We had the good fortune of connecting with Micha Alleyne and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Micha, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My thought process was extremely strategic. I wanted to create the perfect, text-book company, which for me, meant crafting a business that solved a problem on both the supply and demand side of an underserved, but promising market; positioning this business to leverage some wave or emerging trend; and underpinning it with a robust tech DNA. Most importantly, it meant creating a values-based business that brought meaningful impact to a community I cared about and that promoted earth-consciousness.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I am half Trinidadian, half Jamaican with an undying love for my culture. I live in California, but I carry the Caribbean in my heart wherever I go. PAPAIŸO was created as a love letter to my culture and heritage with a mission to create meaningful impact in a community I care deeply about.
PAPAIŸO is purpose-built to serve Caribbean brands in the personal luxury goods market – a largely untapped, blue ocean of opportunity. In this new era of “buy local,” when global consumers are increasingly interested in values-based, artisanal brands with interesting stories to tell, we believe the Caribbean is uniquely positioned to thrive in this space. Many of the Caribbean brands we work with are artisanal and sustainable by default, embedded with a cultural identity that is beloved around the world. Unfortunately, these brands are often underrepresented in the global luxury goods market for two key reasons: access and local infrastructure. Therefore, on the one hand, PAPAIŸO functions as a B2C and B2B discovery platform where brands from the Caribbean and global buyers with an affinity towards artisanal brands can meet, greet and fall in love. On the other hand, PAPAIŸO also functions as an incubator of sorts, where these emerging brands can access an ecosystem of services tailored to the special needs of the Caribbean – services that we believe are necessary for these beautiful brands to flourish in a new digitized, globalized world. We are the first and only company offering this holistic approach in this space. We do all of this while championing values-driven, earth-friendly methods of production and consumption: we promote small-batch and made-to-order production, which reduce waste, as well as artisanal methods, which often entail using earth-friendly materials and preserving cultural traditions. In our first year of business in 2021 – a year when COVID-19 ravished the global personal luxury goods market – we realized unprecedented sales and global exposure for our top brand partners. This means the world to us.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many great spots … where to start! – El Diablo and the Kogi food truck for the best tacos
– Mrs. Fish for the best sushi
– Tar and Roses for an awesome chef-driven foodie experience
– BOA if you’re a steak lover
– Ko Juice for the most scrumptious cane juice
– Live music at Hotel Cafe
– Malibu Farm Cafe for organic, farm-to-table goodness
– Sage Bistro for the most interesting vegan bites
– A day trip to Solvang via Santa Barbara … one of my favorite day trips to make
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This is dedicated to my dear father, Mervyn – the inspiration behind PAPAIŸO and all the values that underpin it. In fact, PAPAIŸO is a twist on a Trinidadian expression – papayo – that I would always hear my father use as a little girl.