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'Spice' of an idea

Having travelled all over the world Debbie Chin reveled in the response it would bring when asked, 'Where are you from'? The word Jamaica would bring some people to tears, sometimes a telling smirk, other times 'Bob Marley country' it seemed no matter where she went people always knew Jamaica, the people, the products.

The allure of the Caribbean, in particular Jamaica is no longer just white sands and warm weather. Now we have numerous famous artistes and various world-class products such as Blue Mountain Coffee, Jerk Seasoning, Easter Bun, Ackee, and Cornmeal Porridge to name a few and they are all synonymous with Jamaica and in very high demand.

Large corporations such as Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Puma are using our colours of black, green and gold or the Rasta colors red, gold and green to promote their goods. The 'Brand Jamaica' is sizzling hot and we need to be proud that such a small country of 2. 6 million people can create such a buzz in the world.

In 2005 Debbie Chin with the assistance of her husband Stephen Chin opened, to help promote and share the 'Jamaican brand' its amazing style and fabulous products, with the rest of the world.

The company has been wholly financed by its holding company the SDC Group Inc. and since opening its virtual doors the response has been overwhelming, with customers ordering goods from as far away as Belgium and Japan.

In 2006 was accepted to become a part of the Caribbean's first business incubation centre, The Technology Innovation Center (TIC) at UTECH.

The TIC provides startup business with a platform and a support mechanism to take off the ground. Ivor Bennett, Marketing & Public Relations Officer of the TIC, detailing out the application process said, ' Each applicant must submit a formal application for tenancy available on the Technology Innovation Centre's website, accompanied by at least a preliminary business plan, and/or multi year financial projection based on realistic projections.'

An innovative business, which has a working prototype or a developed product and a demonstrated need or niche for the product or service; shows potential to grow and create jobs are some of the consideration that are looked into.

'Red Pepper Mall met all of these criteria very well and we accepted them into the programme,' said Bennett

Through the programme has grown and has now has offices in Atlanta, Georgia; they plan to include other Caribbean Products on the site.

During Red Pepper Mall's two years in operation a majority of the design work, marketing and analysis have been done in house.

Fortunately Debbie Chin has a background in web design and online marketing and ran a successful ecommerce store in America and Stephen Chin has a diverse technology background with experiences gained from working with Motorola, Lucent Technologies and AT&T.

As all start ups, they have had their fair share of challenges, mainly logistics, but with the help of the Post Master General, Paul Gentles and his staff, they are working through these problems.

The long-term vision of the founders is to create a truly global e-commerce presence on the Internet, a place where Internet travelers can come and reconnect with the special spirit of the Caribbean.

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