Supported by friends and family CAPE student builds business brand
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18-year-old Quiana Chester
18-year-old Quiana Chester

WITH a pocket full of savings and a determined spirit, Quiana Chester, a Grade 11 student of St. Stanislaus College, took a leap of faith last year and launched her very own small business to support her studies.
The 18-year-old had officially opened her accessories store, Lewks GY, just days before writing the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) in August 2021.

During a recent interview, the young adult told the Guyana Chronicle that she had thought of opening a small business for quite some time to help in paying her fees for extra classes; however, she found herself questioning whether she should juggle academics and a business.

“So, when I started talking about launching a business, I had spoken to two friends about it. One was very excited about it and was like, ‘yea you should go ahead’ and the other, who was writing CAPE with me, was like, ‘are you sure?’”

Chester recounted that she tried to ease herself out of the idea, but it still lingered. With very little cash in her savings at the time, she finally decided it was time to take on the challenge and open her business.
She officially opened Lewks GY the day before she had her first CAPE examination. Chester said she started her business with just $8,000 and an additional $10,000 from a friend, from whom she felt ashamed to take money.

Chester at a pop-up shop

While she did not have knowledge about the business world and self-marketing, she still felt confident, as both her parents were entrepreneurs.
“I always had an eye for business,” she explained, “both of my parents are entrepreneurs. My mom is a juice vendor and my dad is a food vendor. I feel like entrepreneurship is something that I always saw. So, the selling aspect of it wasn’t anything new.”

Along the way, Chester learnt how to promote and market herself on social media and, eventually, was able to open a storefront at a collaborative space in Georgetown. She later expanded her business to offer delivery services which went beyond the boundaries of the capital city.

Chester later found herself investing more time in her business than studies.
“I’m not going to say it was completely easy managing CAPE and a business… it was really difficult sometimes because I found myself gravitating more to the business. But then coming on to exam time, I had to remind myself I’m doing business for CAPE and not CAPE for the business,” she said.

Chester, last month, finished her final units of CAPE. To prepare for this, she said her business had to be placed on the back burner. Instead, a friend took over the operation for three months.
The teen noted that the support she has had from both her close friends and family, as well as patrons, has been overwhelming.

“I am overwhelmed; I’m truly grateful. Every moment that I get to tell everybody ‘thanks,’ I just express it because I saw so many [situations] with people and their families not wanting to support them,” she reflected.
As Chester is now awaiting the results of her examinations, she is wasting no time in planning her future.

As it relates to her business, she intends to expand her services to Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice). As for her future, Chester intends to read for a degree in the natural sciences or psychology.

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