In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing the spotlight on some of the women working behind the scenes to better the travel industry in Barbados and Belize.
Julia-Ann Holder, Owner of Hummingbird Soap Studio:
Holder took a passion and favourite pastime and turned it into a local favourite business. The Hummingbird Soap Studio was born in 2012, officially entering the local market in 2017. Holder started exploring soap making with her daughter, as an after school activity, learning new methods and recipes. Having now built the hobby into a thriving business, Holder participates in local events, like the Holetown Festival, to share her passion with her community. She aspires to break out into the international market to extend her passion globally.
Nadja Soodeen, Owner of Banz Barbados:
The Caribbean-devoted jewellery line was inspired by Soodeen’s desire for a Barbadian momento. Nadja wanted to create a piece of Barbados that she could hold onto and offer visitors and locals alike to cherish the tropical paradise. Nearly three years ago, Soodeen created Banz, which includes necklaces and bracelets with the signature Bim maps, motifs and Barbados coordinates. Soodeen acknowledges the challenges of being a small business owner in Barbados, like limits to resources, but loves what she has built and every lesson that she takes as an opportunity to grow and establish her business further.
During her years in the accounting industry,
Montreal-native Wendy Abed felt a void that could only be filled with artistic expression… and chocolate.
Abed saw an opportunity to fuse her French cuisine background with Caribbean flair, and started her shop, The Green Monkey Chocolatier.
Abed intends to maintain the company’s handmade, high-quality by taking baby steps towards expansion.
Owned and operated by a mother-daughter duo, Michelle and Martha Williams have grown Harbour View Cottages slowly overtime to be not only a place for guests to rests their heads, but now a place for spiritual, mental and physical transformation through the Om Shanti Belize onsite yoga studio and most recently through Martha’s Café.
During the hotel’s downtime in 2020, Michelle was furthering her yoga expertise in India to bring back to Om Shanti Belize yoga studio, and Martha started an on-site garden given her passion for the plant-based lifestyle.
Martha’s garden became so abundant that it now supplies her namesake restaurant, offering a farm-to-table experience.
The onsite yoga studio is situated within Belize’s green oasis and boasts views of both the Belize Harbour and Caribbean Sea, and until Canadians can experience this retreat in-person, they offer daily online yoga, meditation and Kriya classes to bring Belizean tranquility into the homes of Canadians. The online class schedule, rates and registration can be found here.
Heather McIntosh, Owner and Operator of Caribbean Shrimp Company Ltd:
The Caribbean Shrimp Company Ltd has been family owned and operated since 1986 and is the oldest continuously operating shrimp farm in Belize. McIntosh, a Belizean-Canadian, turned her father’s shrimp farm and into an eco-agri-tourism attraction mecca.
The company now offers organic shrimp farm tours and tastings, mangrove maiden boat tour (the only solar powered boat in Belize), crocodile sanctuary tour, Captain Hook’s Shrimp restaurant and bar, Lighthouse Bay Saltwater pool, nature trails, Mayan artifact walks, and adventure zone paintball. Visitors can also climb Hook’s Tower for a five-story view of the 260-acre farm, and the farm is considered on the top-ranking bird watching sites for unique shore birds. McIntosh has also led her company to earn the Belize Tourism Gold Standard Certification and boasts accolades including The Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Award 2020, Trip Advisor Award of Excellence in 2019 and placement in the top 10% of restaurants worldwide.