Caribshopper brings over 7000 Caribbean products to the diaspora –

At the core of every successful startup is a problem to be solved. Companies are assembled to address problems, and every decision is made to efficiently target them. The most prominent start-ups address an issue that is so intrinsic to our lives we take it for granted as a way of life.
For Jamaican-American Kadion Preston, his Miami-based company, Caribshopper, is an all-in-one solution to an issue millions of Caribbean immigrants in North America face… Being in a foreign land, how does one access the food and culture one grew up with?
Today, Caribshopper has grown to be the largest online marketplace for authentic Caribbean-made products. It’s an easy-to-use service, offering local favorites from Trinidad and Jamaica, that ships to just about anywhere in the United States and Canada. Ludo boards, local snacks, body oil, and just about anything a Caribbean immigrant would want in a care package, can be ordered from the site.
It’s a remarkable service that makes use of Preston’s experienced background in computer science. A graduate of Hunter College, he interned at Yahoo Inc. during the dotcom bubble, when the internet company was at the height of its powers. He would go on to work on the backend systems for Hudson Capita, and later started an IT company alongside his brother, called Sonicloop Networks.
He remained the chief technology officer of Sonicloop before selling the company and searching for a new challenge. While this experience endowed Preston with the skills to spearhead Caribshopper, he’s quick to assert that he’d be nowhere without his mother.
“My mother was an entrepreneur,” Preston says. “She didn’t finish high school. She came from deep country in Hanover, Lucea.” As Preston tells it, Majorie Preston started out doing simple arbitrage. She would travel abroad and stock up on supplies. “She was out all day showing samples, lugging suitcases into these big stores.” He’s unable to hide the pride in his voice whenever he talks about his mother. She partnered with OshKosh B’gosh, the children’s apparel company, and became the official Jamaican distributor out of her clothing store Chuckie Kids.
Despite the success, Majorie Preston always kept the struggling mother in perspective. “She realized that some of the young mothers coming into the store daydreaming about the birth of their child and wanted to buy something nice. But, they couldn’t afford the clothes, because we were importing them from an international partner,” her son recalls. 
Marjorie, spotting another gap to fill, took matters into her own hands. After trips to Panama and Curacao to source textiles, she hired a team of Jamaican seamstresses to create cheaper versions of the latest styles; and that’s when the Chuckie Kids clothes brand was born. It promised good quality, affordable, and stylish clothes for newborns to toddlers, without breaking the bank.
Preston had a front-row seat to his mother’s drive and success. It was impossible for it to not rub off on him, he says. He watched her expand the business to Montego Bay and then internationally to the Cayman Islands. Her example set a young Preston on the path he is on today. He never considered any alternatives.
The parallels between mother and son are obvious. Caribshopper was born out of that same need to address a phenomenon that immigrants just like Preston and his family were struggling with. Neither Preston nor his team was in the manufacturing business, so they had to seek out partners and convince them that this was a worthwhile opportunity. In 2019, the Caribshopper embarked on a requirements engineering trip, talking to prospective partners to nail down what they needed to be. “It was about us listening and understanding their challenges,” Preston explains. “Once we got a clear understanding of that, we knew what we wanted to build and how we had to build it.”
In 2020, the pandemic happened. Preston freely admits that the travel restrictions and limited freedom of movement made their pitch to manufacturers even more compelling. “Merchants didn’t have much of an option – stores were closed, and online commerce was at its height,” he shares. That being said he believes merchants were ultimately drawn to Caribshopper’s mission of connecting the diaspora with their home countries. 
Caribshopper launched in 2021 with 200 merchants representing 1500 unique products. Today, that number has more than tripled. There are 782 merchants representing 7000 unique products. Getting on the platform as a merchant is remarkably streamlined. You fill out an application, and one of Caribshopper’s success team members connects with you and schedules an onboarding session. The service is extremely hands-on, dedicated to getting even the most entrenched manufacturer on the service. Everything from photography to search engine optimization is done by the team.
“Your culture is what defines you,” Preston reasons. It’s a mantra he lives by. When he looks at his children he knows Caribshopper needs to exist. “One thing that every Caribbean person has is a level of pride in who they are and where they’re from,” he continues. “Diaspora kids adopt the Caribbean culture, but they really don’t know it and it’s your job as a parent to teach them it.” 
In many ways, Preston is his own best customer. He uses his service to bring the flavors of the experience of the Caribbean to his own children. “These things are important to me,” he says. “To me, culture is how we transfer legacy.”
CNW Network is South Florida’s number one Caribbean news network that comprises of, National Weekly newspaper and CNW TV. Embedded in the community for over 20 years, we have established ourselves as Florida’s primary access to the Caribbean community.
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