#Kingston, September 23, 2019 – Jamaica – For persons looking for unique, handcrafted jewellery and accessories ‘Koda Handmade’ is the perfect choice. The business, operated by Valentine McLean, offers one-of-a kind pieces such as necklaces, rings, bracelets, handbags and other items, each beautifully crafted from natural materials such as wood, shells, animal bones, calabash, coconut, bullhorn, suede and leather.
Mr. McLean tells JIS News that he plans to use other materials, such as straw, to make bags.
“I am going into straw now. I am… collecting the material and then I will get somebody to weave the bag for me and I would line inside with fabric and then mix it with leather,” he says.
Detailing his creative journey, Mr. McLean says that he always had a passion for “doing things with my hands” and would often experiment with various designs. I would go out and see things and say ‘I know I can do this and even do it better’, so I did a lot of experimenting,” he notes.
His says his grandmother and mother, who “used to knit and crochet,” inspired him to go into the business, and he decided to attend the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, where he perfected his skills in jewellery-making.
Mr. McLean says that over the years, he has received a lot of support from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). He tells JIS News that he obtained a grant from the agency a few years ago, which was used to purchase a set of jewellery pliers and a drill press.
Mr. McLean says that the drill press, used to cut holes into or through metal, wood, or other materials “made my work easier”.
“For me, the JBDC is playing a great role. They have helped me a lot. They are doing a great job,” he says.
Mr. McLean tells JIS News that one of his greatest passions is to pass on his knowledge and skills to others through training.
“If (JBDC) has a workshop going on, they will call me and I also assist in training persons in leather craft and jewellery making,” he notes.
He has also been invited by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to conduct workshops.
“I do a few training sessions too out of town. Wherever they send me, I just pack my stuff and go and train people how to work with, especially, calabash and coconut shell to make bags and jewellery. I love that part of it,” he adds.
Mr. McLean says he has seen a lot of interest in art and craft and would like to set up a facility where persons can access training and employment.
“My setback is when you finish training persons, that’s it. There is no follow-up to assist them, and that is why I want to do my own thing. I can train those people and after training them, if I get an order for some bags or some pieces of jewellery, I could use those people… and after a while if they want to branch off on their own, that’s fine” he notes.
“You will have more skilled people in the country than people who just learn something today and then that’s it,” he points out.
Persons interested in purchasing jewellery and accessories from Koda Handmade may contact Mr. McLean at (876)779-8874 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also showcases his designs at Kingston Night Market, a weekly artisan popup market held on Tuesdays at 8 Hillcrest Avenue, St. Andrew.
By: Latonya Linton
Header: Owner of Koda Handmade, Valentine McLean (right), along with his spouse and business partner, Deon Sinclair, display an array of accessories at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Expo 2019, held earlier this year at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. (Adrian Walker Photo)
1st insert: Handcrafted earrings by Valentine McLean of Koda Handmade.
2nd insert: Beautifully designed calabash bags made by Valentine McLean, Owner of Koda Handmade.