Tech in Fete
There is a torrent of change that has taken over the U.S. Virgin Islands in the last few years. As population demographics shift and technology becomes more accessible to Virgin Islanders…
Technology has caught up with the consumption of playing Mas. What is playing Mas? The term ‘Mas’ is derived from the word masquerade. To ‘play mas’ essentially means to participate in celebratory masquerading during the Carnival season. The origins of carnival and mas are tied to the emancipation of slavery in the Caribbean. Over the years it has become an amalgamation of influences tied to the history of Caribbean people and their ancestors. It’s believed that the practice of playing mas was introduced to the region during colonial times when colonists were observing the Lenten season. Each island and country within the Caribbean diaspora have its own dedicated celebration throughout the year.
In the spirit of the current Carnival season and the change of technological advancement lingering thru the air, we took a moment to speak with Leon Perkins whose is making huge waves in this new industry.
1. Introduce yourself and tell me about your STEM journey and how that evolved into Everyday Carnival.
I am Everyday Carnival’s co-founder and chief executive oﬃcer, Leon Perkins. I am a graduate of the St. Croix Educational Complex and was born and raised in the Virgin Islands. In the summer of my sixth grade year, I had my first thought of being an entrepreneur. I learned the meaning of the word “entrepreneur” for the first time at that point, and ever since then, I’ve been working to improve my abilities. Years later, I would visit a Carnival outside of the Virgin Islands and experience the feeling of being a total outsider. I wish I had more knowledge about this Carnival since one would assume that as a seasoned Carnival traveler, I would have known what activities to attend, locations to see, or troupes to join. I chatted with my co-founder after this trip and shared my experiences with her. During our conversation, we discussed how Carnivals could improve their information dissemination, and Daily Carnival was formed.
2. What exactly is Everyday Carnival? And how did it come to be?
Everyday Carnival is a brand with a strong cultural foundation that works to simplify the Carnival experience while promoting the importance of emphasizing its significance.The idea for Everyday Carnival first came to me when I got confused while visiting another Carnival. I was occasionally hesitant of what events to attend or bands to play mas even though I am Caribbean. As I spoke with my co-founder Shanice Wilson, we discussed how challenging it may be for someone who is unfamiliar with the Carnival experience, and that conversation gave rise to Everyday Carnival. Our objective has always been to broaden the reach of Carnival through teaching and emphasizing its cultural significance. With that, we are working to streamline the Carnival experience for rookies and veterans.
3. What did STEM/STEAM field did you study in college?
4. Did you ever think that you would work back home in the VI? Was that your intention or a goal you always had, to bring your talent and skillset back home? If so, why was that important to you?
I’ve adored the Virgin Islands my entire life and never once wanted to live anyplace else. My lifelong ambition is to become a successful entrepreneur who inspires and enlightens the future generation to improve the business climate in the Virgin Islands.
5. Due to the pandemic, the carnival scene had to reinvent itself, scale back events and in a lot of places go completely virtual. Do you think that hurt your business or made it grow?
I believe the carnival scene has fared better after the epidemic. Carnivals had to develop alternative revenue streams and audience retention strategies during that period. The Carnival Committees were able to grow their online presence and social media fan base as a result.
Daily Carnival was at a disadvantage at the time since we had just begun to find our footing, and this forced us to reconsider our business strategy. When the covid rules were loosened, we were able to establish positive relationships with a few carnival committees and commercial groups.
6. It feels like 2022 was really the new beginning and kickstarting Carnivals globally since the pandemic. What was your experience like working at 2022-2023 Crucian Christmas Festival and so far with St.Thomas upcoming Carnival season?
It was wonderful to work the Crucian Christmas Festival. Working with diverse organizations like the Virgin Islands Consortium, the Department of Tourism, and Soundstage VI exemplifies the inclusiveness that Everyday Carnival seeks to foster. We want to build a firm that is inclusive and where everyone may prosper. We do have a few activities planned for the forthcoming Crucian Christmas Festival and St. John’s Celebration that we hope will put Everyday Carnival in the spotlight among Virgin Islands companies.
7. What do you think prepared you for this specific experience?
My military service is largely responsible for my leadership abilities and ability to run Every Day Carnival. As a member of the Virgin Islands National Guard who has held a variety of posts, I have been guided by outstanding leaders who have taught me the value of having a strong team with clear roles and duties. These qualities have accompanied me throughout my military career and in my role as CEO of Everyday Carnival.
8. Technology-wise what shift have you noticed in the carnival/festival experience?
The collection of data and extending the reach of marketing are the major technological changes in the carnival scene. Carnival committees are working to collect information to oﬀer insight on consumer spending. The notion of cost per customer is driven by this information.
9. Within the Caribbean diaspora, Carnival has morphed into big business, how do you think STEM contributed to growth in this industry and how has that been reflected in the carnival/festival product in the territory?
We have witnessed significant growth within the Carnival industry, and further growth is yet possible. The sector is profiting from data-driven marketing and social media. Companies are embracing STEM to attract a wider spectrum of participants, which benefits all parties. With the inclusive business model of Everyday Carnival, we have a chance to lead the Caribbean diaspora into the upcoming economic boom.
10. What’s your favorite thing about Festival/Carnival?
The freedom of Carnival is one of my favorite aspects of it. It’s diﬃcult to put into words the sense of having the chance to “let go” of all tension and problems while spending time with their family and friends. We take this opportunity to express our gratitude, rejoice despite any diﬃculties we may be facing, and recognize our family, friends, and culture.
11. How do you feel about your brand/business being a major component in changing the way we experience carnival here in the territory and the Caribbean diaspora?
I have a hard time falling asleep every night because I keep thinking that I could be doing more. Although I am happy that we have been given the chance to work on such significant projects, I would really like to see our initiatives become worldwide. By improving the Carnival experience for tourists without abandoning culture, we will set the standard. The next stage for Carnivals is for the world to understand that huge Carnivals are not exclusive to Trinidad. No, there are also places like Japan, Toronto, St. Lucia, the Virgin Islands, and a lot more.
12. What would you like to see next for STEM/STEAM/Tech in the VI community?
For the present and upcoming generations, I would want to see more chances in the field of coding and information technology. Coding and IT will play a significant role in our evolution as we move toward a fully digital world. In the Virgin Islands, we have the chance to become the Caribbean’s Tech hub. We may develop into the Silicon Valley or India of the Caribbean. It would be wonderful to have an oﬃce “on the beach” in this age of remote work.
13. What advice do you have for students and anyone trying to get in this very niche space?
My advice for students or anyone trying to join the tech and entrepreneur space would be the following:
- Research – we have a plethora of avenues to gain knowledge on any subject we want to venture Researching will help you understand where you can eﬀectively make a change and can speed up the process of trail and error.
- Don’t be afraid to do it alone but build with a group – Sometimes we want to do things with the people we grew up with but everybody can’t go. It would be nice to have every one of your friends on your team but sometimes meeting new people will give you a better insight.
- Just start – we tend to wait for “perfect timing” but in reality there’s never going to be a perfect time. Start small, garner your audience and build upon that. Find perfection with your tribe and they will understand your journey and you will have friends and customers for life.
14. What’s next for Everyday Carnival?
We are launching our Point of Sale (POS) services and Everyday Carnival app. We are putting the finishing touches on a multi-currency application where customers can buy tickets and redeem them in a safe and secure way. We are introducing our POS so that sellers may accept credit cards and electronic payments. We have teamed with a promoter to be the ticketing business for an upcoming weekend of activities called Shipwreck Weekend.
We are actively seeking suitable investors to assist with the advancement of our initiatives. With the support of these investors, we will be able to finish our simplified services for the Carnival experience, which will enable customers to easily reserve hotels, transportation, costumes, and other items. The growth of Everyday Carnival and the Caribbean experience will benefit from the support of these financiers.
15. We have to Where does your allegiance lie in the VI Tart Wars: Coconut, Guava, or Pineapple?
Guava, and it’s not even a debate. Coconut is dry and Pineapple is the Dasani of tarts.
16. Where can we find you?
Google Play & App Store: Everyday Carnival www.everydaycarnival.com
Facebook: Everyday Carnival Instagram: Followthefete Twitter: Followthefete