A dream became a reality for 30-year-old Kalisa Martin who believes that “If you’re scrappy and resourceful, you can change your life with less than you might think.” So she did. And she did it with no money! She quit her job, and moved from New York City to Jamaica to start a Bed & Breakfast.
It was while Kalisa and her boyfriend, Jeff, were visiting Jamaica one cold wintry March in 2014 that the idea occurred to her. Although she knew nothing about the hotel business, she had an impressive background in food.
As brand director at Tasting Table, a digital media company that focuses on food and drink, she holds degrees in food science and nutrition from Cornell University and chef training from the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan. Jeff’s expertise is brand strategy and marketing. So together, they decided to open a community-oriented luxury Bed & Breakfast on Jamaica’s north coast called The Runaway.
The fascinating part of Kalisha’s story is how she was able to start her own B&B with no money. She had everything she needed but the funding! So she announced her project on Kickstarter, an online fundraising community that helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators and entrepreneurs find the resources and support they need to turn their ideas into reality. In just a few weeks, she raised $47,000 to start her business!
Kalisha’s parents are Jamaican, so the dishes she serves at her B&B are all made from fresh, local produce and Jamaican-inspired flavors. She is even particular about the coffee she serves, so she buys her beans from a friend who grows and processes his own beans on his coffee farm in the Blue Mountains. The décor at The Runaway is light and airy and cheerful, just like Kalisha herself.
Her advice to other women who want to start businesses in the customer service industry is to pay careful attention to the needs of customers, but also to take care of yourself. She explains, “If you’re taking care of yourself and feeling good, your product will invariably be better.”
For more details about The Runaway Bed & Breakfast in Jamaica, visit www.therunawayexperience.com or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/therunawayexperience/ •