Debbie Kumoi: Financial Scholarship Advisor and Entrepreneur
Written by: Priya Balakumar
Debbie Kumoi is the owner and creative mind behind Party with Kumoi. She is the definition of a Brown Girl Boss, as she continues to educate and give back to the community and embrace the melting pot of culture and traditions of the Caribbean.
Debbie herself comes from a very interesting and diverse background, her mother is Chinese Jamaican and Spanish and her father is Indo-Trinidadian and Indian. She was even able to find out that her father’s mother is from New Delhi, India. As Caribbean women, our roots run deep and far across the globe. Debbie started identifying as an Indo-Caribbean woman when she was around 30 years old, as this is when she started to ask her father more questions about his mother’s side of the family. She wanted to ensure she learned about her history so she could pass down this information to her daughters.
When asked about what being Indo-Caribbean means to her, Debbie said, “I have the best part of both worlds, two very colourful dynamic cultures, that have influenced society on so many different levels and now I share this with my daughters.”
Similar to the obstacles that many Indo-Caribbean woman have faced in their employment journeys, Debbie faced barriers when it came to “fitting in. She said, “The VPs and Managers would not recognize me for my skills and told me that I did not look the part for the role that I would apply for."
"I have asked what is the image that you're looking for, and they would either say “not you” or “something more upscale.”
Many women from our community face similar barriers and have to put in extra work to prove their worth. Debbie’s motivation stems from wanting to empower her twin daughters and make sure that they are set up for success. She aims to educate the younger generation on their roots and history.
Debbie started her entrepreneurial journey when she launched her business Party with Kumoi. She filled a void in the market by making and selling personalized gift baskets, clothing, dishes and accessories.
“I have always loved giving gifts to people and recently discovered that I love creating personalized gifts for family and friends and now I have extended this to everyone. We create personalized shirts, mugs, baskets, wine glasses and much more. The purpose of creating these gifts is to help the busy person that needs a gift for their milestone moments!”
Debbie is a continuous advocate for pushing the boundaries when it comes to the accomplishment of Indo-Caribbean women.
Starting your own business is difficult, but with the right determination, passion and hard work, anything is possible.
“My advice would be never think you can’t do something and push through the negative voice in your head that is saying you can’t. Keep practising your talent and always look to improve with joy. I have learned that I will never be the girl some people think I need to be. I have to be the woman God wants me to be and bless others with my gifts and talents. As for my business, always look to improve and do everything from your heart.”
Debbie is also heavily involved in giving back to and educating the Indo-Caribbean community— starting at home with her own 16 year old twin daughters. She has been a Sunday School teacher for over six years and participates in her church Cultural night.
Debbie takes this opportunity to share her experiences, and mix of cultures with students from many different backgrounds.
Debbie's daughters, Mia and Faith Kumoi began their own non-profit organization to help others. After watching their grandparents battle cancer, Mia and Faith decided that they wanted to do something to make a difference. This inspired them to want to bring light into the lives of others struggling with cancer and their families. The launch of this organization will hopefully change the lives of others and leave a legacy for the girls to lead as they get older.
Prior to Covid, Debbie was also getting involved in a community speaker series with various vendors from the Indo-Caribbean community. From having a full time job to running her own business, Debbie is a Brown Girl Boss who is unapologetically herself. We can’t wait to see how she continues to build up our younger generation of women in the Indo-Caribbean community through networking events, workshops and speaker events.
The last piece of advice that Debbie left us with was “I would like to ensure that women of all ages are proud of their Indo-Caribbean culture and never subject themselves to the approval of societies standards— we are beautiful and unique and specially made. “