Working, working, working, Andrew Bellamy walks into the Xaymaca showroom all business with an apology. He’s going from one meeting to the next, which happens to be ours, on the move, even if he’s not physically moving. His phone is attached to his ear and his mind going a mile a minute. See, Bellamy isn’t just anyone, even though he easily presents as an Everyman. He’s the CEO of Xaymaca and Sleek; I Love Soca and SunNation founding partner; Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Mona division; and a father and husband. This means at any given point, Andrew can be pulled any which way, but today, Flair got to take over a chunk of his afternoon.
Playful with his staff, the energy around him is relaxed and accommodating. There is no pretending that they like him. He’s clearly cultivated an environment of ease and you can see that that’s the winning formula for the success of his businesses. Of course, that doesn’t mean Bellamy doesn’t work as hard as he plays, in fact, he probably works harder.
“To put it mildly, I’m a serial entrepreneur,” Bellamy began, and that’s no joke. Ever since his days at The University of the West Indies (UWI), where he went to be a doctor, and left with a degree in management studies, instead, when he realised his passion was in running the hospital rather than in running an operating room. He headed up the cultural exchange that is UWI carnival during his years there, and when he left, the birth of all the soca (and non-soca) events we know and love were developed by him and his closest friends.
His biggest venture, Xaymaca International, wasn’t an overnight endeavour. Bellamy worked hard and learned many lessons on his way to becoming CEO of ‘Jamaica’s biggest band’. There’s no putting it lightly. In this world, there are doers and there are dreamers, and Bellamy is both.
With his faith on his side, and prayer in his arsenal, he doesn’t see himself as having failures but rather lessons. One of his very first lessons was one of his first ventures, where he learned the virtue of being detail-oriented after wading out into the business waters. He’d quit his regular 9-5 to start a business he wasn’t quite ready for, but was fortunate enough to have the support of his family, especially his wife, Corrinne who never waivered and who allowed him to continue to pursue his dreams. “I have to say, a huge part of my success is her support and consideration.”
When choosing a new project, Bellamy lets passion lead the way and follows that up with a solid foundation of discipline, structure, and that follow-through which he cultivates with help of his mentors, his belief system, and his constant need to improve his growth. “I’m at a stage in life where I have to run with my opportunities.” One such project Bellamy embarked on was adding to his portfolio a political career, fuelled by his belief in people, partnership, and his strong desire to serve, which he’s always had. “It falls in line with the vision for my life,” he explained. “Before politics, I was involved with a Rotary Club.” ‘Involved’ is a mild way to say he was a founding member of the Trafalgar – New Heights Rotary Club here in Kingston. “Through these service clubs, you get to interact with these inner-city communities and while they serve a purpose, there’s so much more that can be done,” hence his foray into politics as a G2K executive, where he managed social affairs under then-president Floyd Green, which was already seen as his forte. That service ignited his desire to do even more which then led to his ultimate victory, winning the Mona division seat as councillor where he was raised and even schooled from primary to tertiary.
“It was a huge task,” he began. “I only had maybe seven months to hit the ground and connect with the people to get their support.” In a community he described as being almost equally divided in half, with 50% middle to upper class and 50% inner-city communities, you have to have a certain type of personality that different people with different experiences can relate to. Bellamy had cultivated that balance in his life having lived all his life in that community and applied all that he had learned in his days of service as a party promoter and G2K executive. “There’s a need and a cry from the Jamaican people, especially those in the inner-city communities, for things that are very practical to have a comfortable life,” and though it’s hard to meet everyone’s needs, Bellamy works to benefit the collective in his role.
“I’ve never been given overnight success, everything I’ve done comes from hard work. The hard work of my partners and team.”
Bellamy’s balancing act is something he’s cultivated with carefully planned moves “I think both of my selves (the businessman and the politician) complement each other,” he masterfully concluded. “I learn so much from the politics and the people I interact with that’s made me a much better businessman and knowing how to run a business efficiently has helped me to be more organised politically.”
The hardest part as Xaymaca CEO for this renaissance man is that with the rapid growth of the brand and business, he has more moving parts, i.e., people to manage. Hard, but not impossible, Bellamy ceaselessly develops himself to accommodate all the different personalities that surround him by “listening more and talking less”, challenging himself to be a better leader. Bellamy, the solutions guy, who prides himself on problem-solving, has found the ultimate way to corral his team and lead them as one unit. He even develops himself via his literature, taking the time to read a Business Review article or two. “I take time to read, the last two books I read, that really moved me, were Leaders Eat Last and Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It’.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was this juggernaut of a brand. “I’ve never been given overnight success, everything I’ve done comes from hard work. The hard work of my partners and team,” shared Bellamy. “I feel social media has brainwashed so many people, we fail to remember that if you wanted that A in school you had to work for it. That Usain Bolt had to train harder to be who he is,” he lamented. “People only see the glory but forget the hard work behind it and I don’t know a successful person who didn’t sacrifice, who didn’t have discipline, who didn’t work hard.” While he conceded that some people may have immediate success, that shouldn’t be everyone’s expectation. “I surround myself with progressive, ambitious people. You’d be amazed by the things you can learn.”
When he’s not running businesses and being a man of the people, he’s a family man who makes time for his wife and children when he can, and most important, himself, taking the time to care for his health. Last year, Bellamy undertook another feat, CrossFit. “Just making sure the heart is pumping and the joints are working,” he joked, flexing his arm. “It’s nothing too crazy. Let’s just say I was below beginner when I started.” He laughed easily teasing himself but showing how even the busiest guy needed to take the time to take care of his health. “I made an effort to be more active.” And when he needs time to unwind, he unplugs. “I can just be at home on the couch, in the car, just sitting and not thinking about anything.” Just enough to refocus. “I try to make time for my children every day, even if it’s just an hour. I get to do the fun stuff; my wife’s the brains.”
Bellamy leaned back and touched his hand to cheek and smiled, “It’s so funny, I remember I would tease my uncle who was a successful vet who would work seven days a week, that he couldn’t be working that hard in life”. He laughed easily and blamed it on the ignorance of his youth, “And look at me, I even carried it to a new level”.
Story by Danik Frazer