TimeSquared: Double the Convenience
Running errands can be the bane of your existence. Standing in line at the bank, waiting to pay your phone bill, collecting clothes from the drycleaners, filing your taxes, and purchasing mundane items like toiletries and groceries – these are things we wish someone would do for us.
Thing is, if you can hardly get things done for yourself, how do you manage to run errands for other people too, and run your own business? This is exactly what close friends Amy Inglefield and Jeunesse Ali, both 24, have been doing since February 2009, when they started their company TimeSquared Limited, a concierge and image consulting and personal shopping business.
We could base their ability to get so much done on their solid time management skills, but it’s more a case of seemingly endless energy, dashing out of cars, running up stairs, prioritising on the go, and being true tag team players.
“Even though it’s just both of us and we don’t have employees right now, we’re very efficient in getting stuff done,” Ali explains. “Our whole concept is that we’re doubling your time with the service we offer. Clients are so amazed at how quickly we do things. People see that they can trust us with their business. They see the service as being efficient and timely. With our image consulting, we’re also saving you time, showing you how easy it is to get ready, and ‘look good’.”
“It takes a lot of energy to be able to do this every day.”
“Youth also has something to do with it,” Inglefield adds. “It takes a lot of energy to be able to do this every day. Clients call us at any time.
“Working people here don’t have the time to do little things like banking or running errands. There are a lot of concierge businesses abroad, and we thought it’d be so good for Trinidad because people are so caught up with work and it’s hard to take time off to do these everyday things or even things like being at the bank… or paying taxes. We don’t have the convenience that they do away, where everything is online. We aren’t at that level of technology where you can do virtually everything online. So it pays for companies to send somebody else, rather than someone from the office who will be away from work for one hour or two hours.”
In addition to banks, other large companies, and small businesses, TimeSquared’s clientele comprises individuals, including working people and senior citizens. TimeSquared will do your dry cleaning, pay bills, deliver packages, or take elderly people to appointments, going wherever clients need them to in west, south, central and east Trinidad. Basically, they do whatever you want.
The concierge services are actually affordable, and manageable with TimeSquared offering several packages, including different, monthly packages with a particular number of hours allotted to clients.
“In a way it was an easy business to start up because you don’t need a lot of start-up capital,” Ali explains. “ You just need time, a car to drive etc.”
“Our car is our office,” Inglefield adds. “All our emails are done from our phone. Thank God for BB (BlackBerry). We also use our diaries are well. The car… that’s our office that’s where we do business. We’re always on the road. We work on the go.”
Before we go deeper with TimeSquared’s story, let’s think about their business setting though. Trinidad and Tobago is a pretty hectic place, especially for working people. With work taking up so much of our time, never ending traffic, and things like going to the bank or a Government office easily taking up your entire lunch hour, it’s safe to say the average person would welcome having someone to run their errands. However, hiring someone to go to the bank for you isn’t necessarily the norm in Trinidad and Tobago and, unless you can beg a favour from a friend or family member or you’re fortunate enough to know of a trusted individual who can run your errands, you’re destined to cuss about long lines and bumper-to-bumper traffic erasing your free time. Still, it’s something that companies and individuals can benefit from.
A personal concierge service like TimeSquared’s runs on the most basic of premises. People want things done, but don’t have the time to do them. So if someone else can do it efficiently and effectively, it works well for everyone involved. Convenience is the main benefit here, and TimeSquared is sort of like the personal assistant you’ve always wanted.
Nevertheless, although concierge services are definitely not a new type of business, and are widespread overseas, in Trinidad and Tobago, it takes trust for you to hire a virtual stranger to conduct your affairs. That was the prospect Ali and Inglefield also faced when they returned to Trinidad, after completing undergraduate studies abroad, just over a year before they started TimeSquared. Ali had studied events and tourism, and Inglefield Fine Arts and English. Inglefield was working in advertising at the time, at her father’s firm Inglefield/Ogilvy & Mather, and Ali was working in events at the Oval.
“Jeunesse (Ali) came up with the concierge idea,” says Inglefield. “She was thinking… how could I not be stuck at an office all day conducting business and trying to get my stuff done. And I told her if she came up with a good idea, I’d be 100% on board. You don’t really hear about this sort of service locally, but it wasn’t that popular and talking to our parents they’d always be like, ‘Can you do this for me. Can you do that for me?’
“It’s not that I didn’t like my job at all. I like marketing, reaching out to markets and what it takes to make brands successful. But I wanted to do something for myself. Dad told me there’s nothing better than working for myself. So I was glad that Jeunesse was thinking the same way. There’s only so far you can get in someone else’s company. When you’re on your own you’re empowered… that’s what really struck me, even though it’s our customers who in a way run our company too.”
“We work for them,” Ali adds. “But this way… we can get out, we’re around different people all day, seeing different things.”
“We don’t want to change our clients.”
The image consulting side of the business came into play with Inglefield’s love of fashion.
“I was always into image, clothes and fashion and shopping, which is typical for a lot of girls,” she says. “I found I had a knack for it, and before we started TimeSquared I told Jeunesse I was going to do an intensive training programme in image consulting at the Sterling Style Academy in Miami and encouraged her to go with me, which she did.”
Certified and thus able to operate as image consultants, fashion consultants, style consultants, fashion stylists, personal stylists and personal shoppers, the two quickly added this service to their portfolio, launching TimeSquared’s full offering from day one.
TimeSquared’s start was highly based on generating interest in the service, networking and referrals. When they started up in 2009, they stuffed mailboxes with flyers, advertised in The Westerly, a community newspaper in west Trinidad, emailed their parents’ friends, and got themselves featured in the daily newspapers to spread word of their new business. Word of mouth referrals, however, have been a main source of customers for them, with employees of some of their corporate clients, hiring TimeSquared to do their personal errands.
“We have a client whose mother, grandmother and sister use us as well,” says Inglefield.
Now, on the image consulting side of the business, when most people think about having someone advise them about their dress code, they think about being restricted to one set of colours or styles, as opposed to being able to express their individuality. However, Ali and Inglefield definitely have a more modern take that ensures that clients maintain their individuality, and their budget, which goes a long way in establishing TimeSquared’s positioning as a consultancy in this area, and viability as personal shoppers. With their knack for fashion, and knowledge of trends, they’ve been working with client of various ages, body types and lifestyles.
“We don’t do the colour wads,” says Ali. “We don’t confine you to a season… winter… summer etc. We show our clients they can wear any colour, but it’s the hue of the colour that matters. So we have a modern take on it. We don’t want to change our clients. It’s just about making them more comfortable and helping them to feel good in what they wear. We just create a more confident version of you.”
“We just create a more confident version of you.”
“So far people have been using the wardrobe analysis,” says Inglefield. “Personal shopping is not ‘I’m gonna buy you a whole new wardrobe’. When you hire us you see how things can look on you. Image consultants are there to show you, ‘Hey do you see the difference this makes for your legs or torso?’ It’s seeing hands on the kind of impact new styles can have on you.
“As a part of our consultation, we get to know about you. We give our clients a quiz that helps them to determine their style based on what they like, aspire to be, or their lifestyle.”
“You don’t have to have a huge budget,” Ali adds, chiming in. “We take you places to shop, and work with your budget. You don’t just buy clothes for no reason whatsoever.”
With this sort of accommodating philosophy that seeks to create the greatest value for clients, Inglefield and Ali are off to a great start.
“It’s still in its early stages and we still have a lot more room to grow,” says Ali. “It’ll be a profitable company and grow, especially with the concierge services. What we can offer is limitless. We can tap into everybody because everyone has different needs. We can tailor it too. For image consulting, you can either be going to an event, looking for a job or looking for a serious relationship and want to look good… it sounds funny but it can be applicable. There are tonnes of ways to use an image consultant, as well as concierge services. It’s not just the people who have money to spend or places to go who use image consulting.”
“Being a young entrepreneur is great, because what we’re doing is new, and I say it’s a new idea because we’ve pushed our business as something different… and not something you’ve really seen before in Trinidad,” Inglefield adds. “For some people it’s totally new, so it gives us the opportunity to make an impression.
“Trinidad has so much potential, especially like young potential, and just because we’re a small island doesn’t mean we’re limited to small island things. You also have the potential to really become successful because competition mightn’t be that large, whereas there’s so much more competition in the States.”
TimeSquared is an apt example of this viewpoint… Young potential… Room to grow… Opportunities to make a great impression… And creating a model that offers value, convenience and reliability for customers.
To contact TimeSquared, check out their Facebook page.
Photography by Mark Lyndersay of http://lyndersaydigital.com. Mark is a professional photographer and writer working in Trinidad and Tobago since 1976. His column on personal technology, BitDepth, has been continuously published since 1995. He is currently pursuing a photo essay series about how Trinidad and Tobago pursues its culture and festivals called Local Lives. Both series are archived on his website at http://lyndersaydigital.com.
Check out the rest of this week’s issue (10/01/11; Issue 40):
- Biological Clocks: Why Some Men and Women don’t want Kids
- Fetishes: Why We Hide them from Ourselves and Others
- Soca Music: Empty or Saying Something?
- If we’re innovators, why are we going after old models?
- Bring Back De Ole Time Days: Nostalgia Overrated?
Look out for a new issue of Outlish.com every Monday.