'The name Higgler means travelling around selling items. Originating in Jamaica and empowering locals in times of slavery, we believe it fits our ethos perfectly.'
But Higgler isn't the only one with Jamaican roots, being half Jamaican I had the
pleasure to spend a few months in the magical country, filling myself with ackee and saltfish, banana fritters and soaking up my Nannie's love.
As I learnt to cook fried fish, Nannie told me stories of her childhood where she would pull up weeds with her friends to use as hair for a doll. When I asked what she
used as a head she looked at me baffled and laughed. 'Why does it need a head?' she said. She always knows how to make me smile, but little stories like this also remind me just how different life can be depending on the country that you’re born in.
When she was a young child, she was a Higgler of sorts herself. Growing up in the countryside she would grow food in the garden, and then venture to the market to trade or swap it for other things the family needed. Even now, every morning at the crack of dawn she is in her field, machete in tow.
When I did a little more digging, I found out that Higglers were the backbone of Jamaican society dating back to times of slavery. Slave masters realised it was cheaper for the slaves to grow their own food, but many of them would grow enough to also feed their own families and to sell/barter with other people on the island.
Markets began to develop in main port towns on Sundays to avoid disrupting the work on the estate. This was a great opportunity for slaves as they had the chance to socialise which was otherwise forbidden. It was here that information on resistance movements were discussed.
Initially slaves were allowed to go to the market for the benefit of their masters, but over the years as the markets expanded they began to become a threat to white tradesmen. Therefore, new laws were brought in place to make it difficult to get a trading license and eventually to trade on a Sunday at all.
Post emancipation, the number of Higglers on the island continued to increase dramatically as the newly freed people had experience in Higgling and farming.
The Higgler profession and market trading played a big part in the country’s eventual freedom, as it provided a platform for them to earn money. The market was where information on the resistance movements spread, and also housed a captive audience for missionaries to spread the word of Christianity. This became a crucial part of the ex-slaves lives as they struggled against economic oppression.
Even now being a Higgler is still a thriving business in Jamaica, one which is actually dominated by women.