El Marton: Style doesn't spoil

Business reporter

Friday, November 17, 2017

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When Everton McNaughton sat in his living room in Port Antonio and made his first item out of goat's skin over 17 years ago, he had absolutely no idea how far a bit of creativity and perseverance would take him — right into the being a successful entrepreneur.

El Marton is now a fairly well-known leather goods designer often seen making its rounds on Instagram @elmartondesign, and with its popular hashtag “#realsandalsdontstrip”, a jeer at its competition. “We design and make leather products such as sandals, bags, belts, etc.”

Unemployed in 2000, Everton decided to get creative after his phone case got destroyed.

“I was unemployed and wanted to do something with myself. I'm a very creative person with my hands. I had a phone case and it mash up so I decided to make one, but by doing so I get a lot of compliments.”

Then the orders started to come in.

“So I continued to make phone cases and move on to making bags, then belts, then sandals,” he stated.

From then business took off.

Now El Marton is doing well, and McNaughton has expanded and set up shop in Kingston, and ships his slippers to countries all over the world.

“We have two locations in Jamaica: one at 30 Red Hills Road, Kingston 10, and the other at Prospect Beach, Folly Road, Port Antonio. We ship free in Jamaica, USA, Canada and the Cayman Islands.”

He even offers after-sales service — a free tightening if your sandals get loose.

Though he started out alone, his wife Rockylee Coulson McNaughton has joined the team and his brother also assists when the workload is heavier than usual.

For him, his brand is special because of his “creativity”

“It's different because of my logo, my style [and] the creativity behind it make my brand stand out!”

McNaughton will only share that business is “blooming”.

He expressed that business can be at times difficult for entrepreneurs in Jamaica. However, he continues to push forward.

“The continued journey for me is hard work. There was no tools at one point, but I know what I had wanted so I keep pushing. It's better now; we have most of the important tools that we need.”

One continued challenge for him is the high importation costs. “The challenge that we face is to bring in raw materials in the country, but we're overcoming little by little. Customs wants too much to bring in raw materials.”

In one instance, he had to unfortunately leave his goods behind… “There was one point where we ordered some leather from overseas and shipped through the wharf. We spent about US$1500 to buy everything. Shipping not included. But when we went to the wharf we were asked to pay almost the same amount that we buy the raw materials for. We had to leave it and go back.

“It's not fair for young entrepreneurs who trying to build their business and their country. So situations like that will make you want to give up,” he expounded.

However, he has continued enjoying the highs and the rewards this journey has brought him so far. One such high was receiving a trophy as a nominee in the NCB Young Entrepreneurs Nation Builders Award in 2016.

“I didn't win it. I [only] get a trophy for nominee. But to me it's like I win still because, where I'm coming from to where I am now, to be a nominee for the Young Entrepreneur Nation Builders Award, I was so elated.”

McNaughton is grateful for his journey so far, and for the help and support he has received along the way, especially from his family and loyal customers. The sky is the limit for him and his vision for his company is to see a pair of his slippers in every household.




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