Nov 18, 2009

A Conch is Calling

Cosmic Monster, by Maya Papovic

A few blogs back, we told you we were working on our business - Conch Creative. If you have been following this blog, you know we've accomplished so much since we've been in Belize. Aside from learning to live in a completely different country, overcome the inevitable culture shock, building a house, acquiring two more dogs and collecting a weird and wonderful bunch of new friends - we've spent a lot of time trying to find a niche.

We've bored our friends with our endless ideas and spent a considerable amount of time and effort on one or two projects that just weren't meant to be. We both wanted to reinvent ourselves and find a way that we could work together. Anyone who lives in Belize or even who visits regularly knows that Belize has a peculiar way of teaching you new things about yourself and the way that you live your life.

We knew we wanted to do something creative and we had to do something we were good at. The most important ingredient of course is that we had to do something that would work in Belize. Neither of us is particularly business minded but we do work hard and when we get passionate about something, we go for it 100%.

This is how Conch Creative came into being. It all started when we did a few logos for people, helped out with designing posters and did some photography. Colette had been doing some work in PR and had gained experience in that field, while Maya had spent much of her youth as a photographer, even having her own dark room, colouring and enhancing film by hand long before anyone had ever heard of digital photography or photoshop. Maya's career took her into videography but she has always been creative, recently demonstrating that she is a fantastic artist as you can see by the opening photo on this blog of one of her paintings.

Of course we need to make a living but as everyone knows, we've always been hugely commited to not for profit work and support the local humane society, SAGA. So, we produced a calendar for Friends of the Humane Society, containing black and white glossy photographs of people in San Pedro and their pets. These weren't traditional portraits. They were sexy and stylish and it is a project we were very proud to be involved in. So far, we have been told it has raised almost $4000 usd. If you want one for Christmas, let us know and we'll find a way to get one to you. They are only $10usd plus shipping and they really are a cool and unique present. We did not charge to produce this calendar, so the only costs were the printing. All profits to to Friends of the Humane Society, which is currently raising money to build a much needed isolation unit. You can read all about the calendar launch at Lime Bar & Grill here, here and here where you'll see write ups and some great pictures of all the fun. It was a huge event and very successful. Almost all of the calendar models attended the launch to sign their pictures along with Mayor Elsa Paz and Miss World Belize, Letty Lara.

Colette - Miss August, Friends of the Humane Society Calendar 2010

David - Mr. September, Friends of the Humane Society Calendar 2010

Friends of the Humane Society Calendar 2010 - Models

After all the enjoyment we had making the calendar we really had to get our nose to the grind stone and think about how we are going to earn a living so that we can continue our love affair with Belize. We have been working on our portfolio and our website is almost ready to go live. Maya does most of the photography, although Colette is learning and has produced some pretty nice pictures herself. We work together on our concepts and planning the shoot and between us we tweak the photographs until we are perfectly happy to label them with our Conch Creative logo.

Baby in Bowl - Conch Creative

Natalia - Conch Creative

Independent Feathers - Conch Creative

In Your Hands-


Now that the business is just starting to get off the ground, we are learning about how supportive our community truly is, with everyone helping us out with advice, practical help and referrals. We are very excited about this business and both enjoy the work so much. It is just another confirmation to us that we made the right decision when we moved to Belize and while we miss the wonderful friends we left behind, we don't miss the lifestyle at all.

Of course, in the midst of all this, as if it weren't enough, Colette has been working hard on her humane education programme, Be Kind Belize, which seems to have taken on a life of its own. Recently, she featured on the Belizean national breakfast TV show called Open Your Eyes, where she got the opportunity to talk about the link bewteen cruelty to animals and human violence. She was also invited to speak to a group of students at Belize University on the same subject, which she found extremely inspiring. Several new volunteers have come on board and it is likely that Be Kind Belize will be finding its ways into schools all over the country in the new year.

Colette with William Neal and Marleni Cuellar on Open Your Eyes Chan. 5

While over in Belize to film the TV show, she was invited to participate in a great event being held by Lifeline, a charity established by Kim Simpliss Barrow, the Prime Minister's wife, to provide financial assistance to children's projects across Belize. This particular event, called Magic Brushes, involved a group of women who were cruise ship tourists. Instead of doing the normal tourist activities when they visited Belize, they decided to do something for the community. So a group of them turned up at our hospital, Karl Huesner, to help brighten up the paediatric ward by painting murals on the walls. You can read about it here. Colette, with her friends Denise from San Pedro and Caroline, one of the Directors of Lifeline, spent the day with a bunch of other amazing people brightening up the days of a bunch of sick children and hosting a fabulous group of women who were hugely generous with their time and spirit and had a great experience in Belize.

Caroline, Denise and Colette do Sponge Bob at Karl Huesner Hospital

Poor Patrick - Colette Kase

Most people think that tourists are relatively hedonistic, but Belize must do something to people because we are constantly stunned by the thoughtful of visitors who come to Belize. So many people bring gifts for the schools, humane societies, health clinics and other good causes. Be Kind Belize has several wonderful benefactors from around the world, who bring prizes for the children when they visit and help to support the programme. Philanthropic tourism is definitely a good thing and we would urge everyone who is traveling to countries that are not as wealthy as your own to find out in advance how you can help. A few dollars or pounds and a little effort by you before you arrive at your destination can often make a huge difference to non profit groups in your host country. Things you can do include bringing school supplies, medical and veterinary products, clothing and books.

Watch this space as we are very close to announcing the launch of the Conch Creative website, which is when we'll truly be up and running. We're so thrilled we might just explode.