Our sister supplement, the Health & Beauty, is doing a giveaway starting in November.
How do you enter? Simply send in stories about your experience as a young parent and win FREE baby prizes from French stores like Super U, OKAIDI and PIOU.
What will you win? You get a feature for you and your baby in the Health & Beauty. You can also win baby care products from Super U, clothes from OKAIDI, or baby décor from PIOU.
When does it end? Winners will be announced on November 26 in the month’s final Health & Beauty issue.
Send your submissions to [email protected] for your chance to win!
Making Maki is the home of Maki B. It’s where all of life’s parts meet. Figuring out the work-life balance, managing finances, navigating relationships, finding the things that give us joy, appreciating life’s journey and caring for ourselves along the way. Making Maki isn’t about finding any particular thing; it’s about always searching for the best versions of ourselves and making the most of all of life’s lessons and opportunities.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to present at SHTA’s SMILE. It was my second time at SMILE and my first time presenting at the event. My presentation partner was pretty great so I had a grand old time. Our presentation was about building communities and partnerships via Corporate Social Responsibility. I’m super passionate about national development and public private partnerships, so despite being completely exhausted from a long week, I was on cloud nine.
Somewhere during our presentation, we were sharing tips about partnerships and the benefits of giving back. At some point during our giving back talk, I started seeing a teeny bit of uncertainty in the audience. As it was a mixed crowd of business persons, I figured the fear was about how much is enough when it comes to giving back. As I saw folk doing some quick mental math to find the right amount of dollars and cents, I figured it was a good time to mention that no company should give to the point of bankruptcy. There was some immediate relief so I followed up by explaining that communities need businesses and businesses need communities.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. While we all want our business community to give cash donations or offer services in kind, I think it’s irresponsible to give so much money that you can’t maintain your payroll. Not that giving is irresponsible, but if businesses have to let go of employees, the unemployment rate rises and the socioeconomic impact of that would likely make matters worse – it would be super counterproductive to sustainable national development.
When I got home that evening, I thought about the balance between giving what you can and giving too much. Businesses can run the numbers to calculate what they can give. They can measure their income against their expenditures. They can see profit margins and pinpoint almost down to the exact dollar that they can safely give without putting the company in jeopardy. As individuals, we can do a similar exercise with our personal finances. We can guesstimate if we should buy a barbecue ticket for a local fundraiser. We can quickly decide if we can afford to drop a few dollars in the donation jar at the checkout counter. If we really want to, we can take it to the spreadsheets and figure it all out. Where numbers are concerned, we can calculate it out.
Where the numbers don’t exist – human interaction specifically – is where the trouble starts. Despite humanity’s best efforts, human interaction can’t always be measured down to six decimal places. We can’t accurately measure how physically, mentally or emotionally taxing an experience will be. We don’t know how a conversation or meeting will be. We don’t know how we’ll come out on the other side afterward. Talking to a friend about this, we both concluded that it comes down to knowing yourself, taking care of yourself, and protecting yourself.
Give openly and freely, but don’t bankrupt yourself. Don’t give to the point that you are unable to function. We all want to give and give some more. We want to be there for family and friends. We want to be supportive and be a shoulder that others can lean on. We want to be reliable and the go-to person. We want to be the team player. But at some point, being something for someone else can become too much. While we may be physically able to be a great listener, can we take in anymore?
When we start feeling like it’s too much, we have to set some boundaries and start dropping some nos. I’m pretty proud of my ability to say no. I used to feel super guilty about it, but not so much anymore. I say no to unhealthy environments or commitments I can’t keep. I also check out pretty often. I can stay at home alone and take care of me without feeling bad about it. We should all check out every now and then. Give that time to yourself to do things for yourself – maybe it’s a beach day or some time fishing or crocheting.
As a wonderful mentor often reminds me, at some point, you won’t have time for you, and then what good will you be to the world?
Led by Executive Director Cassandra Richardson, Safe Haven Foundation teamed up with local artist Lucinda “LaRich” Audain to inspire St. Dominic High School students by having them paint positive messages on the bathroom stalls at the school over the midterm break.
Titia van der Mark has worked in several different fields in her lifetime, but nothing beats running her own business – Livvitt BV – where she gets to pool her life and work experiences together for one super package. She gives insight into her world in this week’s Hot Seat.
Tell me about yourself; who is Titia van der Mark?
I am an entrepreneur that is spontaneous and creative. I hate the norm and I’m always looking to do things out of the box. I want to help the community and make a difference for Sint Maarten, and I will do so without being in politics. I swear I am going to make it happen.
How did you come to become an entrepreneur?
Born entrepreneurs just know it. From young, I felt restless in school. I wanted to do more and felt I was wasting time. I tried to be a housewife and that too did not suit my persona. Working for a boss was okay, but also not great – I had authority issues because I saw things my way and wanted to execute it as I saw fit. This, of course, did not work. Owning my own business was always a given, but I had a late start as I had to go through those stages of life. It happened when I reached back on Sint Maarten five years ago and started to work for Prime (Distributors). That was where I found my passion and acquired my first very wise business mentor which has led me to where I am today.
What type of business is Livvitt BV?
Livvitt does luxury signage, marketing, advertising, graphics and events. Livvitt caters to large and small businesses alike. Our foundation is based on customer loyalty from both sides of the spectrum, so once we have committed to handling your request for service, we will deliver no matter what. From a stamp to a branded umbrella, receipt books to banners, poster and flyers to a building rendition, we do it all for them.
What type of jobs did you do before Livvitt?
I worked at American Airlines; here I learned that timing is crucial. Divi Little Bay; I learned the value in good customer service and had the freedom to implement my ideas. The Daily Herald; I learned about advertising, but also was the creator of “In the Hot Seat”. However, the original name was “Sint Maarten check me out”. In Holland, I worked for an events company and learned the ropes of organising, executing and marketing events. Most memorable job was with Europol – I worked for the Serious Crime Department; here I learned intercultural management and helped in organizing European Member States Meetings to combat organised crime. Prime is where I found myself. This is where my love for brand marketing really took off.
How did you come up with the idea for this business?
Connecting the dots backwards: Everything Livvitt does currently is a result of past job experiences. The signage part of the company was a take over from a former company called Sxm Signs.
What was your goal from the start; and is it being achieved?
I wanted to be the first company on the island that a business could go to, to handle all their requests and as a VIP. It took a while for me to get there, as signage took up most of my time. And now, yes, I have finally achieved my goal. It is sometimes still shaky here-and-there with minor mistakes as with any business; but by 2020, Livvitt will be operating at full capacity, within all our services.
Where can we find some of the signs that Livvitt has created?
Carrefour, Roxxy Beach, Lotus, Rhythm & Booze, in Maho at Royal Islander Beach Club and Le Terrace, Sherwin Williams, Market Garden, Commodore Suites, Hospital and the Airport just to name a few.
What is unique about Livvitt?
Because of our marketing background, we view your business needs from that aspect and therefore the advice given is relevant and quite different to others. As you can see, we are not just another sign company; not only do we offer a full range of other services to elevate your brand, we offer so much more than other companies can offer. We actually have no competitors on island.
To what do you attribute the success of Livvitt?
Livvitt is a local company run by locals. We have families working within the company which make our customers’ experience very personal. We go the extra mile for our clients.
What is a typical day like for you at Livvitt?
We have weeks of everything going great. We also have weeks of things going wrong. The clients have no clue. It is very hectic and problem solving is often required, which I certainly have mastered.
What is your secret for moving your client from “regular” to “loyal”?
It’s the family affair. They trust us and we trust them. If they are not happy with something, we speak about it like adults and we correct it. We don’t stop until it is right and they are satisfied. We brainstorm to higher heights together.
How has being the owner of Livvitt made you a better person?
It has not been easy. It has made me into a much stronger person. Better things are coming ahead in the future as Livvitt is planning to give back to the community. Doing this new project for the youth of Sint Maarten along with the sports facilities is going to give me a real sense of purpose, thus achieving all what I feel I was destined to do.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Making my clients happy; bringing the customers’ ideas to life. Putting the smiles on peoples’ faces is priceless.
Most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?
That was a three-day event on Kim Sha Beach. My two besties and I organised that event. It took two-and-a-half days to set it up. The organisation and marketing were beyond anything we have ever done before. Results were truly magical.
How would you like people to remember you and your company?
A company that has a heart for our people; that gives back to the community; that’s Sint Maarten owned. Tis we own thing! We have our hearts in the right place; it’s a company that has the answers to all your business needs.
Besides money, what is your favourite way to reward your workers?
To be honest, we have not done much of this and I really should be doing so much more for them. They are great. We have been going non-stop since Irma. I do force them to go on a vacation – Lol.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Handling our first project abroad – which was Carrefour Curaçao. Furthermore, we have hit every big project deadline on time.
What is the most outrageous request a client has ever made?
Haha… I had to make a 3d Front light F#@K Sixty sign.
If you could be anything else other than an entrepreneur, what would you be and why?
A lifelong back packer and travel the world. In business, you take life way too seriously. You tend to keep going and forget to make time to enjoy life. I love to travel, but have not done much of that in the past four years.
What keeps you busy outside of Livvitt?
My lovely daughters, family BBQ’s and I love to dine out.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Just chilling at home on the couch watching a movie; I make sure my home is my sanctuary.
What advice would you give to someone now starting out in a business?
Get mentally prepared for the challenge. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. You will get obstacles, it means you need to take another look and maybe change your approach. Or it’s time to fix the problem. Read or watch Think Rich Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. You will save lots of time trying to figure out the remedy that works. It’s all about energy. Filter your friends or whoever is negative out of your life. This you will do a few times during your venture. Meditate! Surround yourself with likeminded people. Find an experienced business mentor. Trust your vision and follow the process. Listen to the universe. It speaks! Listen to your own gut. Don’t listen to everyone’s advice. Don’t ever give up without a fight.
When he is not out fighting crime, Estario Petty enjoys entertaining audiences as DJ Petty. He tells us about himself in this week’s Hot Seat.
Pisces-born managing director and Hall of Fame Production lead Zumba instructor Learie Hall stunned the audience and captured judges’ hearts to win the first event Mr. Genuine Quality (GQ) pageant, held at Emilio Wilson Park on Saturday, March 30. St. Maarten’s first- ever Mr. GQ winner is here to tell us what he’s up to since his big win.