Born: Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies
Age: In Trinidad, it’s a superstition to tell your age, even when you are young. My oldest grandchild is 9.
Primary language: English, patois (a regional dialect in Trinidad, influenced by French and other languages).
Work: Owner of A Thyme For All Seasonings, a shop at 1731 Central Ave. that sells spices, oils and other items.
Education: MBA in Marketing from Indiana University.
Family: Husband, Gilbert; daughter, Khai Jones; son, Ferryn Palmer; three grandchildren, Nyla Palmer, 9, Jaylen Jones, 8, and Naavi Jones 3.
Hobbies: I volunteer my time. I’m on the diversity board for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. I’m part of Granny Connection (a local group that provides support, advocacy and funding to grandmothers in Africa who are raising children orphaned by AIDS). We are one of the local families in the just-established African-American Fund that supports cultural and financial initiatives pertaining to the minority population in Columbus.
● Why and when did you come to the U.S.?
We came in 1969 because my father, Arthur Joseph, was recruited by Con-Edison in New York. They had recruited him for years, but he took them up because my brother and sister were getting ready to enter the workforce. Trinidad was going through a recession, so he came to give them more opportunities.
● How and when did you come to live in Columbus?
We came here in 1981 when my husband, who is from New York, took a job at Cummins. We came here primarily for our children because we are family-oriented, and we didn’t want to raise them in a big city.
● Tell us about your business.
The store has been in business since 2012. All natural premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars have become a big part of our business. We actually grow our own produce for the hot sauces and herbal marinades and those things. Even though my daughter said I’m more American than Caribbean, these are the seasonings that my parents made, so we use those recipes. We live on 14 acres just outside of town, and we have a garden where everything is grown organically. The majority of the spice blends are done by us, and we don’t use preservatives or fillers. The nice thing is, if someone wants a custom blend, we can do that. We have also gotten into products like aroma therapy pillows, all natural oils and lotions, and we can custom blend them as well.
● What do you like best about your job?
I like the creativity and the autonomy of owning my own business. I love the holistic, all-natural environment because there is a movement toward that in this country, and I love being a part of it.
● What were some of your first impressions of the U.S.?
I thought it was the land of gold and honey. I had heard all of these fantastic things, and I was what you would call a country bumpkin, so I found it overwhelming, but in a good way. To this day, I remember all of the songs that were playing on my ride from the airport to my new home; and when I hear them now, it brings back all of those memories.
● What were some of the most difficult things to adjust to?
It was very difficult for me because I thought that the kids were fast. I came when I was 10 years old, and they had boyfriends and girlfriends, and I was still playing with dolls. The school system was very different because you all do things by age instead of intellect, and I was very advanced. So the first year I was here, they had to move me twice because the work was so easy for me.
● How have people reacted to you in Columbus?
It has become a very diverse community, but it wasn’t always that way. We felt very welcome because we have always been very active in the community. I ran the hot meals program at Calvary Pentecostal Church. I was a community liaison at Human Services. And I just threw myself into the community, and people responded positively.
● What do you miss most about your home country?
The heat and the fresh tropical fruits. I love fruit, and I really miss the tropics.
● You have been in this country for a long time. How do you stay connected to your home culture?
We were always very conscious of the fact that we were in a community that is predominantly white, so we would send my son to New York, and they would take him to Trinidad. When my daughter came along, we did the same thing. It wasn’t easy, but we sacrificed so they could have that cultural connection, both with Gil’s family and my family. We took the whole family and went back for Carnival two years ago, and it was a fabulous time because I still have a lot of family there. I took the grandkids about five days before everyone else came, so I could take them around to spend time with family.
● What advice do you have for people coming to Columbus?
Get involved because that’s how you are going to meet people. Some people think Columbus is closed to outsiders; and if people expect the community to come to them, it doesn’t happen that way here. You have to get involved, and they will embrace you 150 percent.
● What is your favorite place to visit and why?
We have a condo in Cape Coral, Fla., and we love it there. It’s warm, and it’s just far enough south where it’s tropical; and it has the mango trees and the guava trees that I remember from Trinidad.