December 22, 2013
December 20, 2013
December 18, 2013
I actually felt a wee bit depressed sorting through my photos; my trip to New York was nothing short of amazing and I loved every second of it.
We drove to New York from 'Thanksgivvukah' New Jersey with J's cousins and as the skyline came into view, Mitch started blasting Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' because he knew it was my first time. Thanks for that Mitch, I appreciate the shared sense of humour :) I may even be listening to it as I write this post...
December 16, 2013
*Thanksgivvukah: a holiday name given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day (and second night) of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013. It was the result of a rare coincidence between the lunisolar Hebrew calendar (whose dates reflect both the moon phase and the time of the solar year, and which can have between 353 and 385 days per year) and the Gregorian calendar. Because the calendars are not calculated the same way, Hanukkah appears at a different time each year on the Gregorian calendar. The last time the first day of Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving was in the 1800s. The next time it will happen is in the year 79,811.
I just added that bit of info in there in case any of you were wondering what I was talking about when I first mentioned Thanksgivvukah. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my trip to the States to celebrate the holidays with my boyfriend's family and I've finally managed to sort and edit the gazillion photos I took whilst there. It was such a great week, these photos really don't do it justice.
November 27, 2013
These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of incredible 'firsts' for me - I launched my first start-up, I won my first business pitch, I'm taking my first trip for the year, I'm going to experience my first Thanksgiving, my first Chanukah, as well as my first bite of the Big Apple. On, and as my friends so subtly pointed out to me, I just posted my first 'Couples' photo with J on social media (#lame). It's also the first time that I've had ZERO chance to sit down and blog about my upcoming travels, even though I had a million and one questions to ask everyone; like what to do for Thanksgiving, tips for a Chanukah newbie and of course, New York!
November 25, 2013
Island Sitters won the Automotive Art Entrepreneurship Competition over the weekend!
2 and a half months ago, we entered Island Sitters in to the competition because we saw it as a great opportunity to push ourselves and the Island Sitters concept even further. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in to our entry, and we really gave it our all when it came to pitching our idea. Thankfully, the judges shared our vision for what this company can offer Barbados and the region. What started with a simple, straightforward ‘side business’ has now developed into a full-time start up thanks to the competition.
Sheena and I were really nervous when we attended the prize giving ceremony at Champers Restaurant. The team at Automotive Art decided to countdown the top 5 prize winners, so we nearly passed out when we realized that our name hadn’t been called yet after the Top 3….then 2…then 1!!! It was a very special moment for both of us and I’m sure our expressions were priceless.
What followed was a whirlwind of photos and congratulations from everyone involved, the press and sponsors. We were both giddy with excitement, almost forgetting to let our families know the great news! We were so grateful for the kind words, feedback and encouragement from all of the judges who attended the ceremony as well.
Island Sitters would like to thank Automotive Art, Signia Insurance and Chefette for this amazing opportunity. We are now able to move ahead much faster than we would have ever thought because of this competition, and we will always be incredibly grateful for everything they’ve done for us. We’d also like to say a huge THANK YOU to our amazing support team; our family, friends and boyfriends for giving us the encouragement and support that we needed to build this business.
No man is an island and Island Sitters is here because of all of you. Thank you.
Now the real work begins…
November 22, 2013
I had every intention of blogging my little heart out about Global Entrepreneurship Week since Monday but then, our new business got in the way of things. Funny that. I also didn't realise that the finals of a competition I entered coincided with #GEW so I'll dedicate this post to the last few months of my life..
2 and a half months ago, my friend Sheena and I entered our Island Sitters agency in to the Automotive Art Entrepreneurship competition. We saw it as a great opportunity to push ourselves and the Island Sitters concept even further, working side by side with the competition deadlines...not realizing that this would require sacrificing our every single breathing moment to this competition and our business. We were pushed a lot further than we had anticipated and in hindsight, I'm so grateful for it. What started with a simple, straightforward 'side business' has now developed into a full-time start up thanks to the competition.
The competition was advertised in September, and the first phase required a 2 page concept paper. From there, our entry was narrowed down to the Top 10 from over 75 entries.
Phase 2 included a 15 page business plan, outlining things we didn't even know existed. Neither Sheena nor I had ever taken business course, far less started something ourselves. So we batted our eyelashes at our amazing boyfriends and family members, asking for help wherever possible. We couldn't have done any of this without our support team! We also attended the workshops which were organised by Automotive Art and the UWI Business School and they were so incredibly helpful. I also had a chance to meet some of the other contestants (sussing out the competition) and talk about their experiences so far.
When we heard that we made it to the Top 5 we nearly peed ourselves. Not only out of excitement, but genuine fear; the final round included a detailed financial forecast and a 20 minute business pitch - Dragon's Den style! Cue more hours and late nights and weekends sat around Sheena's dining table trying to figure out Excel, sipping way too much coffee and tea. This, coupled with the actual running of Island Sitters as well, put quite a bit on our plates.
It was on one of these late nights, after declining yet another social event, that Sheena and I turned to each other and said "Wait, We're entrepreneurs now." It wasn't a very grand moment, it was more of a harsh dose of reality: THIS is what they're talking about when people tell you it's not going to be easy. It's fucking hard work and sucks sometimes. But we kinda laughed about it and continued with our graphs and pitch deck.
We amped things up in the final week, tweaking our presentation and doing practice pitches on many occasions. THANK YOU again to everyone who endured these, you don't understand how much it meant to us. Our presentation was ripped apart and put back together piece-by-piece thanks our significant others. Those boys knew how to get the best out of us and we love them for it.
Pitch day came and went, but not without a fair share of of stress and anxiety. We finally did our thing in front of 5, ahem, male business execs. I was shocked to see that a competition of this magnitude wouldn't even have ONE female judge. Hopefully they will next year...
Needless to say, it was the fastest 20 minutes of my life. Sheena and I rocked it as a team because we had practised SO much and we know our business inside out. We may have cracked a few awkward jokes here and there, AND I forgot a few chunks of my pitch but nobody noticed...We've been eating, breathing and sleeping Island Sitters for the last few months and we covered all of our bases. We received great feedback from the judges, who are all successful businessmen. I was really proud of both of us after walking out of that conference room! We were giddy with happiness and relief and treated ourselves to an afternoon swim and a yummy dinner with some of our favourite people that night.
Tonight we'll be attending the prize giving ceremony and networking with all those involved in the competition. We don't know where Island Sitters placed out of the Top 5 finalists and it's freaking me out, not going to lie. We're both pretty competitive and gave this competition our all, not to mention feeling like we've just completed our second Master's degree.
Fingers crossed peeps, it's going to be an epic night.
November 15, 2013
Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off on Monday! It's the world's largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch start-ups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. It's really exciting to see that young entrepreneurs and start ups are being taken a little more seriously here in Barbados, with more opportunities and funding available recently. Starting your own company is a huge feat (Correction - an ENORMOUS feat) and entrepreneurs can use all of the help they can get, especially during uncertain times like these. GEW Barbados still has a long way to go with their media outreach, especially if they're trying to get engage young people in these things. I had to search high and low for the following information, which is a pity because I know a lot of people would have loved to have been more involved in the process. I have high hopes for these organisers next year though :) Here's a list of some of the events that are taking place in Barbados next week, from workshops to networking and everything in between, thanks to the Barbados Youth Business Trust, TrepFest and the Barbados Small Business Association. If you know of any other events going on, please feel free to comment below! (Click on the links for more info):
Young entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of the Stock Exchange to the growth of their business.
Nov 18th - Weathering the storm - Adopt, adapt, adept
Forum for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who would learn how to ride out the recession with practical tips to remain in the game.
Nov 19th - Women's Entrepreneural Forum
An event geared to provide advise and support to female entrepreneurs - WOOP WOOP!
Nov 20th - Maximizing Networking for Business Success
Paul Altman, one of the most successful business men in Barbados, will speak to entrepreneurs business mentors and the partners about increasing business success through networking.
Nov 21st - Young Entrepreneurs Training
Experienced lecturer Tara Wilkinson-McClean will provide young entrepreneurs with information on how to improve their marketing through the use of social media.
Nov 21st - Lean Analytics Workshop with Alistair Croll
This workshop is based on the book 'Lean Analytics' written by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz and is one in the series of books on the Lean Startup approach to business.
TrepFest is a 3-day series featuring three events: a Lean Analytics Workshop, a networking mixer and treppinOut:Unconference. The festival is launched by a series of Lean Startup Meetups hosted in association with Foo Café Barbados. Check them out on Facebook for more info!
I'll be Tweeting from all of the events I attend, so join in on the conversation @Skiptomalouuu using the #GEWBim2013
September 30, 2013
For those of you who have been following this blog for some time, you'll remember how excited I was about One Young World last year. I blogged about it here, here, here and here. Oh, and here.
I was pretty damn excited.
One Young World changed my life. That place was like Disney World for me.
Sadly, I won't be attending it this year due to a number of reasons; mainly because of a lack of funding but also because I'm on the job hunt and couldn't commit to attending this year.
Luckily, a really great guy by the name of Alan Warner is representing Barbados this year after winning the full scholarship that I won last year. He's been asking me a few questions about attending One Young World for the first time and these questions raised quite a few emotions and memories for me. It was really difficult for me to narrow things done in one paragraph. Since then, a few more friends have asked me about my experience and whether I had any 'OYW tips' or tricks to share with them.
I started scribbling a few notes down and decided to put together this list of tips I have for anyone who's attending One Young World. Whether it's your first time or your fourth; I hope these tips prove useful:
1. Don't sleep
Sleep when you're dead. Seriously though, don't let the jet lag or lack of shut eye catch up with you, you can sleep when you get home. Go to bed as late as possible after having dinner and beers with different groups of people. Wake up early every day and have breakfast with different groups of people.
Coffee is your new best friend.
Use every single hour at One Young World because before you know it, it will be over and you'll be wishing your sleep deprived butt could be back in that conference room soaking up the energy that you took for granted.
2. Don't compare yourself to others
One Young World was the first youth leadership conference I had ever been to. It was the first time I was surrounded by 17 year olds who made me feel like shit. I was shocked at how much people had done with their young lives! It was intimidating and overwhelming at first but I soon got over it. I was there for a reason and I knew that I had to focus on what I could learn from these amazing people rather than compare myself to them. I also quickly realized that some people were playing up their achievements because they themselves felt insecure and overwhelmed and they had just as much to learn from me as I did from them. Every single one of those delegates and Ambassadors has something to bring to the table, so don't waste your precious time comparing yourself to others.
3. Connect with people on LinkedIn and Twitter
OYW is a networking beehive, so try to connect with people by getting their full name, a business card and their Twitter handle. Most people will be on Twitter by now so make sure you add them straight away, or you'll forget. You will meet about 500 new people every day (or it will feel that way at least!) but don't let a fleeting moment go to waste. Be it in the elevator, whilst grabbing a much needed cup of coffee or a bus ride, make sure you can follow up with that person after you've met.
4. Take a million photos
Having lots of snaps is a great way to remember people's names and faces after you've met because they'll likely get tagged by someone on Facebook through the OYW network. You'll wish you took a gazillion more photos than you actually did.
5. Say 'YES' to everything.
Want to go for a beer with a group of us? Yes.
Up for joining this random break out session? Yes.
Care to join us at this table for lunch? Yes.
Ready to step outside of your comfort zone with people you wouldn't normally hang out with? YES!
Use every single opportunity to meet more people and have fun. Don't think that you'll have time for it later, you won't. It will all be over before you know it, I can't stress this enough.
6. Sit with new people at every meal.
Similar to No.5 but kind of different. I love meeting new people, but being faced with 1,800 new interesting people can be a bit daunting to say the least. I found sharing a meal to be an easy way to have a chat. I had my 'conference buddies' from Day 1 but we managed to find new people to sit with at every meal. My most memorable one was breakfast on my last day, just before departing Pittsburgh, with a group of Brazilians who were having a heated debate about their local government policies. It quickly got heated but we were all hugging and exchanging contact details by the end of it. Awesome way to start the day.
7. Ask lots of questions (but don't hog the mic)
One Young World is all about creating dialogue between different cultures and there's nothing more refreshing than being asked a good question. People are asking questions everywhere; in person and online, so be sure to keep abreast of the conversations happening on Twitter too. On a personal level, people asked me a million and one questions about Barbados, our social structure, schooling system, etc. There were the occasional few who asked really dumb questions, such as these ones about being a white kid from Barbados, but it was generally pretty cool. On the other hand, the conference also offers the opportunity to pose questions during their plenary sessions and people tend to go to town on these. Try not to claim your 15 seconds of fame in front of someone like Jamie Oliver. My friend Shaaz wrote this great article on 'How to ask questions at One Young World.' It made me laugh and I'm sure you'll be able to appreciate it after you've seen it for yourself.
8. Write about your experience to your local paper.
This may seem obvious to some of you but not many people know about One Young World. Once you've entered 'the world' of One Young World, you can't really remember what life was like without these amazing people in it. Wouldn't you like others to have a similar experience? I heard about One Young World through a friend of mine in London and I was one of a handful of West Indians who attended. This wasn't for lack of interest or funding opportunities but purely because this conference is unheard of in the Caribbean. Once I came back, I made sure to contact a friend of mine at the local paper and asked him to do a feature. He went a bit overboard and did a two page spread, but it did the trick and got people interested. There were far more Barbadian applicants this year and I'm still holding on to the dream of sending an entire team of Barbadians to this conference in the future. Fingers crossed!
9. Connect People
My networking skills were put to the ultimate test and I had a really cool buddy to learn from throughout the event. He has a natural talent for connecting people in a very unique way by remembering small details about them and linking those details to others, allowing them to immediately bond over something they have in common. For example: He knew that the guy next to him was a web developer and that the guy across the table was looking for start up funding. He linked the two by suggesting that they work on a fundraising app. Seems random, but it worked. He also remembered people's names and nationalities, which was a big deal. People loved that.
This year, I've been trying to connect friends of mine who will be meeting in Johannesburg for the first time. Friends from London, friends from Barbados and ones I made at One Young World will all be in the same place and meeting up. It makes me sad and really excited to know that those connections are happening organically, because all of these people have a common interest.
Remember that this event isn't just about you and what you can gain from it. If you think two people could benefit from meeting each other, connect them. Don't be shy about it. You can harness the ability to affect change in more ways than one.
10. Tweet, Tweet, Tweet!
Until now, I've been trying to ignore the buzz on Facebook and Twitter, mainly because it makes me really sad to know that a whole bunch of my friends are going again and I have serious FOMO. But I'm going to stop feeling sorry for myself and embrace the beauty of the OYW network by following along as much as I can online. So please, TWEET as much as possible and let us live vicariously through you. Give me the best you've got at
You are SO lucky to be attending this event. Lap it all up!
I hope you benefit from it as much as I did.
September 23, 2013
Sunday started out bright and sunny, so we all had plans to hit the beach. As the grey clouds rolled in though, we figured it would be a better idea to pack a cooler and take an impromptu island tour. So four of us did just that. In fact, we spent most of the time in the center of the island, winding along roads that I had never driven in my life (shocking) and even got lost. The gloomy weather added a moody feel to most of the images we snapped at first and in typical tropical fashion, the sun was still out for most of the day despite the showers.
We drove through gullies and villages and pitched up on a vacant lot to watch the sunset, which we were certain was going to be spectacular thanks to the stormy weather. The clouds blocked said sunset and we were all a bit annoyed with our wasted effort. Aren't we spoilt?! We ended up having a sunset drink on a cliff, overlooking the West Coast and we were bummed out with the cloud coverage. Serious #paradiseproblems right there.
Nothing like taking a photographer's tour of Barbados to make you appreciate this little rock. And on a side note, there's nothing like rolling with a semi professional photographer to make your equipment feel like a toy.
Yes, we always do jumping shots. Yes, I know I need to up my game.
September 20, 2013
Since my blog is a bit messy at the moment, I decided to make use of the empty space to highlight some of my favourite lady bloggers. I'm probably bias because I know these girls in real life too but I'm all about sharing the love and the bloggy talent. These girls are pretty awesome and their personalities shine through online. Hop on over to their corners of the internet for something fun and interesting:
Sheena is one of my dear friends and a newbie blogger. She's been tinkering with the idea of starting a food blog and thankfully, she finally launched it this week! She's all about food and fun in the sun and I know her blog has some great things in store for us. Head on over and give her some love.
Mikaela @ Musings of a Tilapia:
Mikaela's posts are as enlightening and intellectual as they are engaging. Her great writing style makes for an easy read on topics near and dear to her heart; public health (sexual health in particular), travel and social issues. She's constantly coming up with cool things to talk about and I'm always excited to click on new posts that pop up on my news feed.
I lived with this quirky Trinidadian during our studies at Leeds University, and I really like that her 'Trini'ness is evident throughout her blog. Ceola explores everything from food, to culture, fashion and current events in Trinidad and Tobago. She makes me want to hop on a plane every time she mentions another 'pop up' creative event or cool designer who she's discovered.
I stumbled across Setarra's blog a couple of years ago and have kept up with her shenanigans ever since. She's sincere and frank about her feelings and experiences, with a great sense of humour. We met in person at the beginning of this year when she came to Barbados with her boyfriend Charles and it reinforced my gut feelings that this girl was for real and that we'll be 'real' friends too.
September 18, 2013
My friend Sheena and I came up with the idea of starting a babysitting agency here in Barbados over the summer. We have both worked for agencies overseas and saw the need for something similar in Barbados. With so many families visiting the island every year, plus the large number of young families we knew personally, it just seemed like an obvious solution to the common problem of trying to find a credible and reliable sitter, nanny or tutor in Barbados.
Fast forward two months and we're ALMOST ready to launch 'Island Sitters' - a sitter service agency offering babysitting, nannying, tutoring, pet sitting and house sitting. All of our sitters will be screened by us and given a profile on our website. We want to ensure that our sitters are reliable and of good character before we refer them to any of our clients :) Eventually, we want our website to include online booking and individual scheduling but we're taking it one step at a time. When that happens we hope to update our 'look' from 'Picmonkey' to 'Professional' (Any designers out there willing to help us out??)
The response from families has been great so far! We've taken on a few jobs here and there, just to test the waters a bit and see how things work out with different clients. Girls of all ages are signing up to work with us as well and we're really excited to see where this goes!
You can help us spread the word about Island Sitters by liking our Page and sharing it with anyone who may be interested in working with us!
Stay tuned for more posts coming soon :)
September 17, 2013
Just received some great news from the wonderful people at iStrategy: they're offering me 4 free tickets to their conference in London on Sept 30th-Oct 1st! Eek! #geekythrills
iStrategy is a two-day digital and social media conference that I first heard about back in 2011, when my friend Kat and I won tickets to their conference in Amsterdam. You can read more about my 'Sweet Tweet' blog post here. Katerina and I were blown away by the event; we chatted with Randi Zuckerburg about being geeky girls and pretended to know what we were in for when mingling with Media Execs at the networking events. By the end of it we were overwhelmed, excited and inspired - which is exactly what we were aiming to get out of the iStrategy event.
Since then, I've kept in touch with the team via email and Twitter, looking out for any opportunity to attend another event. Miami and The Hague seemed like viable options at the time, but unfortunately I couldn't make either of them and had to give the tickets away to friends in those cities. Since I was planning on travelling to London on my way to Amsterdam next month, I figured it may be possible to push things forward to make room for this event on the 30th.
The iStrategy team put together a really great event; filled with inspirational speakers, the sharpest ideas and the most innovative technologies – all aimed at helping attendees make social, mobile and other digital technologies work for their business. Attendees benefit from listening to both globally acclaimed and local market speakers with expertise in every online channel in a series of interactive sessions and keynote speeches that offer practical learning. With plenty of networking opportunities, it is the perfect place to build a professional network, find business partners, generate new ideas and learn.
So, with that said, are any of my media peeps in London interested in joining me for this? I have 3 tickets up for grabs, so please share this post, comment or tweet at me if you're interested! First come, first serve in this case [I'm not picking any favourites] ;)
September 13, 2013
I've been thinking about personal branding a lot recently, for a number of reasons. (Bare with me, this post is providing insight in to my sporadic thought process)
First and foremost, I've been on the job hunt and this has made me more aware of the fact that I haven't been blogging consistently in the last 6 months. I can blame my thesis or a quarter life crisis for this but it doesn't look very good when I claim to be a 'multimedia blogger' on my CV and yet it's not reflected on my site. I've been telling myself that I'm not 'inspired' at the moment because my blog is 'under construction' - and has been for the last 6 months! I've been so caught up in deciding whether to stay in Barbados or not, that I've neglected this blog and put it on the back burner because it wasn't deemed important enough. I just haven't been able to sit down and put my feelings in to words. Once I start thinking about the back log of posts, I get overwhelmed because I know I have to backtrack about 8 months worth of posts. (I've had a pretty awesome designer working on my blog recently though and Diana has been going at exactly the pace I need to get back in to blogging)
I think I've had a bit of a 'personal branding' crisis since moving home. I'm no longer feel like a travel bug because I'm not living in Amsterdam and hopping around every weekend. I haven't sat down to blog about that because I'm worried I'll lose myself in details and complicated explanations. In a nutshell: I moved home to do my thesis in December, fell in love with an amazing guy and decided to stay. I haven't stepped on a plane since. There, I said it. I'm going to be living in Barbados for the foreseeable future and it freaks me out to know that I won't be travelling as much anymore and as a result, I won't have that much to blog about. If I'm not a travel bug, blogging about that kind of stuff, then what the hell is Skip to Malou* about?
...Then I catch myself saying those things out loud and realize that I'm being silly, because this blog is just as much a lifestyle blog as it is a travel blog. And the lifestyle in Barbados is pretty damn sweet. I live in paradise with an amazing group of friends who like to explore, cook, party and try anything once. I'm constantly meeting new people who inspire me and give me a fresh perspective on things. Barbados is small, but bursting with culture and ingenuity; the network of people I've come in to contact with other the last few months are testament to that. And it's not to say that I won't be travelling at all, just not as often (I'll actually be in Europe next month for my graduation - woop!)
Now that I think about it, I have a tonne of things I'd like to share with anyone who's up for reading it. I'll be back-logging tonnes of photos and stories about the endless summer in Barbados and the things I've been up to. I'm on the job hunt and not ashamed to show my blog because it will eventually be exactly where I want it to be.
I just need to stop freaking out and get on with it.
Here's to blogging about life in Barbados and beyond.
August 30, 2013
The downside to being a student is living on a budget. Cheap meals and deals are the norm and my love of gadgets had to take a backseat until I got a proper job. I hadn't planned on buying a new phone for awhile but things took a turn for the worst when my ancient Blackberry decided to kick the bucket. I must admit, the thought of reverting to an old Nokia lying around did appeal to me because of 'Snake' but I knew I'd feel lost without Whatsapp and Twitter. I needed a functional smart phone (This is so #YGen of me)
In stepped a great gal who lent me her old iPhone 3 to use until I could get the money together for a new one. She didn't quite realize how much this meant to me but I was so excited for the upgrade.
I felt like a kid at Christmas; very few can understand the joy of finally discovering what a real smart phone is supposed to do. Granted, I'm not the biggest fan of Apple products but it was a welcome change from my old Blackberry; it didn't freeze, it didn't die and it took semi-identifiable photos! (I say semi, because I did send a few foodie shots to friends, which were met with a 'what the hell is that blurry blob?!')
THEN, things just kept getting better. My friend needed her phone back and in stepped another awesome friend, who replaced it with her iPhone 4! Some of you may be sitting there laughing as you smugly stroke you iPhone 5 (or 5s) but I am over the moon with this phone. It takes amazing photos, works well and I can indulge in almost every App imaginable. Gone are the days of scrambling for my camera to record a memorable moment. I can now whip out my phone and take the shot (Once they stand still) I can also join in on the Snapchat selfie fun and SKYPE on the 3G network. Ah-mazing.
Have I totally converted to Apple products? Not really. Given the choice and the budget, I would pick the new waterproof Samsung over an iPhone (that deserves it's own post) but I have never been so fond of my phone - I love it for its functionality and sentimental value.
© Skip to Malou | All rights reserved.