Natasha Jones’ entrepreneurial journey is reminiscent of the parable of the talents. Gifted Out Island Printing in 2014 by its original owner, she multiplied the business, strengthening the flagship location in Abaco and opening an additional location in Exuma. However, like most success stories, the journey has been a winding road, with potholes the size of craters and the road to her current triumph lined with challenges.
In September 2019, the gusty winds of Hurricane Dorian rendered a catastrophic blow that left Jones’ business virtually lifeless, that is until a grant from the Access Accelerator blew a breath of fresh air into her passion and gave her the drive she needed to move forward.
“I don’t know where I would’ve been without the help from the Access Accelerator,” she said. “It brought the business back to life, and we couldn’t have recreated Out Island without the assistance. This second opportunity inspired me to keep going.”
Jones began working at Out Island Printing as a manager in 2011. Just one year after joining Out Island Printing, the company’s initial owner decided to relocate and offered the business to Jones.
“I was offered the business at a really good cost, and it was an offer I knew had God’s hands on it,” Jones shared. “It was exactly what I prayed for, and it was presented to me in a written letter that I still have today. I was overjoyed! I was not expecting everything to happen so soon, but I was mentally ready, having prepared myself for years.”
Jones said she was not nervous during the transitional period because she knew the business “inside out” and felt like she was in her comfort zone. Being a business owner seemed like it would be a walk in the park during the early months, but Jones’ first hurdle soon emerged. “I suffered from appendicitis. As a single mother and the sole lifeforce behind the operation, the business closed as I underwent treatment and healed,” she explained.
After recovery, Jones relaunched the print shop, working from home to rebuild her brand. After overcoming her first obstacle, the road ahead began to level.
“One of my customers recommended that I move the business from my home and establish a storefront,” Jones shared. “Initially, I was very scared and worried about the increased overhead costs, but I took the plunge anyway and relocated to a storefront in November 2014.”
Jones said the risk appeared to work out because business was picking up, and she was planning to go on her first vacation in years. She said she even ordered additional supplies to ensure that things ran seamlessly during her short break, but then Hurricane Doran hit.
“I lost approximately $70,000 in equipment and inventory,” Jones said. “It was especially difficult because the business was not insured, and I was pregnant at the time. The only thing I had left was the Exuma location with one printer and one computer.”
This setback was just the beginning of an onslaught of stumbling blocks that would test Jones’ commitment to her craft and determine whether she would reach her desired destination.
After Hurricane Dorian ravaged her home and swept away her livelihood, she relocated to the United States, giving birth to a son in February. Now, the little money she earned went towards rebuilding her home and raising her newborn, leaving her with little to no funds to rebuild her storefront.
Undeterred, Jones pushed forward, always keeping in mind her dream. While in the US, she received a call from the Access Accelerator, they had a response to the funding application she resubmitted – her grant application has been approved.
“I started screaming and called my husband to let him know,” she stated. “As far as rebuilding, Access Accelerator was the only capital I had.”
Still abroad, Jones got back in gear and began ordering new equipment. In May 2020, she moved back to Nassau and set up temporary operations working from her mother’s home. Once she announced that Out Island Printing was back in business, the response she received blew her mind.
In just weeks, her print shop was flourishing, and on occasion, she would have to stay up all night – sometimes working until five in the morning – to complete and ship orders.
In March 2021, Jones returned to Abaco, where she purchased an office trailer, and on April 19th, she officially reopened Out Island Printing.
“Since reopening, things have been very busy, and I have plans to build a new state-of-the-art facility and open a third location in Eleuthera,” she said. “At first, all we had were two printers, office supplies, and one computer. Now, including our Exuma location, we have three computers, seven printers, three vinyl cutters, four heat presses for shirts and mugs and office supplies, and a wide format printer”.
While the journey seemed to even out a bit, Jones still encounters ruts in the road now and then. One of her most “difficult challenges” to date, she said, is operating a business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There have been major delays causing issues completing orders,” she explained. “I would also say trying to balance being a mom and wife with being a full-time entrepreneur sometimes gets rough.”
Looking back now, Jones said she can’t believe her business is still standing nine years later.
“I’m still here, and we’re still busy,” she said. “We still have customers who walk in our doors who have walked in from day one. Now we do work for Bakers Bay and also landed the Abaco Club, our biggest client.” Jones said she would like to build her facilities in the next five years.
“I want it to be modern and state of the art,” she explained. “I want to eventually hire a full team so we can offer more services. Ultimately, I want to become a marketing firm and offer marketing services. I also wanted to expand to Eleuthera.”
All in all, Jones said her experience had inspired her to pay it forward. “Because we are celebrating nine years, we are going to gift a full rebranding package to a lucky client,” she said. “This business was given to me (so) it’s our way of giving back.”