Advice from Jamaican Entrepreneurs: Latoya West-Blackwood

Name: Latoya West-Blackwood 

Age: 33

Name of business: iPublish Consultancy and iMagiNation Books 

Your job title: Founder and Chief Executive Officer 

Age at which you started your business: 30

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

Tenacity, resilience and passion

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

I lost my mother to a rare and aggressive type of breast cancer one year after starting my business. She was diagnosed four months after I registered the business. She was very supportive on my journey to becoming an entrepreneur; it was extremely difficult to balance pursuing my professional goals while coping with the reality that the person who gave me and my dreams life was dying. That experience taught me a lot of things but primarily about the value and fragility of life in general and how to boldly face challenges. 

Describe one moment in which you felt immense pride in your accomplishment as entrepreneur. 

I would actually say my selection for the YLAI Fellowship is the highlight so far. The application process was very detailed and as I would learn later, very competitive. To be selected as one of the 250 finalists from an original pool of 4,000 across 36 countries spanning Latin America and the Caribbean, is phenomenal. It still felt surreal until we actually got to the opening summit in Dallas, Texas. Becoming an official Branson Centre Caribbean Entrepreneur was also an exceptional moment that resulted in real growth for me and my business.

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

As a mother and wife – major responsibilities – family support is very important. My mother played a huge supporting role for me up to the time of her death. My in-laws and immediate family – husband, kids etc – keep me going with their love and encouragement. Entrepreneurship comes with many trials, failures and faith-testing challenges that can easily break your spirit and drive. Maintaining that balance is very important. You also get an ego check often just in case it’s ever needed. 🙂

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

Start, that’s the first step. Don’t procrastinate, act on your dreams and develop your abilities. See business as a way of shaping the society and future you desire for yourself and your country, a force for good. Imagine, innovate and live inspired. 

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

I think it captures me in my ‘natural state’, lol! I love music, travel and celebrate my African heritage. I think this photo captures it all.

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