February 21, 2017

Lucky Number Seven


Seven is one of my lucky numbers, so I'm working on creating as much as possible this year. 2017 has started off on a great note for me personally, so I want to transfer some of that positive energy to various projects and passions throughout the year.

For Skip to Malou, I want to focus on travelling and exploring more, both locally and internationally. Travelling is one of my favourite hobbies, and luckily I have a partner who is just as excited to hop on a plane as I am, so we have some cool trips lined up this year which I plan to share on here, as well as recaps of previous trips that I haven't shared as yet. 

That said, Barbados has a lot to offer and I don't think that I'm doing this island any justice by just posting beautiful photos of the beach and ocean. There is so much much more to see and do, and I want to share more of that on here. 


I've been working on re structuring, re strategising and re connecting with the blogging community this year - for both my business blogs and my personal blog.

My first step in this process of was to connect with fellow bloggers and business owners across various platforms. I've joined a number of awesome groups on Facebook, all of which are very informative and inspiring and I have already learned so much from them! So far some of my favourites are:


My second step was start sharing more and also follow more people who inspire me to either travel or up my social media game. Some of my favourites so far are:


Do you have any other travel and lifestyle blogs you would like to recommend? Please let me know!

Over the course of this year you'll see some changes and improvements to this blog, and I look forward to getting feedback and suggestions along the way.
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January 12, 2017

Opening Gala at the Barbados Independent Film Festival


The inaugural Barbados Independent Film Festival kicked off at the new Walled Garden Theatre at the Barbados Museum & Historical Society last night with the screening of Stephen Lang's film "Beyond Glory." If the Opening Gala was any indication of what's to come at the BIFF, we're in for quite the treat this week.




The Festival features length films and shorts from around the world that celebrate the power of resilience and humankind’s capacity to overcome adversity, through an array of nightly special events, including a gala celebration, filmmaker receptions and compelling Q & A’s and workshops.


We signed up to volunteer with the Film Festival as Social Media Coordinators through our company Meraki Media and it's been such an exciting experience, with an incredible team of people. Film Makers, producers, actors and directors have flown in from all corners of the globe to be a part of this event.


There are over 30 films being shown at three venues: The Walled Garden Theatre, Limegrove Cinemas and the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination. 

A few of my favourites include:
  • Lamb (Ethiopia) - Yared Zeleke's remarkable feature debut tells the story of young Ephraim, a half-Jewish, Ethiopian boy who is sent by his father to live among distant relatives after his mother's death. Ephraim uses his cooking skills to carve out a place among his cousins, but when his uncle decides that his beloved sheep must be sacrificed for the next religious feast, he will do anything to save the animal and return home. Yared is here in Barbados and there will be a Q&A discussion after the screening. Tickets are available here.



  • Catching the Sun (USA) - An unemployed American worker, a Tea Party activist, and a Chinese solar entrepreneur race to lead the clean energy future. But who wins and who loses the battle for power in the 21st century? There will be a panel discussion on Barbados’ renewable energy sector after the screening. Tickets are available here.

  • Sci-Fi Double Feature - Friday the 13th will feature a great night of Post Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Thrillers and you can meet the young, up and coming filmmakers who made them at a post screening Q&A. Winner of this year's TriBeCa Film Festival Audience Award, in Here Alone (USA), a young woman struggles to survive on her own in the wake of a mysterious epidemic that has decimated society and forced her deep into the unforgiving wilderness. In the award-winning Diverge (USA)- The survivor of a deadly virus is given the chance to reclaim his lost life by stopping the man responsible for the disease. If you're into The Walking Dead, this is your jam. Tickets are available here.




  • Award Presentations & Shorts night - A pop up film screening on Dover beach of shorts and Machel Montano's 'Bazodee' followed by a beach party. This event is FREE & Open to the Public but you must register for tickets via Paypal link. Tickets are available here. If this isn't what you imagine a Caribbean Film Festival to look like, I don't know what is.




Here is the full schedule of events & screenings:




Tickets for the Barbados Film Festival are Bds$25 per regular screening and are available online or at any Ticketpal Caribbean retailer. You can also buy tickets at the door of any of these events!

For further information on the festival you can visit www.barbadosfilmfest.org


The Barbados Independent Film Festival is a registered non-profit organisation.




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December 21, 2016

Barbados Independent Film Festival



I'm super excited to share Barbados Film Festival​ with you all! 

This Independent Film Festival is the first of its kind here in Barbados and we have some pretty amazing people flying in from all over the world to be a part of it - including Ethiopian film director Yared Zeleke ('Lamb') and actors Stephen Lang and Andrew McCarthy. 

Not only will there be some pretty fancy and fun events - like a red carpet gala and a FREE 'Shorts on the Beach' event - but they're also putting together workshops for local film producers and actors. So much to say about this, but it's probably easiest for you to check out their page and the longgg list of international films that are going to be screened! (A few more are being added this week) 

Some of my favourites so far include:


The event runs from Jan 11th - 15th and tickets are now on sale via Ticketpal. 


#BimLovesFilm
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December 16, 2016

Barbados Local Gift Guide 2016


Since moving back to Barbados a few years ago and starting my own businesses, I've become more aware of local products and supporting local businesses.

Supporting Local is not only very practical in a small island where Amazon Prime seems like a distant dream but it has quite a profound ripple effect. In Barbados we tend to have this perception that something from 'overseas' is better than something local, but these brands below are proving that that is definitely not the case. 

Supporting local is more than a feel-good, 'it's-worth-paying-more-for-local' matter. It's about increasing supply and demand and in turn, boosting our economy on a whole.
Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally-owned business, rather than internationally-owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, and farms -- continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community. 

While Barbados is largely a service-providing country right now, we're still just a generation away from being a nation of producers. The question is: what economic framework will help us reclaim those skills and that potential? Supporting local is a step towards reaching that potential.

Finding out about local products, businesses and services isn't always easy and many businesses depend on word of mouth recommendations to raise their profiles in Barbados. I did some digging for this post and crowdsourced some of these recommendations. I tried to:
  • include a wide range of products and ideas, for men and women
  • to stay away from the more better known items that have been around for a while 
  • List items that I like personally
The items below are either made in Barbados or made up of over 75% local products.
Writing a gift guide is a first for me, so I hope to be able to grow this list to include an even wider range next year. If you have any recommendations, please let me know.


Island Bags

Island Bags is a range of cosmetic bags and handbags designed and manufactured in Barbados. Each Island Bag is heat printed by hand with a photograph of Barbadian scenes, or of items such as shells and other sea life, or simpler designs such as this cute striped clutch. Check out their Facebook page.




Donating to a local charity


If you're not sure who you would like to support this season or want to donate to a charity in someone else's name, here are a few of my favourite causes and charities that I suggest you check out:


Beard Island Gang 


For all of the hairy men in your life! 'Flavours' include avocado and hempseed and eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint. You can contact them via Instagram.


Nature's Oils


Natasha's products are a staple in my home and a my go-to gift for friends and family. From her passionfruit pepper jelly, to her sundried tomato tapenade and stir fry sauces, everything is delicious and made in Natasha's kitchen. She doesn't really use a Facebook page but you can find her at Brighton, Hastings and Holder's Farmer's Markets with her parents who help her out (Note her Dad peeking in to the photo above!)

Something Samarah

Something Samarah has everything from cute clutches and bags to bespoke jewellery and Christmas ornaments, all made by hand in Barbados. Her porcelain beads can be soaked in your favourite scents for a subtle hint of perfume all day long. Check her out on Instagram for pricing and custom orders.

Image on the right by The Morgan Media

Suga Apple Swim


These swimsuits blew up this year after Rihanna was spotted wearing on and the brand's designs have continued to evolve. They're all very sexy and flattering for various body shapes and most of the printed designs are produced in small batches. Check out their Facebook page.



Frame & Art Co. - The Anonymous Charity Art Show 


Over 100 original paintings created in diverse styles and subject matters are featured on 12” x 12” canvases to be sold anonymously. The artist remains a mystery, until after the purchase. A portion of the proceeds will go towards the Nature Fun Ranch which helps young people with their personal development, by cultivating positive outlooks. The ranch allows young people to speak freely with one another about important topics, including HIV/AIDS, providing them with a positive focus to guide their lives in the right direction, in a rural setting while tending to horses, working vegetable patches, or managing fish hatcheries. The show continues through January 14th. Check their website.


Wyndham Coffee


Locally roasted coffee and teas with great branding and packaging. They roast and package the coffee fresh to order, using carefully vetted sources, in-season Specialty Grade beans with preferences of Certified Organic, Fair Trade and Regional Sources when possible. You can check them out on their website.


Local Christmas Cards

You can purchase our these local Christmas Greeting Card Set at Brighton Farmers Market on Saturday 17th December or at Holders Farmers Market on Sunday 18th December. Josh Clarke is a local underwater photographer and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Barbados Sea Turtle Project. You can reach Josh on Instagram.


Donating Blood


Barbados has dangerously low rates of voluntary blood donations. According to an article published in 2013, less than 200 people are consistent donors. During hectic times of the year like Crop Over and the holidays fewer people come to the centre, making the deficit even more critical. You can read more about donating blood in Barbados - even if you're a visitor to the island! -  in my recent blog post. Give the gift of life this holiday season!


WaxWorx


Wax Worx is a candlemaking company located in Barbados producing environmentally friendly candles.  All of the candles are hand-poured in Barbados using soy wax, cotton wicks and either essential oils or phthalate free scents - they also have beeswax available! These candles contain no chemicals which means that it will burn clean without any pollutants, which is a win win for everyone and the environment. Check out their Facebook page.


Brown Bag Living


This company has made it easier than ever to get your weekly dose of local fruit and vegetables. Subscribe with BBL and get a variety of locally grown produce delivered to your home or office every week. Not only are you supporting a local business, but you're supporting local farmers and suppliers as well. Read more about it and sign up here.

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I hope you enjoyed this list! If you have any suggestions for future posts, please get in touch.



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December 8, 2016

Donating Blood in Barbados


I'm embarrassed to say that I donated blood for the first two weeks ago. 

I've had blood work done before and though I felt pretty nauseous when I watched the blood being extracted, but I can't really use a fear of needles or the sight of blood as an excuse for not donating.

Donating blood is always something I've felt that I 'should' do, but never really got around to it.

It was only recently when someone near and dear to me needed blood that I finally looked into donating blood. This seems to be a trend in Barbados, and it's just not good enough. I'm writing this blog post in a bid to encourage more people to donate blood on a consistent basis. 



Since my blood donation I've been doing a bit of digging and found some interesting information about blood donation in Barbados:

Barbados has dangerously low rates of voluntary blood donations. According to an article published in 2013, less than 200 people are consistent donors.
- Most Barbadians only give blood if a relative or friend is pregnant, ill or if they were involved in an accident.
- During hectic times of the year like Crop Over and the holidays fewer people come to the centre, making the deficit even more critical.
- There is a Blood Donors of Barbados Facebook Group, where people post announcements about donations and encourage others to donate.
Red Donor is a social initiative aimed at increasing the capacity of a safe and constant supply of blood for every member of the community in Barbados.
The US National Library of Medicine published this paper on knowledge, attitudes and practices towards blood donation in Barbados, and discusses strategies for a voluntary blood donor mobilisation campaign in Barbados.  Apparently, single, female and younger participants were less likely to donate blood. 



When I was trying to arrange my donation, it took some digging to find the answers to some of my questions:

- What number do I call?
- Did I need to book an appointment?
- Did I need to prepare myself in any way before donating? (Such as cutting out alcohol the night before)
- How long does the procedure take (in Barbados time)?

After finally figuring out that I needed to call the general QEH number, I spent over an hour trying to get through to a human being to ask some questions, with no luck. 

Eventually, I just showed up at the blood bank and asked some questions. The Blood Bank team were some of the nicest people I've ever met, and I was in and out of there in less than an hour.  The QEH’s Blood Collection Centre is located next to the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic in Lady Meade Gardens. You can see it on the map here




Here is a breakdown of the process:

Step 1: Registration


I waited for about 5 minutes in the waiting room before being asked to come in to the first screening room.  A very friendly nurse took down some info and asked me some questions about my medical history, etc., as well as who I was donating for. 

Though she did ask me for my identification number, I didn't have to show proof of address, which leads me to believe that you can donate blood when visiting Barbados. I just checked this and any visitor to the island can donate blood.

Following the registration, the nurse took a tiny pin prick of blood from my finger to test it before we continued on to the other room. This was painless!

Step 1 took a total of 15 minutes. 

Step 2: Donation

I was led in to a bright room with 6 beds. Every bed was occupied by someone donating blood. I was placed next to a guy who was also donating for the first time, and his animated play by play made everyone around us laugh. He was clearly nervous but took it like a champ despite the nurses teasing him!


The nurse took my blood pressure and then inserted the needle into my right arm, as I squeezed a ball to keep the blood flowing. This was pretty painless, though I did look away as she inserted the needle as it felt a bit uncomfortable.


The extraction took about 15 minutes total. They removed the needle and took away the bag of blood. At this point I felt a little woozy, so they tilted my bed back (to help get some blood flowing to my head) and put a damp paper towel on my forehead. I was asked to drink some juice and eat a cookie to get some sugar in my system.



Within 5 minutes I felt perfectly fine, though I chilled on the bed for another 20 minutes. The team was really friendly and making everyone laugh, which helped everyone relax as they donated. 

Step 2 took a total of 35 minutes.

In total, I spent less than an hour in the clinic.

I was told to come back the following week to receive my donor card. I also asked the team to show me where all of the blood is stored - because who doesn't want to see a fridge full of blood? - and they happily obliged:



As a healthy twentysomething who meets all of the requirements of a blood donor, I can't believe it took me this long to bite the bullet and finally give up a quart of my blood. I'll be back at the clinic in 3 months time when I can donate again.

With the demand of blood due to increase over the festive season, I encourage those who are eligible to consider donating blood or doing it more often if you've already done so. If you're a donor, try to inspire and motivate your friends to donate blood and help them realise the profound impact they can have on someone’s life.

Read more info about the Blood Collection Centre Info here.

Read Blood Donation FAQs here.



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November 18, 2016

WINC Acceleration Programme

At the beginning of this year, I entered into WINC Acceleration Program - new peer mentorship-based initiative to support high-potential women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean.

The goal of the eight-month intensive Acceleration Program was to provide participants with a wide range of support services aimed at improving competitiveness and boosting our growth. This included peer-learning, personal development, one-to-one mentoring/coaching, technical workshops, and motivational sessions by entrepreneur role models.



The new initiative was part of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Program in the Caribbean (EPIC), funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by the World Bank Group and its infoDev program for entrepreneurship. It was delivered by certified facilitators in 12 Caribbean countries: Antigua & Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. 

Women entrepreneurs in these countries were eligible for selection provided that they:

-  have a company that has been in business for several years
-  have demonstrated significant business growth
-  have realistic plans for future growth

Luckily, my start up Island Sitters met this criteria, and after an intense application process, I was selected to participate along with 15 other female entrepreneurs in Barbados. 



I entered in to this programme with high hopes as I was facing many obstacles that were hindering growth in my business; ranging from payment system limitations in Barbados, to operations and mentorship. After 10 months, I am still facing many of these challenges and I now realise that perhaps I was relying too heavily on the programme and not my own problem solving skills to come up with the right solutions. However, I benefitted from this  experience in so many unexpected ways.

Entrepreneurship in Barbados is no bed of roses - in fact, it's often really challenging and downright annoying because of the roadblocks we face in this developing island. From rigid, overbearing banking systems, sexist and outdated attitudes towards women, to a lack of professionalism and accountability in many areas, it's pretty tough getting things done. Running your own business is a challenge no matter where you are, but there are certain things that business owners have to deal with in a developing region such as the Caribbean that are unfathomable in other countries.  

On the other hand, it is programmes such as WINC that reinforce the belief that Barbados is like a village; and it just as it takes a village to raise a child, it seems to take a village to run a successful business. The relationships you form become your support system, and I'm really grateful to have met such an inspiring group of women this year who lifted me up and taught me a lot about myself.



From sharing experiences to offering advice, this group of business professionals gave me a sense of perspective, and often a greater sense of relief. Women entrepreneurs tend to be really hard on ourselves, and it's really comforting to know that others often go through the same things. In Barbados people are not very open and honest about failing, especially in business - as a society we tend to focus on successes and we often do not talk about the details of what people go through on the road to success. This group was very different; we discussed debt, relationships, betrayal and other juicy, scary stuff.

Their shared experiences and knowledge helped me see things in a different light, and offered insight in to many areas of business that I have overlooked. As the youngest participant in this group, I also felt like I was meeting with a group of big sisters who were candid, honest and nurturing. 

One of the greatest aspects of the WINC programme was connecting with my mentor, Barbara. We were paired by the programme facilitator, based on my business goals and Barbara's business experience. From the moment we met I felt at ease, and we had many enjoyable mentoring sessions. I have tried to attract a nice mentor who understands me for some time now, and I was so lucky to have someone who not only let me be myself, but also understood my business and the steps I needed to take to help it grow.

Our programme culminated with a graduation ceremony on Wednesday, during Global Entrepreneurship Week and Women's Entrepreneurship Day. As we stood on that stage, I looked across the stage at the women who I have gotten to know over the course of the year, and felt very lucky to be a part of such an empowering network.



If you're a female entrepreneur who is looking to grow and scale your business, I encourage you to apply. Even if you're not sure, you can reach out to our Facilitator Donna Every, who can answer any questions you may have! 

The WINC programme is now accepting applications for their 2017 programme. To apply, contact info@donnaevery.com

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November 17, 2016

Dive with my Dad

A few weeks ago my Dad and I went diving together off of the South coast of Barbados.
My Dad recently moved back to Barbados from Brazil and he was itching to get in the water as often as possible to make up for lost time. We checked out a bar between 60 - 80ft.
We were both there to shoot - my Dad was hunting lionfish with his speargun, while I was having fun shooting with my GoPro...


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November 16, 2016

10 Best Coffee & WiFi Spots in Barbados


Barbados is relatively new to the coffee/cafe scene, and has only been serving specialty coffees for a few very short years. Fortunately though, thanks to a constant flow of expats and visitors from around the world and the perseverance of some avid coffee enthusiasts, Barbados is now well on it’s way to providing stellar coffee to the island masses. This list will give you an insight into the islands’ expanding coffee scene and provide with some of the best spots to get your caffeine & WiFi fix (because the two tend to go hand in hand...) in Barbados. This list is also quite useful for groups and individuals who need free meeting locations.

Cafe La Suite
1. Cafe La Suite
Location: Limegrove, Holetown, St.James
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: Yes
An extension of the Un Dimanche a Paris boutique in Limegrove, this café is equally as chic as the store. Prices are steep, but the coffee is delicious. 

2. Italia Coffee House 
Locations: Grantley Adams International Airport, Sheraton Mall, Quayside Centre (Rockley), City of Bridgetown Building (Lower Broad Street, Bridgetown), Colonnade Mall (Bridgetown) and Sunset Crest.
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: All except Quayside Centre have airconditioning
Italia Coffee House, formerly known as Italia D'oro, is often seen as the pioneer of the coffee movement in Barbados as it was one of the first coffee shops to open its doors to this then relatively uninformed island. I have very fond memories of trying my first frappuccino (they call it a frescante) at aged 14. Quality is consistent and the locations are  all very convenient.


Artsplash Cafe
3. Artsplash Cafe
Location: Hastings Main Road, Christ Church
Air-conditioned: No
Free WiFi: Yes
ArtSplash is a community art centre, cafe, gallery and play park with a very 'granola', laid back vibe. They have a weekly farmer’s market and a huge play park in the back for children. The front gallery is very breezy and every item on their menu is delicious.

4. Coffee Barbados
Location: George Washington House, The Garrison Savannah, Christ Church
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: No
Family run business, tucked away on the grounds of the historical George Washington House.  Find a spot on the terrace, sit back and enjoy the eclectic playlist in the background. Their extensive lunch menu is locally sourced, fresh and great for vegetarians.

Coffee Bean
5. Coffee Bean
Locations: Warrens (located inside of Orange Mall), Hastings (next door to Amaryliss Resort), Peronne Village (behind Big B/Massy Supermarket) , Upstairs in Pages Cave Shepherd in Bridgetown.
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: Yes
Great service, wifi and a nice space to work in with a selection of interesting coffee blends and alternatives (Chai frappe anyone?). All Coffee Bean locations also offer a great lunch menu which pleases both locals and expats alike, but be prepared to queue during lunch hour and [locals] to be interrupted by lots of people you know #smallislandproblems

6. Relish
Locations: Simpson Motors (Warrens) and Limegrove, Holetown, St.James
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: Yes
Yummy food at a steep price, great service and a nice atmosphere in the Limegrove location. Lots of international treats and snacks for vegetarians, vegans and gluten free diets.

Marriott Hotel Lobby
7. Marriott Hotel Lobby
Location: Marriott Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: Yes
The first of its kind in Barbados; a café combining good coffee with an office environment, this co-working space maintains a relaxed silence allowing freelancers to work away from home at ease. The colourful office-like interior has all of the essentials to facilitate hard work; fast wifi, nice communal spaces and a good coffee; a true hidden gem!

Open Kitchen
8. Open Kitchen
Location: Archer's Hall Showroom, Millhouse, St.Thomas
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: Yes
Open Kitchen has become quite the spot recently and it's a central location for lunch meetings and coffee dates. Set amongst an upmarket furniture showroom, this cafe has a bit of everything; from daily lunch specials and a great selection of coffees and sweet treats to some of the best pizza on the island.


Graham Hall Nature Sanctuary
9. Graham Hall Nature Sanctuary
Location: Oistins, Christ Church
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: No
The little cafe is almost hidden away, the staff is very friendly and the coffee is good enough to get you through an afternoon of work. However, the real gem is outside; there are tables with umbrellas positioned right on the edge of the pond, and there's WiFi outside. Perfect spot for a meeting in the early morning or late afternoon when it's a bit cooler.


Surfer's Cafe
10. Surfer's Cafe, Oistins
Location: Oistins, Christ Church
Free WiFi: Yes
Air-conditioned: No, make sure to ask for a spot on the water (There's also a cool area in the back)
Cute, locally run cafe right on the water, with a very beachy, surfer vibe. Great for meeting a friend and shooting the breeze.

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If you have any further suggestions, please let me know. I'm always keen to try out new places and to support local businesses.



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