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Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Business of Mas

It often surprises me to read negative comments directed to owners of Carnival bands who, by other’s estimation, are now flaunting their wealth gained by their profits from producing said Carnival Band. Listen, it is time to realise that Carnival is a business, hence the reason we have so many Mas Bands with a product for 2007 and even more trying to get into the market.Like any other business if you are a success at what you do then you will in turn benefit from a high volume of sales for your goods or services, but that success does not come without it’s own share or struggles, challenges and pitfalls. No one remembers you on your way up, but when you have reached the top suddenly everyone finds a reason to try and pull you down as if you have not earned the right to be there by merit.

Producing a Carnival Band is not an easy venture; producing a Carnival Band that consistently delivers a good product, stellar service where most of your clientele are not only satisfied, but become repeat customers as well as always bringing new ideas to the table to keep your product “fresh”, and customers satisfied is a very difficult job indeed!Thus, if the profits from Carnival can allow the owners and persons involved in the popular Mas Bands to quit their day jobs, why should that be a bother to you, the masquerader? Carnival is their business and when you are the owner of your own business it becomes a 24 hour job; and in order to make the business a success you have to devote 100 % of your time and energy into it.

So, it should come as no surprise that if they can afford to live on their Carnival earnings that they would no longer be employed in any other field. Do you think that producing a Carnival Band is not a real “job”? It is a real job, and one without pension benefits or guaranteed longevity. How many popular Mas Bands have come and gone over the years? Where are Barbarossa, Poison, Stephen Le Heung and Scandalus, among others, today? The money these bands make do not last forever, and thus what they make now has to support them in the future when and if the band no longer becomes a viable business. One of the most successful Mas Bands to date, is HARTS who has survived throughout generations being in the business for 47 years! Not every Carnival Band will be able to have this accomplishment.

And so what if after Carnival, the parties involved with certain Bands bought a new home, or a new car or even new breasts? Does Donald Trump not live in a gold gilded, penthouse apartment and threw a million dollar wedding to wife number three? Do all the people he sold real estate to get upset that they made him rich? Comments like these reflect the envy of persons towards others success and to that I say, if it bothers you so much, that after Carnival these Band owners are making a pile of money you have the power never to play with them again! If you think that their motivation is now greed and that is the reason why some costume prices have gone up by almost 100% in two years, no one is forcing you to play with any one band; there are bands that suit every age group, social standing, taste as well as budget!

I for one applaud people who are self made millionaires; contrary to what your parents told you when growing up, going to school, getting your degree and finding a good job does not always make you rich. So, those who have the guts to keep that goal in mind, work towards it and achieve it should be commended. Where were all the naysayers and critics when TRIBE and Island People started off in Poison with just a small section? Think about how much hard work, skill, foresight, planning and money, of their own they had to invest into these sections when they were fledgling to make it grow and become the entities that they are now.

I remember when Tisha, Marlon and Wyatt brought their first section in what was then Barbarossa, and saw them making costumes by hand, in that tiny mas camp in St. James, hustling to finish the job in time so that their masqueraders would be happy. Do you know how many years ago that was? Sandra Hordatt, who is also, now with Island People, was the costume designer. Seeing them now involved with Island People you would think they are newcomers on the scene, but they have already paid their dues over the years, more than you or I would ever know.

So when you see persons enjoying the fruits of their sacrifices and hard work years later don’t be resentful; I am sure that success did not come without a price. Ask yourself if you are able to do what they have done? If so then go ahead and bring a new band for 2008, then come back and tell me how easy it was! It is effortless for us on the outside looking in to give our opinions on how THEY should spend their money, or comment on the fact that so-and-so went to Germany for World Cup (by the way I know several people who went to Germany who are not even close to being millionaires). How do YOU think they should enjoy their achievement, what can they do to please YOU so that it would not irk YOU to see YOUR costume dollars at work giving them a better living?

At the end of the day, nothing these Band leaders do will please everyone. How many people participated in the Christmas charity drive put on by TRIBE last year? Do you even know they asked masqueraders to join them in providing toys to children for Christmas? Look, I don’t care that these people are good at their business and as a result are now rich; if I have helped them to become so it is only because of my choice. I have also helped many, many, many, many, many business owners in Trinidad become rich as well and you know what I do not begrudge them that!

They provide a service or product that I am willing to pay for, and at the end of the day if I wanted that to be me, I would get my ass up from behind this computer, take a risk, go out there, do what needs to be done, put in the hard work and sacrifices to achieve my goal for however long it takes, all the while hoping that my effort becomes a reward to me, seeing as so many new businesses do fail. But the fact that I am not doing that means that either I am content with the station of my life right now or I am scared to take that step. And, I cannot be envious of anyone who has been brave enough to do that, like I said before I applaud their courage and let them enjoy the spoils of that victory, they have earned it!

Pulse 8's Melon Fever is no more!

I was checking Pulse 8's website last night and realised that upon clicking the "Melon Fever" costume photo, another window opened with a message saying the section is no longer available.

The offical word is that the materials used in the costume are not accessible anymore so the section had to be closed. All other sections are still open!
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