wrapped up the story with a nice little bow, it would be untrue to what this family has gone through. I wanted to show how unsolved issues can pan out. I didn’t want to take the story from a sad beginning to a happy ending. Not all stories end happily.


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What do you want readers to take away from “Wild Fires?”

I set out to write a story that had a universal theme. I wanted to feature a somewhat normal story with Caribbean characters. It wasn’t centered around race or indentureship because a lot of the Indo Caribbean literature that I’ve read has been – and rightly so. That’s where I learned about our history and our stories. But that was not a story that I wanted to tell first because it was not the story that was closest to my heart. When I started writing, I realized the story was really about grief. I wanted to show Caribbean women and Indo Trinidadian women, in a universal light. We are a result of  these histories yet go through normal things like grief, secrets and family dysfunction.

Following the publication of “Wild Fires,” Jai is pursuing her Master’s at Oxford University as a Kellogg’s Scholar. While attending school, she’s looking to write a short story about Caribbean joy to contrast the dark themes of her debut novel and portray Caribbean women in unrepresented ways.  

“Wild Fires” is available in Canada and the UK and will be available in the U.S. in Spring 2023.

Featured Image Courtesy: Sophie Jai

By Usha Sookai

Usha Sookai is an undergraduate student at New York University, studying Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis. With a passion … Read more ›

Nancy Jay: Meet the Indo Caribbean Influencer Breaking the Mold

nancy jay
nancy jay

In an age where algorithms dictate viewership, Nancy Jay uses her love of dance to propel herself onto TikTok’s “for you” pages. Jay is an Indo Guyanese, Bronx native who began dancing at the age of three. As an influencer and content creator, she amassed a social media following of more than 500,000. Versed in many styles of dancing including Caribbean, Bollywood, urban and Latin, Jay can be spotted in soca music videos such as Linky First’s “Rock and Come in” and “Jeune Femme,” Adrian Dutchin’s “Roll” and by soca king Machel Montano’s “Mami Lo Tiene.”

nancy jay
Photo courtesy of Nancy Jay

[Read Related: HGTV’S Hema Persad on Having the Courage to Find Your Purpose]

Many content creators are typecast into the niche but Jay has defied this norm and proclaims she is more than just a dancer.

“I dance, travel, post lifestyle and beauty content. I’m an Indo Caribbean woman who enjoys being myself and promoting my culture. I like showing viewers it is okay to be who they are and embrace what they look like, despite what they see on social media. I did not plan on being a TikToker. As I started posting videos, the love and support I received from viewers was amazing. I have never experienced anything like that before on Instagram, where I started my content journey,” Jay said.

In conversation with Jay, the following answers have been condensed for concision and clarity. 

Why is it important for you to create content related to your Indo Caribbean roots?

Growing up, I never felt represented as an Indo Caribbean on television, in movies, social media or anywhere else. My goal as a content creator is to promote the Indo Caribbean culture through my content and be the representation the Indo Caribbean community needs.

Are there unspoken rules about being a content creator or an Indo Caribbean woman on the platform?

Being an Indo Caribbean woman on TikTok can be challenging when you are trying to find your identity and do not feel represented. 

Jay explains her frustration with the lack of Caribbean representation and acknowledgment from platforms, as well as her goals as a content creator in this video.

@iamnancyjay Anyone else feel this way? Or understand what I’m saying? R E P R E S E N T A T I O N ?? original sound – iamnancyjay

Do you ever experience a block, similar to writer’s block, when it comes to creating content? How do you overcome that?

I have yet to experience a block. However, I do have days where I want to take a break and just relax instead of filming. As a content creator, it is important to take breaks and schedule days to just relax because being a full-time content creator is a 24/7 business. It can be draining and you may lose your sense of reality when you have the mindset that everything is content. I enjoy taking a day or half a day to cook, watch TV or go shopping with my partner without the worry of filming any of it.

How has your social media presence changed your daily life?

When I am in public, supporters approach me to express their love for my content and sometimes ask for a selfie. When I find people staring at me in public now, it’s most likely because they recognize me from social media and not because I look funny.

In May of 2021, I used my platform to reach out to brands and ask for their support in a project I named ‘Nancy Jay Gives Back.’ I put together care packages, using products donated by brands, and drove around the Bronx sharing them with people experiencing homelessness or those in need. Seeing the happiness on their faces upon receiving these bags was priceless. Additionally, I spread some extra joy through dance. I remember one lady telling me she’d never been to a club or party so I told her I’ve brought the party to her and we danced to her favorite genre of music right there on the street.


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Jay plans on continuing this project as her social media presence has grown. 

How has your family reacted to your social presence?

My family has always been supportive of my talents and the path I have chosen. My first public dance performance was at the age of 12. I performed a fusion of Bollywood and chutney music at middle school events. When I got to high school, I participated in our talent show to a fusion of Bollywood, chutney, soca and top 40. I won the talent show three or four times. I also performed for fundraisers organized by mandirs in Queens, the Bronx, weddings, sweet sixteens and other social events. 

My family always came out to support me. They love seeing my content and always encourage me to film and create. My mom in particular tells everyone about my TikTok videos.

While enrolled at John Jay College, Jay founded the first West Indian student organization called “West Indies Massive.” She captained the dance team, taught dance classes and won the talent show multiple times while pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in law and police studies.

Any advice for creators who may not have the support of family?

Do not let this discourage you. If content creation is something you truly want to do, stay consistent and eventually your family will support you for doing what you love. Social media is still new to some and the idea of it being someone’s career or business is new as well. I say be patient. Also, talk to them about your social media goals, as perhaps they do not understand the full picture.

What is your dream partnership and why?

My dream partnership would involve acting. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, preferably a Bollywood actress because I know I would kill those dance numbers (haha!). Also, I would love to partner with Sandals Resorts and bring that Caribbean flavor they should be promoting.

Jay has collaborated with major brands like Samsung Mobile, Norwegian Cruise Line, AC Hotels, Disney Music Group, and Dunkin which is paramount for the Indo Caribbean community.

“I am the first Indo Caribbean woman to work with Norwegian Cruise Line as a content creator. Cruise travel is a huge part of my content journey. I love cruising and creating unique experiences and content. While cruising, I connected with the crew while most people typically do not. I treat everyone with respect,” Jay said 

@iamnancyjay It’s not a cruise unless I dance with the Norwegian Prima crew ??? Drip Too Hard (1er Gaou Mix) – Thejokestation0 • Following

“I started a fun series called ‘Cruise Dances with the Crew’ back in August of 2021. There’s a playlist on TikTok with all of the fun dances. Prior to my first video, I had not seen anyone dancing on cruise ships with the crew. I guess you could say I started that trend.”

Nancy intertwined this partnership with her content and further put herself on the map.

Another pivotal partnership for Jay occurred in March 2021 when Dunkin chose her as one of 10 from a nationwide competition to feature her signature drink on the local menu.

@iamnancyjay I love ordering “The Nancy Jay” @dunkin ?? #dunkin #coffee #icedcoffee #dunkinmenucontest #thenancyjay #BiggerIsBetter #EnvisionGreatness #viral #bx ? original sound – iamnancyjay

How has content creation changed in the past two years?

Within the past two years, my content and style has grown tremendously. My gear list has also grown tremendously. I’ve been a content creator full time for a little over a year now. I have had more time to focus on the presentation and editing of my content.

What else do you want your viewers to not know about you or your work?

I stay true to who I am. Supporters who I’ve met in person can attest that I am the same, in-person and online. I like to keep things relatable, fun and authentic. I am working with a lot of big brands. I try to incorporate dance in all my content to capture my passion, diversity and culture.

I started teaching Caribbean Dance Fitness classes and private dance lessons officially in 2016. Since Covid, I moved everything online. Not only have I helped many learn how to dance but I have also helped build their confidence through dance and expression.

Lastly, I love traveling and encouraging others to live their best life.

Jay is more than a dancer; she is unapologetically herself. She maximizes opportunities and is building a brand that highlights her Indo Caribbean roots – a culture often not highlighted in mainstream media. 

You can stay updated on Jay and the community she’s created by following her on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Featured image courtesy: Nancy Jay

By Ashley Ramcharan

Ashley Ramcharan is Indo-Guyanese and the assistant editor for the Indo-Caribbean team here at Brown Girl Magazine. She developed a … Read more ›