St. James teen, who now has seven subjects, used her small business to fund data plans for classes

Trishana Martin, 18, has used her skills in sewing to start a pillow and cushion-making business.

With funds from the business, she was able to purchase data plans to do online classes and to undertake the necessary research to complete her School-Based Assessment (SBA).

The purchase of data to access internet service was paramount for Trishana because her school, like others on the island, were closed to help minimize the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Furthermore, the young resident of Spring Mount, St. James, was preparing to sit seven Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

She explained that preparation for CSEC was challenging as, without a computer at home, she had to travel to her friend’s house in John’s Hall to submit her SBAs.

“To save on time, I would type up as much as I could on my phone from my house and, when I got to John’s Hall, I would complete each project and submit them on time. I received high scores for them too,” Trishana boasted.

She was successful in seven CSEC subjects – including four with the highest grade available (Grade One).

Trishana credits her success to unwavering support from her teachers, friends and community members, as well as help received through the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

Explaining the genesis of her business, the graduate of Mount Alvernia High School in St. James said she was introduced to sewing in grade seven and, from there, her love for the craft grew.

She added: “I started Home Economics where I did Clothing and Textiles and Food and Nutrition classes. For Clothing, I initially learned how to sew a pantry towel and bag. Then, in grade eight, I learnt how to make an apron. In grade nine, I sewed a dress by hand. That was the moment when I realised how much I loved to sew.”

Trishana longed for a sewing machine to hone her skills, but knew that there was not enough money available within the household to make the purchase.

However, in grade nine, after appealing to her mother, the duo ‘saved little by little’ until they could buy the machine.

Shortly thereafter, Trishana got her first client, when her uncle’s girlfriend asked her to make some cushion covers.

“I went on the internet and watched videos of other people making cushion covers with their sewing machines. I tried to make them, but they didn’t come out all that great. So, I tried again and they turned out better. My uncle’s girlfriend loved them,” she said.

With her first official customer in the bag, Trishana realised that sewing could be a source of income to help with the household bills and also the purchase of school supplies.

She taught herself how to properly use the sewing machine, and sought help from her Clothing and Textiles teacher to properly place zippers and create patterns.

From there, her business, Royal Crush Designs, was born. Her client base is made up of her neighbours in Spring Mount and a few of her teachers.

Trishana said her products are of the best quality and fit for royalty, hence the business name.

“I love to make pillows and pillow covers and, when I look at where I’m coming from and I see that I can help my mommy with certain thing, trust me, it’s a joy and I want to continue to make them,” she added.

The multi-talented teen, who is planning to expand her pillow and cushion-making business, also intends to live her passion for cooking.

She wants to become a chef.

She also intends to enroll at the Western Hospitality Institute in Commercial Food Preparation, under the Sixth Form Pathway II (Technical) programme. The course is a certified National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) programme.

Trishana, in the meantime, encouraged students to aim for the highest despite their circumstances.

“You must make yourself and the people around you proud. With or without support, always remember that, if you don’t do the work, you won’t be successful,” she further reasoned.

Editorial Note: The information used to produce this story was provided by the state-owned Jamaica Information Service


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