You may be surprised to know that some of the biggest advertising campaigns we see today on billboards while we drive along the streets of Jamaica, are from the creative brain of a 25-year-old CEO.
Valon Thorpe, CEO and managing director of Mystique Integrated, credits the success of his social media and emarketing campaigns to the collaborative efforts from the team members in his boutique agency, which specialises in public relations, digital marketing and event execution.
The three-year-old company began with two employees in a 10x10 space and one client. Thorpe tells Outlook, "The aim was to provide corporate Jamaica with groundbreaking and novel approaches to marketing in a fast-growing digital age." They pride themselves as being innovative game changers in the industry, trusted for their reliability and consistency.
Born and raised in Portmore, St Catherine, Thorpe is a self-proclaimed overachiever who began his academic studies at Stella Maris Preparatory.
During his secondary education, he was consistently placed on the honour society 'Sigma Gamma Kappa' at St George's College, and was later a graduate of the University of The West Indies with a bachelor's degree in geography. When asked how he tapped into his creativity and how he knew he had a knack for marketing, he thinks back and attributes it to his love for reading. He said he prefers fiction over non-fiction because it develops his creativity, "I like the idea of painting a picture on a blank canvas," and credits his mother for developing and nurturing his love for books.
Thorpe credits his fast-tracked career to his relentless work ethic which he modelled from watching his parents work hard. His father, Floyd is a truck driver, and his mother, Sharon, an English teacher for more than 30 years at Immaculate Conception High School.
His father met his mother as a passenger on one of his many routes to country and they were married soon after. "I don't remember being in need as a child," he discloses adding that, "we were never rich as my parents were in the service industry, but I never heard them complain. I have seen them live humble and modest lives, and they have taught me to do the same."
Thorpe is also known for his sense of style. He admits that throughout high school his head was in the books, and he didn't care much for style. However, when he began university he wanted to reinvent himself and did this through his personal style. Like he approaches everything in his life, he approached style studiously and learnt from international style icons through books. Revered as the ultimate sartorial and etiquette guide, 'How to be a man' from the life and style guru Glenn O'Brien is his all-time reference for style.
"Spokes Apparel did my first suit for a James Bond premier about four years ago, and I recently wore the same suit to Kaci Fennel's wedding. I carry myself in a certain way through my personal style, and I believe it gets me in the doors of major companies, allows clients to take me seriously even though I am very young. After getting in the doors, I know it is up to me to wow them with my work and exceed all expectations, which we always do at Mystique Integrated."
Five style essentials:
1- Fresh hair cut
2- Good personal hygiene (white teeth)
3- Signature cologne - Patchouli Absolu by Tom Ford
4- Quality jeans - Hollister or Levi's
5- Comfortable shoes - Toms and sneakers
'This is how you lose her': Junot Diaz
Never explain, don't complain.
Best advice for a new start up company:
Deliver on time, deliver the best, no matter how small the project. Understand your limits, and build a team where everyone supports each other, where it is never any one person's fault.
I have regular retreats with my team and it allows us to bond and, as a result, perform better.
We are sure to get a lot more from this young CEO as he says he hopes to empower creative talent in Jamaica, as they are sometimes overlooked.
The next time you see a billboard while driving don't be surprised to know that Valon Thorpe probably had something to do with it. One can only imagine the joy and pride this gives his father while he drives his trucks along the roadways across the depth and width of the island.