Video: Winner of Young Innovators Challenge anticipates further expansion in 2019

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • High fashion wooden bowties made from scrap lumber and cloth 
  • Cronneit’s Forest Bows won 2017-2018 Young Innovators Challenge

What started off as a personal taste in men’s fashion quickly evolved into a full-fledged business opportunity for young entrepreneur Denny Cronneit of Black Bay, St John.

Cronneit is the sole proprietor of Cronneit’s Forest Bows, an environmentally friendly light manufacturing company that produces and sells handmade, stylish, unique high fashion wooden bowties, using scrap lumber and cloth materials. Cronneit and his wife Rekiesha operate from their home.

The company started in November 2017 and placed first in the Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC) 2017-2018 Young Innovators Challenge. However, operating a business was never the intention of Cronneit when he first started producing wooden bowties, but after having attended a formal event with one of his creations, Cronneit quickly realised that his personal sense of fashion caught the attention from the public. This experience inspired him to take his sense of fashion more seriously by branding and selling his creation. “Somebody brought it to my attention that people were looking at my bowties and I said you know what I am going to brand that bowtie and I was encouraged by my wife to start selling.”

Shortly after, Cronneit was encouraged by a friend to enter the Young Innovators Challenge and emerged overall winner, and was awarded the Most Innovative, an award received by a participant that utilises a more engaging way to diversify a product or service or modifies an existing product.

Cronneit admits that although he has a basic understanding of business management, his prior experience of funding his own education through the selling of homemade snacks and produce from his garden, has taught him some important lessons about being an entrepreneur. “I knew how to make a profit in the sense that at a very young age. I actually had to work to send [myself] to school and part of that work involved selling Cracker Jacks, stews, golden apple chow. And I used to do a little farming and sell to the hospital to assist in getting the finance to go to college. So I knew how to make a profit, but when you talk about a broad knowledge of business, yes I did principles of business in school, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter I didn’t really [have] a big knowledge of business”.

Cronneit who is employed at the Ministry of Health as an Environmental Health Officer, said one of his greatest challenges of operating a business was record keeping, but after being educated on recordkeeping by the GIDC, he decided to start his own recordkeeping. As part of his Young Innovators Challenge award, Cronneit received a cheque for $6,000 to absorb the cost of equipment and other materials required for, in his case, the expansion of his operations. He said he is now better able to produce more wooden bowties since he was able to procure some equipment that will facilitate the work more efficiently. “Very soon I am looking to employ someone to assist in the business, and with that assistance, I will have a greater quantity out there. So that people can get in retail stores, I will want to partner with a boutique men’s store so as we are in the tourist season now, the tourist can get it in St George’s.”

Terri-Ann Charles of Spa, a beauty supplies company that manufactures hypoallergenic products from local natural ingredients placed second in the GIDC’s Challenge. Franc Roberts and Rehanna Warren from Craft de Spice, producers of personalised clothing for men, women, and children utilising recyclable materials, captured third place.

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