Simone Howard, serial entrepreneur with over a decade’s worth of business experience, has said that the Applied Associate of Science in Health and Wellness Tourism programme at the Excelsior Community College (ECC) has helped her to structure her businesses with more professional standards and improve the services and products she offers.
Howard, who attained her first degree in Business, Banking and Finance at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), said that she has gained great knowledge and insight which opened her eyes to business concepts “allowing us to think outside the box in a world where we are literally placed in a box to operate.”
“The programme assisted me tremendously. It is so complete that I believe it could be recognised as a Bachelor’s degree and or even a Master’s degree with areas of specialties,” she said in an interview with Our Today.
In 2018, Howard enrolled in the two-year programme, completed her studies in 2020, and graduated in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
She is the chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Sta-sh Beauty Ltd, Jamaica and Sta-sh Beauty LLC, United States which were established in 2009. She rebranded in 2019.
“Sta-sh, which stands for Shoes Things and Accessories by Simone Howard, was conceptualised while doing my first degree at UTech but it was launched after completing my degree. I was in corporate Jamaica at the time,” she explained.
The rebranding exercise included an adjustment in how Howard grouped and marketed the products and services being offered. For the beauty, health, and wellness aspect, she created The Sim Collection.
“I was inspired to rebrand based on the lessons taught during the associate’s degree programme. I also engaged in my own independent research and realised that if I wanted my brand and products to be properly recognised, I had to get more focused and specific with each aspect of my business,” she shared.
Though she started out with shoes and accessories and later shifted her focus to skin-care and wellness, she plans to venture into branded clothing and footwear soon. Her businesses also offer the services of graphics and website management, manufacturing and labelling, private meal catering, among others.
For the skincare products and services she provides, Howard said that she focuses on Jamaican-inspired natural products that are “skin safe but also effective”. For example, she uses oats purifying cleansers and turmeric-based products for hyperpigmentation and breakouts.
The Applied Associate of Science in Health and Wellness Tourism programme
The programme, offered at ECC through the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ), prepares graduates for careers in spa and health and wellness management. It is designed to prepare students with an industry-specific business foundation combined with an overview of healthful living courses with specific application to spa and health and wellness management.
“I enrolled, because at the time, I was already in the beauty and spa industry and I believed that a well rounded curriculum would enhance my capabilities and it definitely did,” she said.
She added that the Applied Associate of Science in Health and Wellness Tourism programme “has helped me to structure my business with more professional standards and it has afforded me the ability to expand my offerings of beauty and spa services. I have also been able to tap into the health and wellness industry as a wellness coach where I do lifestyle and relationship counselling as well as weight management programmes.”
The Applied Associate of Science in Health and Wellness Tourism programme was among a few degree programmes strengthened with the intervention of the Advance Program.
The Advance Program is a five-year regional technical education strengthening project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Family Health International (FHI360). It was executed in Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.
Advance, which hosted its close-out ceremony on March 23, sought to improve youth employability in new and emerging sectors for young people primarily from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Locally, the Advance Program worked with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) to strengthen degree programs in Agro-processing and Business Management, as well as Health and Wellness Tourism; the Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI) in Entertainment and Events Management as well as Digital Media; and the University of Technology (UTech) in Fashion Styling and Image Consulting as well as Design and Technology.
Other CCCJ member institutions that have benefited include College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), Portmore Community College (PCC), Knox Community College, Knockalva Polytechnic College, and Montego Bay Community College.
“I forsee the future being limitless for Sta-sh Beauty Ltd, Jamaica and Sta-sh Beauty LLC, United States as I have strategically positioned my brand to be relevant in the current trends with affiliated complementary service industries,” said Howard.
She emphasised that she operates as an entrepreneur not just to earn but to “positively impact people’s lives while helping other small businesses, and creating solutions for their problems.”
Howard has plans to return to the classroom to complete a post graduate degree at UTech. She will pursue a Master’s degree in Education.
She explained that she wants to educate people because she sees the impact that training and knoweldge sharing can have.
“There is just a feeling of joy knowing I’m educating them and helping someone to achieve the dreams and get one step closer to their goals,” she said.
Read more stories related to the Advance Program at the link below:
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