Advice from Jamaican Entrepreneurs: Joan Webley




Name: Joan Elizabeth Webley aka Nanook

Age (optional): 33

Name of business: Nanook Enterprises Ltd. 

Your job title: Attorney/Managing Director

Age at which you started your business: 25

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful entrepreneur?

Vision and perseverence tie equally for me. The former helps you determine what to do and the latter enables you to actually get it done.

Identify one hardship that you experienced while building your business and how you overcame that.

I was repeatedly told to change the name of my business, that it was too hard to pronounce and non-descript. I was convinced, and still am, that the fact it was an unusual name meant I would have room to test different solutions/approaches, thereby giving the catchy name meaning. I knew it would be challenging, but I wouldn’t be boxed in. Reading ‘The Art of Engagement’ by Guy Kawasaki gave me the confidence and some workable tools to pursue that path.

nanook-w-communityDescribe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur.

I think it was in a supermarket one day, the first time I overheard someone (who wasn’t a friend or family member) speak about how much they loved going to Nanook. They were telling a friend about the creative hub/lounge aspect of what I do, and I was … humbled.

How important were family/connections/relationships to your work’s success?

Family, connections and relationships are everything in life – when I was younger I tried to prove that I could do it all myself as it concerned me to never be accused of nepotism. At the Branson Centre, they called it ‘bootstrapping’, and while I feel like I have only just laid the foundation for what Nanook will achieve, I wouldn’t have been anywhere near to this close without the support of my mother, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and the numerous friends and strangers that have volunteered time in the creation of the creative hub/lounge. I’m still not the greatest at asking for and accepting help but it’s a necessary skill!

What advice would you give to youth considering starting entrepreneurial ventures in Jamaica?

Do not be disheartened – wheel and come again!! 🙂 Things are invariably going to take longer, cost more or just in general be “harder” than you anticipated. Try not to take yourself or the issue too seriously. Instead, see setbacks as lessons you can use to do better next time!

For the picture: Why did you choose this pic and what does it say about you?

  1. A graphic piece created by Michael Thompson of Freestyle Arts and the International Reggae Poster competition. He created this based off of a photo of me- I chose it because I think it represents me as someone committed to preserving and promoting indigenous and international culture. He also passed away suddenly this year and I use the photo as a tribute and in respect to him.
  2. This photo represents me and my business to a T. I am in Nanook creative lounge, surrounded by amazing art, next to Dre Island (upcoming Jamaican-Canadian musical phenom), with Ptah (Asst. Managing Director of Nanook/web designer/yogi), Ceci and Reni (volunteer Masters’ graduates from Italy and Bulgaria). Nanook is about connecting and developing worlds through culture!

Be sure to leave your comments below. See responses from other Jamaican entrepreneurs here .