Feature
This piece of wall art created from plastic bottles is the newest addition to the Aviola Accessories line of products.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • It is said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  • This is true for entrepreneur Melissa Preddie, who has created a successful jewellery business by recycling plastic bottles.
  • It was in 2012, after finding herself unemployed, that she thought of utilising the empty containers, which she had saved over time, to create items that persons would love and, hopefully, purchase.

It is said that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

This is true for entrepreneur Melissa Preddie, who has created a successful jewellery business by recycling plastic bottles.

It was in 2012, after finding herself unemployed, that she thought of utilising the empty containers, which she had saved over time, to create items that persons would love and, hopefully, purchase.

“I got the idea to do some research and see what I could come up with. I started out making hair accessories, and then the demand for jewellery started, so I diverted to jewellery and now I am also doing art pieces,” Miss Preddie tells JIS News.

Out of ingenuity and creativity, her business, Aviola Accessories, was born.

Through the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Miss Preddie received a $60,000 grant, which she used to purchase materials, tools and equipment to start the jewellery line, and assistance to speed up production.

“I later became an affiliate with the Social Development Commission (SDC), and they helped with marketing and promotion. Whenever they would have outings in the Mandeville community where I am from, they would call me and I would go and set up (displays), so that persons could see what innovative ideas can come from just about anything,” Miss Preddie tells JIS News.

Through the SDC’s Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP), she also benefited from a $50,000 grant and was able to grow her business even more. She moved Aviola Accessories from Manchester to St. Andrew to better serve the growing customer base in the Corporate Area.

SDC Local Economic Development Coordinator for the parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, Damian Lowe, says Aviola Accessories was among enterprises that received business development coaching.

He says that the small business stood out because “here is a young person taking up the mantle of not only looking about a business but caring for the environment”.

“Therefore, we wanted to be a part of this journey, through our Local Economic Development Support Programme,” he tells JIS News.

Aviola Accessories is now an LEDSP ambassador, and Miss Preddie will be sharing her story and experience in a more organsied and meaningful way to other aspiring business owners or persons, who are just starting a business.

“We are going to create a platform for a bigger buzz around Aviola Accessories, so that a greater audience can be reached, but also so that she can give back,” Mr. Lowe says.

Miss Preddie says being an LEDSP ambassador “is a wonderful feeling. I was ecstatic when I was told. It is a feeling of accomplishment at the same time, because when I started Aviola I didn’t foresee any of this happening, so to be chosen is really humbling”.

Aviola Accessories’ intricate jewellery, including earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings, which can be customised, and art pieces, can be viewed on the business’ Facebook and Instagram pages under the same name.

Over the years, the company’s clientele has grown from women, who love jewellery and art, to now include men and anyone interested in environmentally friendly items.

“I use the plastic bottles to make faux stones for the jewelry,” Ms. Preddie explains to JIS News.

She notes that “four years ago it was a challenge to convert buyers and sell the idea to them to buy sustainable and recyclable as opposed to buying precious stones. Fast forward to now, persons are now gravitating towards eco-friendly products. They are going green and it’s not just a thing, it’s a lifestyle. That is what my brand now promotes through its core values of lifestyle, environment and empowerment”.

Aviola Accessories also has corporate customers, including the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA) for which it created a line of penholders utilsing plastic bottles and wood, and Couples Resorts, for which the business will be manufacturing eco-friendly jewellery in 2019.

With no formal training in jewellery-making, Miss Preddie attributes her creativity to her late parents and grandmother. It was after her father’s passing that she learned of his own creative skills in upcycling glass bottles to create lanterns.

She pays homage to them through her brand, Aviola, which is an amalgam of all their names.

As Miss Preddie looks to expand her business, she is hoping to carve out a niche in the corporate gifts and home décor markets.

She also wants Aviola Accessories to be seen as an environmental advocate.

“We want to move to the point where we are partnering with local, like-minded organisations such as the Jamaica Environment Trust to push the awareness of recycling to another level.

“We see ourselves as advocates for recycling, not just locally but overseas. We want to make people aware that even though there are other options, sustainability is the way to go because we have to preserve our environment in order for us to enjoy our planet earth that we love so much,” she tells JIS News.