Self Starter Company Plans To Create 15 New Jobs
Many children dream of becoming a doctor or lawyer. But not Anthony Saunders. For a long time he has wanted to venture into a career that would enable him to combine his two passions: junkanoo and photography.
In May 2010, the 24-year-old came one step closer to achieving that dream when he beat out hundreds of other applicants to secure a $5,000 grant from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s Self-Starter Program. Saunders says he plans to use this rare opportunity to establish a junkanoo photography company.
“People go to Disney World to take pictures with Mickey Mouse and to Washington D.C. to take pictures of the White House. I’ll be promoting one of this country’s premiere cultural art forms in the same way,” says Saunders. “My plan is to have mini-studios around Bay Street especially during the three major parades. We’ll take visitors’ and locals’ photos with beautiful Junkanoo backdrops. Visitors can have fun beating goatskin drums and ringing cowbells while we photograph them,” says Saunders. “These special cultural experiences are what makes the Bahamas visit so enjoyable and memorable.”
In order to make this business venture a success, Saunders signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from the Junkanoo Corporation of New Providence. “None of this would be possible without the Junkanoo Corporation and people like the corporation’s chairman Silbert Ferguson,” Saunders says. “I have to thank Randy Dorsett and the whole committee for their support and for encouraging a young entrepreneur such as me.”
Saunders’ business acumen has also lead him to form a relationship with Trans-Ocean Photos, Inc, a New York-based photography company with over 50 years of experience in the business. During that period, Trans-Ocean has taken many millions of photographs. This relationship will provide Saunders access to state-of-the-art equipment and training. “When we take your picture, that image automatically appears on one of the high-quality monitors. Once you’ve selected your favorite, your photo will be in your hand within 90 seconds,” Saunders explains.
The company’s services don’t end there. Saunders also announced that he, along with the Junkanoo Corporation, will be publishing the Official Junkanoo Calendar each year. The calendar will go to tens of thousands of junkanooers and fans in early January. The big prize costume will be on the cover and each month it will feature a winner from the two big parades. “Our calendar will promote junkanoo in a super-visible way. I can see this calendar being on thousands of walls, in offices and homes around the island. It will help raise funds for the Corporation. Companies can sponsor either the front cover or one of the months. The idea is being enthusiastically received. People are already asking how they can get in it,” says Saunders. “We’ll start calling companies up next week.”
Saunders also talked about the special souvenir keychain scope mementos that he plans for the three junkanoo parades. On several side streets, Anthony’s will set up mini-studios with colourful backdrops and costumes. For a few dollars, visitors and locals can be photographed and have their special photo inserted in a keychain viewer scope. The process takes less than a couple minutes. Saunders says proceeds will also help fund junkanoo. “It’s a great fund raiser and a way to show your loyalty to your favourite group”, says Saunders. “We’ll also be photographing at some of the practices to raise money for each group and junkanoo in general. The group leaders love that idea,” says Saunders.
Currently, the young entrepreneur surrounds himself with a small professional team and, starting in November, he plans to provide jobs and high-level training for 15 young Bahamians. Once hired, they will be trained in professional theme and social photography, lead by the international partner Trans-Ocean.
Saunders pointed out that it’s only fair that he give his fellow Bahamians the same opportunity to better themselves that was given to him. “Things are tough right now,” he says. “I want to go beyond giving young Bahamians a job—I want to give them a skill so that they can perhaps go on to open up their own photo studio. I think it’s important to empower my peers and inspire them to take a leadership role in this country. I want them to strive to become owners, not just employees.”
Anthony Saunders says he has overcome many challenges to achieve his goal. He wasn’t much more than a toddler when he and two of his older siblings were sent to live at the Ranfurly Home for Children. “I was only four at the time,” he says. “But I will never forget sneaking into my older brother’s bed in the middle of the night because I was afraid to sleep in the dark by myself.” After a year, he moved to Abaco to live with his father. “My dad taught me that in order to make it in life, you have to work hard for what you want,” he says.