At the tender age of 27, Toni Thorne has an impressive list of accomplishments under her belt. Her confidence coupled with an insane work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, has led her to become a well-known figure in Barbados’ cultural and creative industries. With degrees in Economics, Accounting and Law, Toni has switched gears “succumbing to her desire to spread Barbadian culture”. I first discovered Toni on the wonderful world of social media and I was instantly intrigued by her beautiful smile, amazing fashion sense and most importantly positive spirit.
Everything about Toni embodies Caribbean woman. She’s a philanthropist, a successful woman entrepreneur, humble, intelligent and a beautiful woman both inside and out, Toni Thorne is this week’s inspiring Island Muse Spotlight.
If you had to describe Toni Thorne in three words what would it be?
An ambitious fighter. I say that because a lot of the opportunities I’ve gotten I’ve had to fight for. I constantly seek out new opportunities for myself and I hate the word NO. If I see something I want, you better believe I’m going to get it. I’d also describe myself as a self-starter, I don’t envy others and most importantly I don’t live with regret. When a project or opportunity that I’ve hoped for doesn’t work out, I assess it, learn from it and move on. I truly believe when one door closes another opens, so for me it’s always a win-win situation.
Your biography states that you were previously employed in the oil and energy sector, however you are now “succumbing to your desire to spread Barbadian culture”. What fuels this desire?
From early on my parents strongly encouraged me to pursue my artistic talents. Whether it was dance or visual arts I had the opportunity to explore different disciplines. In terms of succumbing to my desire to spread Barbadian culture, I’m very much about taking our culture to the next level. Barbados-actually the Caribbean as a whole, needs to reassess and expand its growth model to include valuable exports such as our culture and our music. Being able to contribute to the arts and cultural scene of Barbados, that is what ultimately fuels me. I’m very passionate about creativity and innovation particularly as it relates to the Caribbean.
You have an impressive collection of accomplishments which includes a plethora of successful start-ups. Tell me about some of the amazing projects you’ve worked on and are currently working on.
In 2009 I founded Martha’s Smile, a Jamaican charity programme catering to HIV infected children by paying for their music and dance lessons. I’ve had the opportunity to represent Barbados in various aspects of our culture – from fashion to dance. I’m the creative director for Island Fusion Foreday Morning Band, a prominent stakeholder in Barbados’ annual Crop Over Festival. I’ve partnered with the Ministry of Tourism and the National Cultural Foundation here in Barbados to help produce various heritage-based carnival showcases. My latest and most current project is my role as publisher of Pompasette Magazine, a magazine available nationwide. I’m also in the midst of filming episodes for my television show which will be launching this month. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of local brands and government agencies in Barbados. Through it all, innovation and creativity remain at the forefront of all my projects.
In your opinion, what’s the biggest issue affecting Caribbean women in 2015?
As Caribbean women, I think we underscore ourselves too much. My experience thus far has taught me that women have the same capabilities as our male counterparts to be successful. Right here in Barbados, statistics show that women outnumber men in terms of graduation rates, however when you look at who’s occupying the most senior roles of companies it’s still predominantly male. Not just Caribbean women, but women in general, should know that we are just as capable as our male counterparts.
On that note what are your words of wisdom for Caribbean women?
Live your life as if each day were your last. You’ve only got one shot to create the life you’ve always dreamed of. Never be afraid to take risks and always be open to new opportunities. If I hadn’t believed in myself and taken risks Pompasette or the Toni Thorne Show wouldn’t be here today. I have no formal graphic design, journalism or marketing experience, I simply made up my mind and decided to go for it. My mantra is say yes and figure it out after.
Favourite Bajan proverb and its meaning:
Wow! Good question, too many to choose from. So I’ll give you my favourite Bajan word called Pompasette. It means to show off, to be confident, to do you. It’s also the name of my magazine.
Biggest lesson learned on your journey so far:
Sometimes my biggest challenge is understanding the sacrifices that must be made when pursuing your dreams. Old habits, ways of thinking, friends, your 9-5 these things will all be undoubtedly impacted. Big dreams don’t come true without hard work and big sacrifices along the way. As they say the bigger the dream the bigger the sacrifice.
What’s next for Toni Thorne? I know you’re working on some new and exciting projects!
I’m super excited about my upcoming television show launching March 10th. It will be shown locally in Barbados and across the region. For those living abroad you will also be able to view it online. The trailer for my show can be viewed here. I’ve also been offered the Miss Barbados World franchise and of course I will continue to push Pompasette magazine to new heights. As usual, in everything we do my team and I will be innovators. Overall I’m happy, I’m vibrant and I can finally say everything is in balance.