As published in Gleaner’s Flair magazine September 18, 2017
“It is better to teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish,” says 23-year-old entrepreneur and fashion, wardrobe stylist and SAHS Old Girl Kristia Franklin, who has a dream of building her nation by creating a generation of entrepreneurs driven to excel.
Franklin, who also goes by the name Tia, has always been business oriented. Her mother introduced her to the art of business at 10 years old and sparked an interest that quickly became an ambition. Nothing excited the youngster more than selling or finding ways to increase her savings. Whether it was joining the canteen line for others at lunchtime for a service charge or selling key chains, jewellery, clothes and posters of famous people in high school, to later selling clothes out of her car in university, to now owning and operating an online clothes store.
This mentality developed a strong, humble young woman who sees her blessings and believes “to whom much is given much is expected”. Though giving back seems like second nature to Franklin, she recalls the day when the importance of service became dominant in her life and became a duty.
BIRTH OF GIMMI LOVE REVOLUTION
“I will never forget when the principal of St Andrew High School for Girls, Mrs Sharon Reid, stood up and asked my class ‘How do you serve the Lord?’ We all gave answers like, ‘By worshipping, praying, going to church, read your Bible’. When she didn’t get the response she was looking for and realised we were baffled she said, ‘To serve the Lord we must first serve each other.’ Those words changed my life and led me to Gimmi Love Revolution,” Franklin told Flair.
With her love for fashion, children, entrepreneurship and culture, Franklin has transformed her long-term vision of solving unemployment in Jamaica into an initiative that motivates and teaches children to use their skills and talents as a means of employment in the future.
“In 20 years I want job opportunities to be overflowing in Jamaica where entrepreneurs are in need of employees. I think the way to fix unemployment is to create a generation that can instead create employment in a couple years. I went further and thought, why not start to teach entrepreneurship?” she said.
TO FLEET STREET AND BEYOND
Then the question of “what will they sell?” came to mind. It wasn’t long after that Franklin saw where she could use resources from the communities to create products. Being in the fashion industry, Kristia instantly thought of teaching the children to make calabash bags, adding crochet at the top to give it a unique and original touch.
In July, Franklin, along with her friend Khadija Haughton, journeyed to Fleet Street with the children of central Kingston and kick started the Gimmi Love Revolution. With a two-week workshop, the children made and designed a number of bags, adding their own creative touch to the products. Franklin and Khadija then provided a platform for the children to sell their products (along with selling on their own), and the money from each sale goes to trust for educational purposes, whether school fees, back-to-school expenses or college tuitions.
“The parents were so welcoming and the children were so eager to learn and start their own businesses so they could let people know they are entrepreneurs. We have generated a lot of sales and interest since, for which I thank God,” Franklin said with a smile.
This is just the start of Gimmi Love Franklin explains, as they hope to start these programmes in more communities. Planning their next stop in Trench Town, St Andrew, Gimmi Love will be showing children that they have options.
“They don’t have to go with the tradition of growing up and going job searching after a certain age or level of qualification. The aim is to educate them that they have the option of creating their own business and helping them to see it come to life,” she said.
While the Gimmi Love Revolution continues to focus on children entrepreneurship, Franklin plans on creating Gimmi Love Daily within the next couple of years. This will focus on giving back, but giving back in a fun and non-traditional way.
“It will be so fun you won’t even realise you are giving. So there will be branches of Gimmi Love,” she tells Flair.
The young humanitarian dedicates her time and heart to promote human welfare while remembering her brother, Raymond Franklin, and his kindness so as to leave a mark on the earth in his name.