(Rueyella Blake PHOTO: Ramon D Gordon)
|Ramon D Gordon
Prompted by dissatisfaction and by dreams far greater than she’d ever realized, twenty (20) year old Rueyella Blake’s entrepreneurial prowess and commitment to self- actualization, made waves in her life, helping her accomplish things she once thought unachievable.
In Fall of 2019, for reasons beyond her control, Blakes took leave from Northern Caribbean University (NCU), where she had been pursuing a degree in Communication Studies. The decision was a difficult one and not made in jest. It came only after much consideration. Up to her departure from the University, she had been funded in part by a trust willed to her by her father, who had fallen victim to gun violence in 2004. Though he was killed 16 years ago, Blake explained that both she and her family are still reeling from the effects of his passing.
“I was only 4 years old when he was killed. It hurt them, but it really hit me when I was about ten years old. In grade school, I saw all my friends being picked up by their fathers and I wanted that. It hurt emotionally, but financially we were doing fine – until it was time for University. That’s when we started to feel the effects of his death financially.”
At first, Blake was averse to the idea of leaving school, especially having been on course to graduate in less than a year. It was a hard decision, but she explained that after much conversation with friends, family and self, she later saw her misfortune as an opportunity to give chase to new ventures.
“ I chose to make use of the time to gain some footing in the adult world. It’s what I knew I had
She assumed the role as a telecoms operator at a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) center in the town of Mandeville, to help fund what she thought would be an immediate return to school. There she made use of the opportunities thrown at her, cherishing ever lesson she was taught.
She says she learned the importance of patience and resilience, especially in a bid to ensure sublime customer relations and maintained profitability
“The training was strict. It was imperative we remained accountable and manage our time well. I accomplished these mandates and they stuck with me.”
Blake eventually grew dissatisfied with her job at the BPO and began yearning for more. During this time, she began to draft a list of medium to long term goals, one of which would see her opening of several businesses. Blake admits that she knew these aspirations were lofty and she never thought she would accomplish any of it.
“I had dreams of business ownership, but never, right now. I’ve always wanted to be a business woman, but never in that regard. I never had entrepreneurial inclinations. I just never believed that I was someone who would venture into the world of business.”
But she did.
A few weeks before the start of the new school year, she took a gamble, which was prefaced by two thousand dollars in disposable income. Blake explained that she decided to work alongside her significant other, as they both sought to build a brand – together.
“Is so funny to think that we started our business with only $2000. We bought all the cannabis supplies that would haul and invested our earnings in what would become our brand – The Steam Store.”
The Steam Store
Blake and her partner make and distribute hand crafted cannabidiol related products. The Steam Store offers most everything required for medicinal cannabis use.
Blake credits the success of her business to her strides in professionalism, prompted in-part by
her time at the BPO.
The initial success of the business encouraged Blake to invest the entirety of her severance check
from the BPO into her efforts. It was this money that was meant to herald her return to school.
Though it was a risk, she doesn’t regret it.
“My business has been blossoming!” she exclaimed.
“After we made that large investment, we’ve only seen growth. The decision to leave my job at
the call center wasn’t a hard one. Yes, I’d learned a lot of invaluable things, like experience and
life lessons, but the workplace environment began to take a toll on my mental health. So I had to
make a decision.”
Blake’s boyfriend was wholly supportive of her decision to leave, citing health as the greater
variable, but her mother had a different perspective.
“She understood why I made the decision I made, but she wasn’t pleased. She reminded me that
every job is hard (which is true). She tried to convince me to stay, but I knew what was best for
me and I had to trust in that knowledge.”
Her mother’s disapproval was also expressed by other members of her family. They wanted her
to stay on , but she was convinced that her time working a nine to five was up.
“I’m aware of the plans I have for myself and that (a nine to five) isn’t a part of that plan. Yes, I
trust the adults in my life, but I am also an adult in my life; the main adult in my life and so I
have to follow what I know is best for me.”
The support she lacked at home was supplemented by those closest to her, her friends, mentors
and most importantly she says, her lover. Her network has helped established the framework
which now guides her down the path to ultimate success.
“Outside of being my business partner and boyfriend, Tarique is my best friend. If I were to
shave away everything that appears to make me me, he would still stand as the foundation. His
mind is endless; it’s inspiring. It’s inspired me and I’m eternally grateful.”
Presently, most of the business’ earnings are reinvested in the hopes of expansion. Blake wants
to open a dispensary, which rivals those locally, regionally and internationally.
Rueyella never claimed to have an easy journey to where she now stands, but she says that
through support and a comprehensive understanding of self, she is now poised to take on the
Blake plans to return to school, however, she was not forthcoming with a timeline
“Hot gal fi have degree! There are other thing I’d like to look into personally and professionally,
so while the business is at the forefront right now, we (my boyfriend and I) can’t neglect the
other things that need to get done.”
Blake encourages all to dream big, past perceived limitations, for only then she says, can
unimaginable things be accomplished.
“A year ago, I never had these big dreams for myself, for my business, not even romantically. I
was single and a mess. Now, through experience, I’ve learned that if there is something to be
done, you ought to do it and do it properly. If you feel you can only do it halfway, still do it! You
may be surprised.”
(Rueyella Blake PHOTO: Ramon D Gordon)