I read with interest the desire of the Ministry of Tourism to commit to establishing a credible crafts industry.
In my opinion the best crafts are those that are useful, have a story to tell, are made from local material by local people and most importantly add beauty to daily life.
With these criteria in mind the following musings could be the outline of a small business opportunity.
Rope making/ basket weaving is as we know the most traditional of Cayman crafts born out of a basic need to haul goods. Consider a modern slant to this core craft – for instance the local production of strong reusable well-designed eco-friendly shopping bags made by say an attractively titled company eg. ‘The Cayman Island Bag Company’.
These could be sold not only to visiting tourists for souvenirs but also to all the supermarkets for use locally.
Allow the supermarkets to advertise on one side of the bag in a tasteful way and suggest a nominal giveaway price of $1 each to customers in return for the free advertising.
No doubt the business community at large will eventually appreciate the value of free advertising being toted around town and jump aboard.
Further to this the Government and its appropriate departments/ministries could throw their weight behind a campaign to take plastic bags out of the shopping chain in a show of real commitment to creating a cleaner environment and at the same time nurturing a local craft industry.
A well designed co-op/production centre would ideally be located out of town to capture the rural feel of the core craft and also provide local employment opportunities. I also am imagineering an adjacent visitor’s centre (preferably with a view of the sea) complete with a live working museum and shop to sell an extended line of their wares.
I suggest that using East End Library for the front of house elements of this project could be an exciting option worth exploring given its beautiful location and historic value and most importantly because it is under consideration for reuse/redevelopment.
The centre in this location would be a valued pitstop en route to Rum Point or The Botanical Gardens for both tourist and locals.
(I can just about taste ice cold freshly made mango smoothies!)
Further to this the schools will also have one more place to add to their limited list of places to visit for field trips.
Without a doubt observation and experience tells us that if developed and marketed in the right way people will buy and use these bags in the same way as they fly car flags or display patriotic bumper stickers or use Kirkfreeport tote bags etc.
Most importantly they have the potential to become a symbol of eco-awareness and who in their right mind wants to be caught sticking their head in the sand about that these days.
As the song says Come aboard, Ship ahoy!! – for a better Cayman !