Tag Archives: PANACHE Magazine

The Latest Issue of PANACHE Is Here!


Cover- Issue December 2018

Sabrina Reynolds’ 2019 collection of leather handbags shines in our final issue of 2018! Read her rebirth story by Marshelle Haseley on page 17. Then island-hop with us to Grenada as we shine the spotlight on Belmont Estate- a true foodie’s paradise. Kaleidoscope makes a colourful splash back into the Jamaican market- learn more about their future plans for the vibrant island. Get wooed once more with Miami Temptations as you check out Choiselle’s new soursop oil infused face elixir; amazing holiday recipes and more!

Happy Holidays from #TEAMPANACHE!

Free Digital Edition: https://goo.gl/i1WH8e

Order Print Copies via Mag Cloud: https://goo.gl/qstmdr

Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker Review

Written By DJ Courtney

If you’ve never heard about Bowers & Wilkins before, this brand represents class, style and quality. So when I got the Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker to test- my initial excitement was obvious, however having experienced it, I have mixed views.

Firstly, when I unboxed it, as expected you could see the quality and workmanship that went into designing & building this speaker- it is top class.  The T7 box came with the speaker and the charger included, however, no USB cable.

Photos courtesy of Bowers & Wilkins

This wireless speaker had a nice spider web/honeycomb design in its housing with a rubber frame around plus the finish was black blended with dark grey. It’s not too big for a portable speaker, but it’s not exactly lightweight either nor can it hold in your pocket.


The foremost thing that I noticed which bothered me, was what I thought was a USB charging port. It actually turned out to be just for updating the device. Thus, the only way it can be charged is with the charger that comes in the box which I later used and charged it for about five hours.


Connecting the wireless speaker was easy, the buttons are built into the frame at the top. The Bowers & Wilkins T7 also offered a connection via auxiliary cable. Nonetheless, I decided to test the Bluetooth function by connecting my iPhone and let me tell you, the sound was incredible! I already own two other Bluetooth speakers and the T7 blew them out the water. With that said, this didn’t have a speakerphone function. It has two speakers at the front and a subwoofer styled speaker at the back, nevertheless, as I said before, it sounds awesome.

I’ve been using this wireless speaker on and off now for about six days, yet I’ve still not charged it since the initial power up- now that’s a battery life that I can’t complain about at all.


This is definitely a high-end speaker, so you’re definitely paying for a quality well-made Bluetooth speaker, which produces great sound from a reputable brand.

It’s presently on my living room shelf for all to see, as this is not one of those speakers to have around the pool or outdoors, unfortunately, it is not water-resistant or waterproof. But all in all, it’s the best sounding Bluetooth speaker for that size I’ve ever used and heard.


The Sennheiser Review: HD 25 Robin Schulz Limited Edition

Review By DJ Courtney

This review of the Sennheiser HD 25 Robin Schulz Edition headphones was done at the Morning Medz event which I DJ-ed at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, Jamaica; so I decided that would be where I would test them live.

Photography by Oneil Banton

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of white DJ Headphones as I find them hard to maintain. Plus given that the event was a breakfast party, initially, I had my doubts, because the morning was extremely hot. However, when I finished they were easy to clean, as for functionality, I was already familiar with the HD25 and they performed exceptionally as was expected.
Most people would probably already know that the Sennheiser HD25 is very popular worldwide, having been around from the 80s. So the focus of this review is to see what the differences with this Robin Schulz Edition are. So let’s get into the details because they are still one of the best DJ Headphones on the market.

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Photography by Oneil Banton

They are extremely comfortable for a DJ and also for general use. These are probably the lightest professional headphones on the market, the sound is totally amazing and in my opinion even better now, with just the right amount of balance to your ears, great bass and the mid & highs are super clean, basically, you’re hearing every instrument on a track cleanly.

Product Photos courtesy of Sennheiser

The design is the same, they may seem simple, but they are extremely strong and can take a drop without getting a scratch. It has the split headband for adjustment on your head, closed-back design, flip-away ear cups if you need to listen to the crowd, and a 1/4 inch screw-on jack. The other great thing about the HD25 is that the parts are replaceable, like the ear cups etc., so I’m assuming, these will be also.

It’s hard doing a review for these headphones as almost every DJ in the world who have used one will tell you it’s in the top 5 available in the market, it’s a winner no matter what.
So I’m basically going to say these Headphones are now white with the branding of Robin Schulz, who is a great DJ, who has now teamed up with an already great headphone, & they are also Limited Edition, so who am I to complain.

Stush In The Bush: Best Off The Beaten Path


Written by Tricia Williamson | Photos courtesy of Stush In The Bush

Stush in the Bush at Zionites Farm, nestled in the hills of Free Hill, Bamboo St. Ann, Jamaica is a 15-acre organic farm. The brainchild of Lisa and Chris Binns, this farm-to-table tour reflects a true love with nature. Nature blends with stushness to give you a unique gourmet experience made from homegrown ingredients.


Stush in the Bush is unapologetic in its authenticity and is all about the experience.


Many traditional crops are grown on the farm in addition to exotic vegetables that are used to freshly create preserves, dressings and sauces that excite your taste buds. Beautiful farm to table lunches are the hallmark of the farm. So be sure to book your reservation early!


Beyond the food, it’s a great farm tour that focuses on tasting as well- so you enjoy the tastes of pineapples, sugar cane, coconut water fresh from nature as you learn about the land, plants and their medicinal properties.


Visit http://www.stushinthebush.com for more info

Kristie, Kinisha & PANACHE… It’s A Celebration! #NewIssueAlert

Panache Mag June 2018PANACHE Issue 3 2018 

Kinisha, Kristie & PANACHE…We’re celebrating our win for Best Feature at this year’s CTO Travel Media Awards in New York!  If you didn’t know now you know…Story & Myth is More Than Just Beads…

In this issue, we island hop over to St. Lucia for their Jazz Festival and share with you a summer of super savings sure to entice you to make Grenada your next trip! After that you can join us at the American Black Film Festival in Miami for our exclusive interview with HBO Insecure’s Jay R. Ellis.

Other features include JMMB’s “Bold Step towards Financial Independence”; reviews of DodoCool, Shinola, ThinkSound and MIIEGO Headphones; Journeys of Fatherhood by three Jamaican Dads; Wedding Trends for 2018; Great Gifts for Him; and delight in a taste off the beaten path at Stush in the Bush… Plus so much more!

PANACHE Magazine Wins Big at CTO Travel Media Awards In New York

Best Feature by Caribbean Journalist for a Caribbean Media

June 8, 2018, New York, USA

Kinisha and Tricia
Kinisha Correia (L), award-winning journalist, and Tricia Williamson, CEO & Editorial Director, PANACHE, proudly display their winning award at the recent Caribbean Travel Media Awards in New York.

PANACHE Magazine (the flagship travel and lifestyle magazine from the PANACHE Digital Media family), has won the Best Feature Award that appeared in a Caribbean-based media by a Caribbean-based Journalist.  This was announced at the coveted Caribbean Travel Media Awards in New York on Friday, June 8, 2018.

The award-winning feature, “More than Just Beads: Story and Myth,” which was written by Kinisha Correia, was published in the October 2017 issue and showcased the work of Story & Myth, a Jamaican brand which specialises in, “island-inspired handmade jewellery.”   The four-page feature, which included photography by Niesha Brown, was a unique celebration of stunning earthiness behind each Story & Myth bracelet and necklace.  The feature shared details on how each bead is made and highlighted the fact that they are created by local artisans, many of whom are physically disabled.   The creations of these individuals provide them with much-needed income for their families.


Tricia Williamson, CEO and Editorial Director of PANACHE Magazine, said, “We are honoured by this achievement.  This win speaks volumes to our unwavering commitment to being the voice for Jamaican and Caribbean stories that truly connect with our readers. I commend Kinisha on the way she utilised her writing prowess to produce such a well-written story that captured the imagination of the readers and I am forever grateful to Story & Myth for allowing us to share their powerful story through our magazine.”

Award-winning writer, Kinisha Correia, shared, “I’m appreciative and honoured that my work has been recognized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). I’m also proud that the piece selected was on a business creating change by weaving environmental and socially conscious practices into its work. Winning this award strengthens the message that business can be a force for good in the region. I’m grateful to be a part of that cultural shift.”

Kristie Stephenson, owner of Story & Myth, added that she was, “…thrilled and excited that these long time oral mythical stories are getting acknowledged in the mainstream.”

This was PANACHE’s first time participating in the prestigious travel media awards and along with the historic win; the magazine was also a finalist for Best Photograph Accompanying a Feature.  The image by Ikenna Douglas, which was displayed on the PANACHE Magazine Cover of April 2017, was the entry in this Category.

We’re very proud and excited at PANACHE!  This win is a “celebration of excellence” and we are humbled to know that our efforts are seen in that light!  We are also truly grateful for the recognition of our Caribbean talent by the CTO, as we know that this will serve as motivation to other upcoming Caribbean journalists,” shared Tricia Williamson.


PANACHE Communications/ PANACHE Digital Media is a magazine publishing and digital marketing company based in Jamaica and the USA. PANACHE Magazine is published six times annually in print on demand via Magcloud and free digital editions at www.panachejamagazine.com

For more info, visit www.panachedigital.media

About the CTO Travel Media Awards

The Caribbean tourism industry cherishes its strong relationship with the media and in appreciation for their constant positive coverage of the region, recognizes media for influencing their readers to travel to the Caribbean.  This recognition took place in New York City during Caribbean Week New York.

To honour the media’s exceptional work in promoting the Caribbean, in feature print, broadcast and online, we invite CTO government members, their public relations agencies and journalists to provide us with their top media placements for 2017 on CTO member countries. Awards will be presented to journalists from US and Caribbean-based media.

For more info, visit: http://www.onecaribbean.org

We Won! PANACHE Magazine Wins at CTO Travel Media Awards In New York

Kinisha Correia wins the coveted Best Feature by Caribbean Journalist for a Caribbean Media award for the beautifully penned feature on Story & Myth

Kinisha and Tricia

Congratulations to Kinisha Correia (l) who penned the award-winning #BestFeature on Story & Myth for PANACHE Magazine. Sharing in the moment is Tricia Williamson, CEO & Editorial Director, PANACHE.


The award for Best Feature by a Caribbean Journalist in Caribbean Media was presented at the prestigious CTO Travel Media Awards in New York on June 7 during #CaribbeanWeekNewYork |

We’re Finalists! PANACHE Magazine is up for two CTO Travel Media Awards

WE’RE Finalists 😀😀😀!!! #PANACHEMagazine is pleased to share that we are finalists in the upcoming CTO Travel Media Awards 2018 in New York, June 7! #CaribbeanWeekNewYork@ctotourism
Kudos to Kinisha and IKenna for their great work and nominations!

CTO Travel Media Awards 2018 finalist-p
BEST FEATURE by a Caribbean Journalist – “More Than Just Beads: Story and Myth” @storyandmyth by KINISHA CORREIA | PANACHE Magazine October 2017


BEST PHOTOGRAPH accompanying a feature –
PANACHE Magazine Cover April 2017 by IKENNA DOUGLAS @idouglasphoto 


Check out our feature on IKenna Douglas here!

“We’re very proud at PANACHE for our works being selected as finalists! It’s a celebration of excellence and we are grateful for the honour of this recognition of our Caribbean talent,” shared Tricia Williamson @twill876, PANACHE CEO/ Editorial Director.

Kudos #TeamPANACHE!

About the CTO Travel Media Awards

The Caribbean tourism industry cherishes its strong relationship with the media and in appreciation for their constant positive coverage of the region, recognizes media for influencing their readers to travel to the Caribbean.  This recognition will take place on June 7, 2018 in New York City during Caribbean Week New York.

To honor the media’s exceptional work in promoting the Caribbean, in feature print, broadcast and online we invite CTO government members, their public relations agencies and journalists to provide us with their top media placements for 2017 on CTO member countries.

Awards will be presented to journalists from US and Caribbean-based media.

For more info, visit: http://www.onecaribbean.org

The Fearless Joy Spence

Interview by Tricia Williamson

The original visitor centre at the Appleton Estate was opened in 1988 and 30 years later, on Thursday, January 18, 2018 it was reopened, as the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (JSAERE). The facility is now four times its original size, and features a restaurant and lounge, a jerk pit, and a theatre. At the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience, visitors will enjoy a guided tour of the artefacts that tell the history of the Appleton Estate, Jamaica’s oldest sugar estate and distillery which is still in continuous production mode. In the distillery, visitors will view the copper pot stills that are unique to the Appleton Estate and which give our rums their distinctive character. They will then visit one of the company’s aging houses, where our rums rest in oak barrels for up to 50 years, before sampling fresh sugar cane juice, as well as wet sugar – a combination of brown sugar and molasses. In this issue of PANACHE, we had the great honour of sitting down one-on-one with the lady behind it all- the world’s first female Master Blender, Dr. Joy Spence, OD.

Panache Mag Apr12

Photography by Craig Harley

PANACHE: What was your first experience with rum?
Joy Spence: My first encounter with rum was when I actually joined the company, because I never drank rum before that. So I started working in the laboratory as a Chief Chemist, where we test for various blends, do sensory analysis and also taste. The first time I tasted Appleton Estate 12 year old rum, I said, “Oh my gosh, this is such an amazing complex spirit with wonderful flavours! I was detecting vanilla, coffee, cocoa, almond, a little of orange and I just didn’t know that rum could be so complex. I just thought at the time that rum was a very harsh spirit and all you’d be getting is the smell of the alcohol, but didn’t know it had all these beautiful flavours in it. That’s how I fell in love with rum.

PANACHE: Who was your mentor and what was that relationship like?
Joy: My mentor was Owen Tulloch. We had a wonderful relationship (smiles). You know most people in the company feared him [Laughs] and didn’t want to go into his office, but we got on so well. You know I am the sort of person who considers that there are only two answers to any sort of question- yes or no. I am fearless. So I knocked on his door and went in and shared that I was very fascinated with the work he was doing. I saw him as an artist in the whole process whereas I saw myself as more as the scientist. I wanted to get more involved with the artistry so he took me under his wings. He showed me how the various rums aged over time and how the various flavours developed. I worked with him for 17 years and when he retired I was appointed Master Blender.

Vintage - Joy when she was appointed Maseter Blender in 1997 - 2

PANACHE: Describe the experience of becoming a Master Blender, the first female to be bestowed that honour in the world.
Joy: When I was appointed Master Blender, we started doing some research and realised that internationally there was no other female Master Blender in the entire spirits industry. And I couldn’t believe it! I thought, here I am just a little Jamaican woman… (Laughs) Breaking this milestone and actually breaking the glass ceiling for other females in the industry and I really felt proud as a Jamaican.


PANACHE: What attracted you to work at Appleton?
Joy: I was working at Tia Maria as the Research Chemist right next door to J. Wray and Nephew Limited. At that time I was just working on one product at Tia Maria and I became very bored because I love to multi-task. So on my days of boredom, I would look across the fence and see lots of activity taking place- tankers rolling in and a lot of people looking very busy. And I thought that it looked like an interesting place to work. So I sent my resume over there, they called me in for an interview. Though at the time they didn’t have a vacancy, they were very impressed with my resume and two weeks later they called with a position they had created for me. I was offered the position of Chief Chemist and that’s how I joined the company.


PANACHE: That’s excellent. On another note, given your work with Appleton, is there a personal favourite you have in the brand?
Joy: Ahhh, it depends on the occasion. If I am just drinking everyday like at a party or just relaxing in my garden at home, I’ll have Appleton Estate Reserve. For very sophisticated occasions, I’ll have the Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old or the 21 Year old Rum.
However, in terms of the blends that I have developed, the one I would say is closest to my heart is, the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, because I was asked to create this blend in celebration of my 20 years as Master Blender, and given the fact that they named the rum in my honour.


PANACHE: There’s no comparison anywhere where a company has bestowed such honour on its Master Blender, from the rum to this new tour. How does that feel?
Joy: Ohhhh can you imagine (laughs), I’m still in a state of shock. I still can’t believe when I am driving on the road and I see the road signs with my name on the sign and I think to myself “Oh my gosh, that’s my name.”
When the Managing Director told me last year May, while I was away in Milan, that he had something to tell me and he said, “I have decided to name the rum experience after you.”
So I said, “Hold on, I was just in a meeting and the name of the experience is going to be the Appleton Estate Rum Experience!” So here it is I am telling the Managing Director and so he asks me, “So who is the Managing Director? I am and I am telling you that I have decided to name this facility after you.”
Tears just started to flow.


PANACHE: When it comes to your work what is your philosophy in life?
Joy: I am very passionate about anything that I do. Even for the simplest task I apply passion to it. I am very creative and I think outside the box, then I put my own little flair, passion and creativity into it. I look at flavours that were not traditionally seen as rum flavours.

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PANACHE: How do you innovate with a heritage product like Appleton with such a rich history?
Joy: The interesting thing is that we have many different styles of rum at Appleton and all of them are aging uniquely. So even after 25 years these rums develop different flavours during the aging process. We have rums as old as 50 years developing very unique flavour profiles. They provide many bases to work with over the years that it is never exhausted and that makes it so unique and fascinating.

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PANACHE: What are some of the obstacles you have faced and how have you overcome them?
Joy: Interestingly, as a female Master Blender I didn’t have a lot of obstacles, most persons knew that I was working in the industry before as a Chief Chemist and had spent years understudying the previous Master Blender. So I didn’t have difficulties as a female, where people showed negative reactions to me. And when I was first appointed, I thought that journalists would give me a hard time, but it was absolutely not the case. They embraced me.
The area where I have the biggest problem is when I travel and have to deal with immigration and customs. They never ever believe that I have this occupation. They give me a hard time and think that I am actually making it up. I remember I was in Miami International Airport and the Customs Officer asked me, “What do you do?” I replied that I was a “Rum Master Blender”and he looked at me and said, “Really now? This is the best excuse I have heard for a profession in a long time.” And of course, I was coming from Jamaica so he drilled me with more questions. Then, the Customs Officer next door to him, started to listen to this conversation and he looked across and he recognized me from the Travel Channel. He then jumped off his seat and came over and said, “Oh my god, you are the rum lady! You know how long I have wanted to meet you,” and shook my hand.
My customs officer then believed me and apologized.

The picturesque Nassau Valley, St. Elizabeth

PANACHE: You have met many people throughout your life as a Master Blender, who would you say has been the most memorable.
Joy: Let me take a moment to think about it, I have met so many wonderful people… I would say Bobby Flay (laughs) and Andrew Zimmern … simply because I’m a foodie too! I was so fascinated that I could sit and talk with these persons about their skills and how they became very famous Chefs.

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PANACHE: With all this wealth of knowledge how do you pass it on for the next generation?
Joy: Well, I used to teach before I went into the rum manufacturing business and so at work I am always teaching and always passing on my knowledge. I am not selfish with my knowledge at all. So I will sit down with the workers in the blending hall or my own staffers in my department and say, “Look, this is how you’re going to grow in the business, these are the tricks of the trade and this is what you need to know.” They call me ‘Mommy,’ ‘Äuntie’ (Laughs).

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PANACHE: What’s been your proudest moment in all your years?
Joy: Well, I have two. The first was being honoured with the Commander of Distinction from the Jamaican Government. Then the proudest moment was when I was here for the opening and cutting of the ribbon at the launch of this new rum experience tour and facility.

Overview of the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience

PANACHE: Any thoughts for anyone who may be considering a future as a Master Blender?
Joy: I would recommend to any young female looking to enter the business to ensure that they have very good sensory skills because that is the baseline for becoming a great Master Blender. They should be creative and have good knowledge of the rum manufacturing process. They should also be passionate and should always give 110% to whatever they are doing. And most importantly, they should always be humble. Once you have all those qualities you will be successful.

PANACHE: Excellent Advice, are you on social media?
Joy: (Laughs) The company has a site, but no I don’t have a personal presence there. You know why?

Joy: I have seen so many instances where persons get into a web of confusion by just making one innocent comment on their personal site. Happens all the time, so I said, you know something, if I was just a little unknown person… yes, but once you’re in this realm and you have your brand, I have decided that whatever is going to be there is going to be through the company.The company decides exactly what they are going to say on social media, but I stay away from making personal comments.

PANACHE: Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you would love to do?
Joy: Two things… I have been to New Zealand about four times, I think it is one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I would love to be able to take my family there for them to actually experience that beautiful country. And secondly, I have always wanted to go to Botswana, my dream one day is just to stand by the elephants and just hold their trunks (laughs). I love elephants and I find Africa fascinating and Botswana has a variety of experiences there… so hopefully one day, I’ll go to Africa.

Cover- Issue 2-2018-TW-Website

“Joy Spence, Appleton Estate’s Master Blender and the World’s First Female Master Blender (of a global brand) with more than 20 years of experience, was awarded the honour of the Order of Distinction (OD) in the Rank of Commander (CD) by the Government of Jamaica in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of Jamaica’s rum industry and Brand Jamaica globally. The Order of Distinction (OD)is a national order in the Jamaican honours system conferred upon citizens of Jamaica who have rendered outstanding and important services to Jamaica, or to distinguished citizens of a country other than Jamaica.”
– The RumHowler Blog –

Davina Bennett… The Afro Queen

Miss Jamaica Davina Bennett might not have won the first place crown at this year’s Miss Universe pageant, but she definitely made a lasting impression. The 21-year-old philanthropist chose to take the pageant stage with her natural hair, an afro, instead of the common blowouts and extensions we see time after time on pageant stages.

Afros and the natural hairstyles of people of colour are still frequently considered unprofessional or deemed inappropriate so Bennett’s act of wearing her true hair is a statement against the norm. Bennett chose to use her platform and provide representation to the countless faces at home watching who share her natural hair texture, but rarely get to see the attribute reflected in beauty pageants.”- Chloe Hall, Elle.com

PANACHE Issue 1 Covershot-Social Media

PANACHE 2018 Issue 1


A few months now have passed since the Miss Universe Competition where Davina was awarded 2nd Runner-Up and proudly represented Jamaica. Amidst her crazy schedule of appearances and photo shoots and interviews were honoured to get a moment and reflect on all that has transpired and the what the future holds.

A lover of her parish Clarendon, she calls it her “favourite chill spot”. A foodie at heart, like a true island girl she loves her seafood. Davina by any measure is a stunning beauty with a regal air about her when she walks into a space. She is the perfect model in front of a camera lens and needs little or no direction- she loves the camera and it certainly loves her back.

Our Miss Jamaica has a mantra that believes “a positive mind with positive thoughts will bring positive results.” An inspiration to many herself to so many, she recounts, “Yes I am surprised that I have inspired so many people because of what I did on the international stage.” She shares that her greatest inspiration has come from her grandfather.

Read our full interview with Davina Bennett below:

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Creative Direction & Interview by Tricia Williamson | Photography by Craig Harley | Makeup Artist: Rasine Hamilton |Art & Design by Oneil Banton | Photoshoot Assistance by Chantel Bailey | Dress: Uzuri International & Tia Clothes Girl 

PANACHE: Everybody loves your hair, your crowning glory so let’s begin there… What would you say was a turning point in your hair journey- was it ever a love/hate relationship?
Davina Bennett (DB): I’ve always had a love/ hate relationship with my hair because it’s sometimes hard to maintain and handle on my own, but I love it because it inspires others to just be themselves and embrace their natural looks and it plays a significant role in the representation of one’s self-value.

PANACHE: The wearing of your natural hair at the Miss Universe pageant was a redefinition of international beauty standards. What made you decide to wear your hair naturally and free (no ponytails, no flat iron needed)?
DB: I decided to keep the natural hair to break the stigma and perception of how beauty queens should look.

PANACHE: What products do you use in your hair to keep it so lustrous and beautiful?
DB: My favourite products to use are from ORS Olive Oil, from their moisturizers to their shampoo and conditioner. I am also a fan of natural products like castor oil and coconut oil.

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PANACHE: What advice would you give to someone who wants to go natural?
DB: I would advise them to give it a try and embrace their natural beauty.

PANACHE: We love your beautiful skin, what is your beauty regime?
DB: For my skin, there is not one specific regime but I tend to use a lot of natural body oil products mainly from Kihara’s line and drink plenty of water.

PANACHE: Jamaica supported you before, during and after the Miss Universe pageant, what did the outpouring of love mean to you?
DB: The love I’ve received thus far is indescribable; I am humbled and grateful to have been received so well by the public.

PANACHE: From Pop Sugar to Allure to People to Essence to Elle international media have fallen in love with you and your Afro-American, you’ve ignited a fire in natural hair movement. What was your reaction to all that press and attention…even #AfroFriday here in Jamaica?
DB: All the love from the press is still overwhelming and I am filled with such gratification from all the exposure…I’m still pinching myself!

PANACHE: You looked stunning in yellow and red, do you have a favourite colour?
DB: Thank you, my favourite colour is gold.


PANACHE: When someone says to you “How can you be the physical representation of your country?” What’s your response?
DB: Our motto is out of many one people and that is significant as we are a melting pot of different ethnic backgrounds, cultures and religion and I am a testimony of this. My family line is a mixture of Indians, Africans and even Afro-Latina and the greatest thing is that they all coexist in one love just as the people in Jamaica.

PANACHE: How did your friend Jermaine Dyer motivate you to enter the competition?
DB: Jermaine Dyer motivated me by being positive, by helping me and guiding me along the way and the constant talks about how great I am and how much greater I will become.

PANACHE: What was the reaction of your Mom and Dad when you told them you were going for the crown?
DB: I wasn’t with my parents physically to see their reactions but it was always my dad’s dream so he was over the moon, my mom, on the other hand, was a bit hesitant because she knew I was afraid of speaking in front of a large audience and she was wondering if I was really ready.

PANACHE: People see the glitz and glamour, but tell us about the work that you and the team put in behind the scenes from speech sessions with Paula Ann and more… The hard work and guts begin the glitz…
DB: It was a team effort that involved so many individuals. I had plenty of speech sessions with both Paula-Anne Porter-Jones and Fabian Thomas, Hard-core gym time with Debbie Hall from Spartan Health Club, Dance & Movement with Marlon Simms of NDTC, Stage Presentation & Runway sessions with Yendi Phillipps, Etiquette sessions with Angelie Martin-Spencer, Current & World Affairs Training with National Directors Mark McDermoth and Karl Williams and even makeup classes with Oneil Baugh and Dawn Lindo from D’Marie Institute. Styling was also vital and so we had a few fittings that created the perfect wardrobe. Karl and Mark also did an excellent job in getting local designers and boutiques to contribute to the wardrobe as well as putting the pieces together.

PANACHE Issue 1 201828

PANACHE: On August 27, you posted ” I did it” with a portrait of tears of joy… What was that moment like for you…being crowned Miss Universe Jamaica 2017 now that you reflect on it.
DB: It was a wonderful feeling to have won the Miss Universe Jamaica title because I felt like I was always losing and needed that victory to prove to myself that I could do anything once I worked hard and I did just that.

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PANACHE: You once said you knew what it meant to “fail and work twice as hard”. What major challenge(s) have you faced in life and how did you rise above it?
DB: I have faced many challenges, medical problems, a struggling career, robbery et al… I overcame all the adversaries because I had a good support system from both family and friends.

PANACHE: As our queen, you represent Jamaica by being yourself, authentic and bold- how would you like to inspire other young girls?
DB: I would like to inspire other young women to keep fighting for what they believe, never give up on themselves and to know that they are beautiful just the way they are.

PANACHE: Tell us more about your foundation, it’s work and the goals you have for 2018?
DB: The Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf is to spread awareness for the Deaf community and eradicate the barriers of communication. The goals for 2018 would be to continue on that path with new projects and partnerships along the way.

PANACHE: You are very passionate about the work of your Davina Bennett Foundation for the Deaf. Your emotional reaction to your friend and mentee hearing clearly for the first time with an hearing aid was powerful. Please share more about that project of distributing hearing aids to 500 people across Jamaica.
DB: The hearing aids were not distributed by me but by the Starkey Foundation, I was a Patron and witnessed the work they were doing, and I got so emotional when Britney was given the hearing-aid and heard me for the first time.

PANACHE Issue 1 201816

PANACHE: What changes would you like to see in Jamaica to better support those who are hearing impaired?
DB: I would like for the Deaf community to be granted equal opportunities as those in society from their educational facilities and system to their social everyday duties. I’d like to see more of them being employed.

PANACHE: As an Ambassador for Ending Bullying, what positive impact do you see yourself having in that capacity?
DB: As an End- bullying Ambassador I can certainly relate to being bullied because I too was a victim and this platform has allowed me to not only share my experiences but how I overcame bullying. My message is to love who you are and embrace yourself.

PANACHE: You are a social influencer, who/ what are some of your favourite accounts to follow?
DB: I love to follow other influencers like Oprah and Rihanna.

PANACHE: Social media has its pros and cons… It has been a great platform for fans to show their support and for you to raise awareness of worthy causes. So as an Ambassador to End Bullying, what advice would you give for youths on social media today?
DB: I would tell the youth to love themselves, to understand that all names are temporary and they are all uniquely made.

PANACHE: Is there any style or dress that you love the most from your collection?
DB: I would have to say my favourite dress would be my yellow final gown worn on the final night of the Miss Universe competition. The first time I saw it and fitted it, it brought tears to my eyes…tears of joy!

PANACHE: Name one fashion trend you hope never comes back?
DB: I am a lover of fashion and appreciate all kinds however I think it’s safe to say (and I know many females will agree) that I hate to see men wearing sagging pants…it’s not sexy at all!

PANACHE: Your current role aside, what would be your dream role?
DB: My dream role was always to be an international model.

PANACHE: How do you deal with negative people?
DB: I don’t focus on negative people so I don’t normally allow their energy to consume me.

PANACHE: Where do you see yourself in three years?
DB: I see myself as a philanthropist and successful entrepreneur.

PANACHE: What would you say to the next young Jamaican girl looking to enter the Miss Universe competition next year?
DB: I would say, give it a try, don’t be afraid of your voice, help make a difference and wow the world. |P

PANACHE Issue 1 Covershot