Up Close … with Daureen Bick, young entrepreneur in handicraft and stained glass art -‘I am determined to develop my small business and make it flourish’


04-June-2013

Daureen Bick … ever smiling and jollyMs Bick is a young woman with a lot of hidden artistic and creative skills which were not known to the public until recently. This was when she got the chance to display her wares in an exhibition after she joined the world of local entrepreneurship thanks to a training conducted by the Women in Action Solidarity Organisation (Waso) which she followed over a period of several months.

Single mother of two sons and a daughter, Ms Bick lives high up at Corgate Estate in one of those  low cost houses which date back to colonial times but which are gradually being replaced by modern and more decent houses built by the Housing Finance Company (HFC) which has started to relocate some inhabitants as the different phases of the project is completed.

But while she waits for her turn to be relocated and have a decent house for her family and hopefully ample space to develop her small home-based enterprise, Ms Bick has to make do with what she has - a very small corner of her verandah-cum-kitchen to carry out her trade.

It was there surrounded by empty jars, bottles, pots of paint, pieces of glass, dried flowers and other artifacts that I caught up with her recently, only a few days after she had displayed her products in an  exhibition in the grounds of the Camion Hall.

Young life story
After listening to her recounting her sad life story, peperred with some misfortunes and bad luck here and there, I was left wondering why she looks so carefree and jolly.
“But this is Daureen Bick,” she said proudly as she introduced herself, throwing back her head and  laughing.

Her personality is such and this is how she manages to overcome the many challenges which come her way, and continue to live and get through life she told me.

A former student who completed the National Youth Service (NYS) in 1989, Ms Bick has always been passionate about arts and design but it was unfortunate she did not qualify for any post-secondary training after the NYS even after her mother took her for an appeal.

“I was a bit disappointed that I was not going to continue my education,” Ms Bick recalled.
“Life was hard back then when I was growing up,” she pointed out.

Ms Bick remembers her family living like nomads, moving from place to place and without any stable or fixed dwelling.

The second of four children with the eldest a brother and disabled, two sisters and the father absent, life was more difficult and Ms Bick still remembers their hard and difficult childhood, especially when the family used to live in the caravans where the Victoria bus station now stands.

“It was not at all pleasant and my mother worked shifts at the Seychelles Hospital and she did her best to take care of us. There was a time when other relatives wanted to help by taking me to live with them and during those times children had no choice as is the case today,” Ms Bick mused.

Career development and work prospects
A young girl with no skills and no work experience, Ms Bick was prepared to take any job that came her way just to earn some money for herself and to help her family.
“I had to do something as I needed money for myself and to help my family, so I joined the FES (Full Employment Scheme) and I started work as a cleaner,” she said.

But she soon found herself changing her job as a cleaner to become an ancillary teacher at Mont Fleuri school in her quest to find the job she likes. But this was not to be the case yet because she continued to change jobs, moving on to take a position at a warehouse where she had started to learn to do stock- taking, something which she was beginning to enjoy when she had to stop as she became pregnant with her first child.

When her daughter was two years old, Ms Bick returned to work in the hotel industry, this time as a waitress and barmaid.

“I learned to do both on the job and as I wanted to do my work well, I was eager to learn as much as I could so that I could satisfy the customers,” she said.

After a year there, the establishment closed down and Ms Bick stopped working and sometime after that got pregnant with her second child.

Living at Bel Ombre during those times, she took a post as a carer for an old lady living in her neigbourhood. After sometime she moved on to work in a take-away but this again was not for long as she soon found herself back in the tourism industry as a waitress at the Fisherman’s Cove and there again she did not stay long.

“Having to juggle caring for small children and working in a hotel can be very difficult if you do not have support,” Ms Bick said.
She soon found herself working as a carer once again and after a few years she got pregnant with her third child. After spending some eight years living at Bel Ombre in a cousin’s house, she moved back to Corgate Estate after her mother had moved to her new house at La Gogue. And there she still lives some nine years later and working as a carer. But before that she worked for some time at Seven Degrees South, a destination management company.

“I really enjoyed my time working there where, starting as a cleaner, I had some great opportunities to develop. I moved to become a receptionist and then I tried my hands at filing and data entry among other things but then I started developing some medical problems which compelled me to opt for something less hectic,” she recounted.

After almost two years working as a housemaid, Ms Bick had to stop working completely in 2010 on medical grounds. Her health condition gets worst if she stands, sits and walks a lot. She needs to shift and change her posture every so often and she needs a lot of rest. She was referred to the social services for invalidity benefits.

The stained glass project

Ms Bick in her element


To add to her delicate medical woes, Ms Bick has to support her unemployed young daughter who has a terminally ill one-year-old baby.
“You see, my life is not as rosy and cheerful as I look,” she said.

“Once they know me, people wonder why I keep smiling with all the problems I have. But I have to keep on smiling and try and be happy for the sake of myself and everybody,” she pondered.

To supplement the meagre assistance she is receiving, Ms Bick uses her talents to produce handicraft like dried wild flowers, stained glass art, jewelry, photo frames and fashion accessories like beaded necklaces. But there again these are in small quantities as she does not have large amounts of raw material as these need to be bought.
She said she makes everything mostly on request from friends and word of mouth has attracted more customers to her.

Ms Bick likes to experiment with different things; when a necklace broke, she’ll gather the small beads and thread them in her own way and once her neighbours and friends noticed how  beautiful and fashionable her necklaces were, they brought their own unthreaded beads for her to thread in her own fashionable way and everyone who saw adored her skills.
As a result, she gets a lot of raw material from people who know her. They also supply her with a lot of empty jars and bottles of different sizes. But until the stained glass training, Ms Bick did only the necklaces and other handicraft.

When she was invited to attend a meeting in the Mont Fleuri district administration by consultant and trainer Giovanna Neves and hosted by Waso to train small entrepreneurs and guide them through so they can start and develop their own small business at home, Ms Bick saw a great opportunity.

“There was a variety of activities to choose to receive training in and glass painting and pastry making really interested me,” she said.

“I was really eager to know glass painting but at the same time I am learning pastry as well and I believe there is really a lot to learn and gain from the two,” Ms Bick told me.
But the only problem now will be obtaining the type of paint and liner which she needs for her paintings and artistic glass designs.

“The paint and liner are both very expensive and for the time being I am still using from the small stock that Ms Neves left me,” she said.
She pointed out that otherwise she will have to seek help to order from abroad.

The future …
So far she has taken part in the youth festival and this year’s carnival and is full of hope.
Ms Bick admits that the small venture has the potential to grow and develop into something great and wonderful but a lot of challenges need to be overcome first.

“Small and new in the field as I am I do not have the money to rent a stall to showcase my products at the different event but I am grateful for the help I am receiving from Waso in that regard. But I wish I could be able to develop further and have a place to display my wares,” she said.

The fact that she is using a lot of raw materials found all around and provided by friends and clients can also bring their ornaments to be decorated, Ms Bick’s greatest challenge is finding a place of her own with the right and conducive environment for her to work, to store her raw materials, including a fridge for her paint and a place to display and sell her finished products.
“I really need a little showroom and ample space of my own,” she said.

At present Ms Bick has a lot of finished products stacked on top of each other just waiting to be seen, enjoyed, bought and appreciated by the public.
But until her social situation improves and she gets the place she is looking for, many of Ms Bick’s skillfully made products will remain her undiscovered secrets…  

By Marie-Anne Lepathy

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