Pannist, choir member, model, actress and woman entrepreneur. Not everyone can boast nor manage such a broad portfolio but one person has certainly done so successfully. Regina King is the founder and mastermind behind one of Trinidad and Tobago’s emerging beverage companies ‘King’s Specialty Drinks’. The company offers a unique array of liquors and ponche de crème which can be used for any occasion.
King hails from the district of Point Fortin, Trinidad and is employed at an energy company in the south of the island. She focuses on her employer’s work during the day and concentrates on her business on evenings and weekends.
My interest was immediately piqued when I sampled some of her product offerings at a recent pop-up market. I knew I wanted to find out a little more about her business so we scheduled an interview.
King’s Specialty Drinks started six years ago as a spinoff from a family tradition creating ponche de crème, cakes and other Christmas delicacies synonymous with Trinidadian Christmas cuisine.
Regina recalls always taking a keen interest in helping around the kitchen while her mom and grand mom would prepare for family gatherings.
“I remember always trying to encourage my mom and grand mom to sell their products because the family recipes would often be a hit among the rest of the family, friends and colleagues. However they would usually laugh off the idea (of a busines) and I don’t think they had the right acumen at the time to understand the foresight I had.”
Creating a niche market
One Christmas Regina decided to take the plunge that her grandmother and mother were hesitant about and began creating ponche de crème for sale. Soon enough she began experimenting with other flavours besides the original crème.
To date, she has three variations of the original rum cream – Choc de crème, Ponche de crème Cherry and Cinna-crème.
“For the last two to three years we’ve been experimenting, developing and building the brand. We’ve even added on a line of liqueurs – Sorrel, mango, banana, guava, Caribbean mint and five fingers. What I like about the liquors is the many ways it can be used for those not so fond of the milky drink. So it can be chilled, added to coffee or even added to your cooking like bar-b-que.”
Regina proudly boasts that the liquors are full of flavor and one can taste the full fruit flavor rather than just a hint.
She exlains: “We strive to use local fruits in a way that one may not have necessarily thought of before so while people associate fruits like five finger in chows, people are often surprised and excited to see the five finger being used in a different way.”
King’s Specialty Drinks comes in different sizes and affordable prices to meet every budget. There is also a convenient travel-size option already packaged with a ribbon for those travelers who want to carry along a taste of ‘Trini’ on their trips or as a gift.
Forward thinking business philosophy
“A good time is always in season,” is the slogan for King’s Specialty Drinks. Regina said she’s not in the business of merely creating a drink in a bottle but rather ‘an experience’. “I want King’s Specialty Drinks to be that drink shared at family gatherings where everyone is enjoying each other’s company.
So just as crab and dumplings are synonymous with Tobagonian cuisine, so too do I want people to associate King’s assortment of drinks with Trinidadian cuisine.” Regina emphasizes that people usually associate ponche de crème to be consumed only during the Christmas season and wants to break out of that mould.
“I think the logo of my company speaks a lot to this aspect. The logo uses a figure originally supposed to be me, with a head wrap. Head wraps can be used in multiple ways and that’s what I like to think of the King’s Specialty Brand. We’re offering an array of beverages that can be consumed responsibly at any time of the year.”
One of Regina’s personal goals is to create a legacy for her family. “I come from a family of strong, dedicated women. My grandmother has passed but I still want to make her and the rest of my family proud.”
Challenges and advice
King’s Specialty Drinks is currently a one-woman business. “Man-power is one of my biggest challenges. Presently I make the beverages, label them, package them and I also attend expos for more exposure. It’s a lot of work to manage everything apart from my full time job. I recently hired a Social Media Manager to manage the page and would be seeking like-minded people to add to my team very soon.”
With Regina managing her business and working full time, I had to inquire the one piece of advice she would give to budding entrepreneurs.
“Don’t be afraid to tell your story and to engage people. I could tell you that being in business has certainly brought out another side of me. It has forced me to become more outgoing and the feedback received keeps me motivated.”
Regina also credits the pop-up markets, a trend in the country of face to face markets in different locations, allow for intangible benefits where she is able to meet and greet new or potential customers face to face. “It’s a great feeling when people acknowledge your creations.”
King’s Specialty Drinks are sold at Uncorked on Tragarete Road, Port of Spain and the Trade Winds Hotel in San Fernando. You can also call (868) 685-9979 for orders to be delivered to your location. Don’t forget to follow King’s Specialty Drinks on Instagram and Facebook.
#drinkresponsibly #supportlocal #agripreneurs #agribusiness
Written by: Yinka Jagbir, Contributor, Tech4Agri