Levi Roots. Reggae Reggae Sauce. So good he named it twice….
The funny thing is that for many of you that have not even tried one of Levi’s Raggae Raggae products, you may have been accustomed to the song that accompanies the brand. By appearing on The Apprentice, Levi was able to use the strength of the Reggae Reggae song to sell a brand. Up there with ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ as a ‘song that sells’, we wanted to get behind the song and chat to the man himself and find out a little bit about where the ‘Root’ of the story comes from, and his time singing with Bob Marley and singing for Nelson Mandela…
Q/ Many of our readers might not know too much about your life before Levi Roots, so would you mind telling us a little about yourself. And Bob Marley?!!
I was born in Content, a small village in Jamaica where I lived with my Grandparents. Miriam, my Grandmother was an inspirational woman who taught me so much, as did my Grandfather. I moved to the UK when I was 11 and lived in Brixton with my parents and siblings. I got into music at a young age; music has always been my first love. I was involved with the Coxsone Sound System in the ’70s which is around the time that I met Bob Marley. We played football together in Battersea Park every Sunday. Those were great days!
Q/ Tell me about the recipes, its a family sauce, which is where a lot of good tastes come from. How did you start selling the sauce?
I started selling the sauce at the Notting Hill Carnival and when I realised how popular it was, I also began selling it in my local community, riding around on my bike! The combination of music and the tasty sauce, built up a following and I was approached to go on Dragon’s Den in 2007. The rest is history!
Q/ Like many of us, its not always been the best of times, would you mind telling us about how you managed to motivate yourself to become the business inspiration you are today and where that motivation came from.
My motivation comes from my Grandmother and my Mother. My Grandmother taught me how to cook and my Mother taught me to read and write. I always credit my success to them and I seek comfort in the Bible when I am in need of guidance or inspiration.
Q/ Talk of, and motivation for Entrepreneurial start ups seems to be all the rage at the moment. Whats your impression of the support and encouragement that exists within the UK to support new Entrepreneurs?
There is a lot of help and support available to anyone who is willing to use it to the full potential. You can find so much information on the internet but more needs to be done to encourage people to take advantage of it. The information is freely available but people are scared and need guidance because there is so much information out there, and they don’t know where to start.
Q/ It was Global Entrepreneurship Week, a couple of weeks back; What would be your top tips for someone right now who has a business idea, but no idea what to do about it?
As I have said, there is a lot of information available on the internet which gives you step by step advice on how to see an idea through to development. I touch on a lot of this in my book (You Can Get it if You Really Want) but the key thing is to believe in yourself and have passion. Without passion, you won’t make it through the hard times which are inevitable in business.
Q/ Do you involve yourself in motivating the next generation of creators and inventors?
I certainly do. I regularly give talks at schools, colleges and universities where I try and motivate students and budding entrepreneurs, using my experiences as an example and encouraging them to do it for themselves.
Q/ You are now stocking a range of Reggae Reggae products from sauces to snacks, and now I hear that you have just agreed to partner up with Ginsters to create Caribbean flavoured pasties! Even after the immediate success of your appearance on Dragon’s Den, could you have imagined the business growth you have had?
I always believed in myself and my product. I knew it would be successful but I hadn’t anticipated just how successful it would become.
Q/ Music has always been paramount in your life, but many of our readers will not realise that the Reggae Reggae song is not your only musical achievement! Nominated for a MOBO and Nelson Mandela spring to mind, tell us more.
I was nominated for a MOBO in 1998 which was an amazing achievement. I had been a recording artist for many years and it was great to be recognised for the work I had done. I met Nelson Mandella at an event in Brixton in 1992. A security guard recognised me and asked me to sing Happy Birthday to Mr Mandella and I presented him with a cake. That was an incredible day, and one which I will never forget. My last album, Red Hot, was released in 2009 and I’m currently working on a new album due out next year.
Q/ And whats next for Levi and Reggae Raggae?
Lots of things! We have an exciting year ahead, developing new products and expanding the range; we launched the sauces in Jamaica earlier this year and hope to take it to the rest of the world soon! I am working on a new album and have a number of projects in the pipeline to do with the Olympics.
Lord ha’ Mercy!
Thank you for Levi Roots for taking the time to speak to TheEmployable…