Immigrant entrepreneurs have always fascinated me. Being an immigrant living in New York and a child of immigrant parents living in Britain, I’m always stunned at the resiliency of immigrant communities. They work long and hard to make life easier for their children; no matter what obstacles they encounter: language barriers, racism, not being assimilated into mainstream culture, etc. These brave people—being uprooted from all things familiar and living in a whole new environment, often without support systems—forge ahead and make it work. Recent statistics about immigration and entrepreneurship in New York are no surprise. In my adopted hometown of New York City, nearly half of the entrepreneurs were born elsewhere.
I recently ended up at the Consulate General of Jamaica for the launch of “The Baker’s Son” by Lowell Hawthorne, (published by Akashic Books) thanks to my friend Camille Agard. My purpose at this event was simply to get golden nuggets of wisdom from this entrepreneur-author who rose from being a struggling immigrant to running the largest Caribbean business in the United States—a $100 million franchise. Aside from all the philanthropic work Hawthorne does, his vision remains strong and powerful: a twofold goal to make Jamaican cuisine part of mainstream culture and to expand into markets overseas, such as Britain.
Hawthorne’s book, “The Baker’s Son,” is a compelling read for entrepreneurs, immigrants and those interested in the study of having faith in the face of adversity. “The Baker’s Son” chronicles in a humble manner the journey of an entrepreneur from the Caribbean, armed with big dreams for himself and of coming to the land of dreams itself: America. Working long, hard and grueling hours, he turns practical everyday adversity to his advantage. The book follows Hawthorne as he encounters a certain family of organized crime, during the early days of the business in the Bronx and during the famous “Pattie Crisis” of the early 90s, when his supplier decided to no longer make and deliver the patties while his family was vacationing in the Caribbean. What is interesting is that during pretty much every crisis he faced, Hawthorne turned around his situation through the help and support of his family, faith and community. In fact, the infamous “Pattie Crisis” led to Hawthorne taking control of the manufacturing and distribution of all his products, which has lead to opportunities beyond its 120 franchises, such as finding new avenues for products like grocery stores.
Today, Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery has 125 locations throughout nine U.S. states and employs more than 1,000 people.
Aside from his family and faith, Mr. Hawthorne credits his success to good management skills, hard work and his education at Bronx Community College. Finally, despite the accolades of awards he has received, he remains a humble and gracious man. “The Baker’s Son” is a must-read for entrepreneurs.
The book is dedicated to Hawthorne’s parents. Proceeds go to the Ephraim and Mavis Hawthorne Educational Foundation, which has provided college scholarships to hundreds of students over the past 20 years.