Puzzles are manufactured in The Bahamas
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Antoine Thompson is looking to put together the pieces of a fractured cultural sector with his latest creative endeavor.
The Bahamian entrepreneur and cultural ambassador recently re-launched his flagship product, Junkanoo-themed jigsaw puzzles.
The patriotic puzzles, which portray some of the most vivid snapshots of Junkanoo, are now available for purchase on Amazon.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Thompson reflected upon his time as an avid Junkanoo participant and how his affinity for the festival later piqued his interest in producing cultural puzzles.
“What really got me into it, I used to run with the Valley Boys, since 1995, ” said the 44-year-old.
“Just being out there and being a part of the festival, you get to feel the energy, the excitement and the passion – not just from the participants, but also from the crowd, especially the tourists.
He continued: “Junkanoo is so original and so, – it’s nothing like -, Carnival is one thing but Junkanoo is another thing and I felt that it had such a mystique to it.
“I was like: ‘What else can we do with this parade that has all this color and sound and action in one picture?’”
“What can we do to market it other than just saying that it’s the number one festival in the world, you need to come down here and see it?”
Thompson further noted that a close friend also pointed out that the country was void of any cultural toys for Bahamian children to play with.
“A friend of mine, who is an art teacher, she also used to be like: ‘Kids in the Bahamas don’t have their own cultural toy to play with”.
Thompson said that their conversations inspired him to pursue a cultural puzzle project, recognizing that the traditional toy has stood the test of time”.
“We live in a time where everyone has smartphones or play stations, yet you still find people doing jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and sudoku, which tells me that this has stood the test of time”.
“So I went on YouTube and I googled and I saw some videos on just how to make a basic puzzle, what machine to buy, how you go about taking pictures and putting it on cardboard,” said the puzzle manufacturer.
Putting the pieces together
Thompson would go on to invest in a jigsaw puzzle machine and procure a business license to jumpstart his entrepreneurial venture.
In December 2014, he created his first puzzle using an image that he captured at that year’s Junkanoo festival.
Thompson’s puzzles would prove to be a game-changer, garnering praise from the Ministry of Tourism for being innovative.
He recalled: “Once I created my first junkanoo puzzle, I went to the Ministry of Tourism”.
“They have a section that deals with Bahamian artisans that make Bahamian crafts right here in The Bahamas, and they saw the junkanoo puzzle and they were like: “Man, this is something different. We’ve never seen anything like this before”.
“They used to have a display on Bay Street where they would allow Bahamian artisans to display their work, and I would go out there with the puzzles and tourists would buy them.”
Thompson, after seeing how the tourists responded favorably to the puzzles, he planned to launch them on Amazon.
It took him two years to acquire a seller’s permit with the online retailer.
He says that despite the cumbersome process, he feels accomplished to have his puzzles live on the website.
“It felt so good to say: ‘Man, I’m on Amazon”
“As a Bahamian, when you do something like that, you feel like a celebrity. You feel like you’ve reached that level when you’re competing with the big business corporations who have stuff on Amazon.
“Even though it took me almost two years, I felt so accomplished.”
Thompson told Eyewitness News that he plans to expand his business’ reach, revealing that he’s working towards getting the puzzles in US retail giants, Walmart and Target.
Antoine Thompson’s junkanoo puzzles can be found on Amazon, and customized puzzles can also be requested on his official website: https://jigsawbahamas.com