Jane Watkins

In what part of town do you live?
Palmetto Bay

How long have you lived the area?
Oh my gosh. We’ve been in this house for 20 years. I’m originally from the Caribbean. I came up for college and then lived in Atlanta, where I met the guy who is my husband. Then we moved to Albany, Georgia, then Miami, then Kentucky, then back to Atlanta, then back to Miami.

What was it like moving to the US for college?
I went for a couple of years in North Carolina and was so bored. I had a 4.0. So, I transferred to Florida State because, I think Playboy, rated it the number one party school.

Did Florida State live up to your dreams?
It did. It lived up to its reputation. I still graduated with honors, so I had good work-life balance.

Would you tell us a little bit about what you do during the week?
I do marketing for hotels. That has been my career for a long time. I’ve had my own business for 17 years. I love my clients and I love what I do. Also, I’ve volunteered for the Center for Great Apes for a long time and I just joined the board.

I can imagine hotel marketing during COVID is challenging. What types of things are you doing? How are you pivoting?
That is a big question. The beach-front hotels, if they have pivoted, they have done well. For one hotel in New York, we started promoting ‘micro’ weddings and that worked really well. We had one couple who had to cancel their big wedding and ended up just getting married with two other couples attending. We did a social media ad with that video and people loved it. I think it showed couples that they can go through with the ceremony and have a big party next year.

How did you get into PR?
I grew up on an Island and worked in beach shacks, surf shops, and charter boats taking tourists around. I went into marketing after college. When I moved to Miami, there was a PR agency that had clients on the Island that I’m from, and they hired me because I knew how to drive on the left-hand side of the road. They taught me all the basics and it went from there.

What do you like about it?
Travel. I used to work for the country of Trinidad Tobago and that was amazing. The food is incredible, amazing music, and the diversity is mind blowing. And every time you travel or work with a new client, you’re always learning new things, which is a thrill.

You mentioned that you recently joined the board for Center for Great Apes. How did you get involved and would you share a bit about the organization?
My friend Bill, said ‘I have this friend and her yard needs to be cut.’ So, we’re driving and driving and three hours later, we make it to Wauchula, Florida. Turns out, it’s his best friend and she started a sanctuary for great apes. I helped him, but I walked around the sanctuary and got to learn about what she’s done and it’s amazing. She rescues orangutans and chimpanzees from the exotic pet trade, industry, labs, or unsuitable situations. Like you guys, everything they do is with research, dedication, and commitment. And, they have educational programs where people come to learn about what they are doing.

What types of things are people coming to learn?
One thing is that they created these aerial walkways and zoos have come to study how the orangutans and chimpanzees use them so that they can put them into their zoos.

What will your responsibilities entail on the board?
To support the sanctuary and be available for their meetings. Also, I have joined the fundraising committee and the marketing committee.

What was it like coming to the drive through last week?
It is always great. There is always a surprise when you go and it’s an opportunity for happiness. It’s like our social outing to see you and Adena. It’s great to get out of the house and get a great smoothie. And, you always have some kind of special treat. We got the ice cream party packs, and that was a bag of happiness.

What other local restaurants are you visiting?
Anything that chef Niven Patel does. Ghee is our all-time favorite and he just opened Mamey in South Miami. Then, we go every week to Babes Meat and Counter. We just ride our bikes there. Darren toggles between the Bahn Mi and the Cuban sandwich. I toggle between the BLT and the burger and Scout always gets the BLT.

What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
If you go to Black Point Marina, and do not go to the restaurant, but go straight, there’s this little walkway that takes you out along the channel. And, you’re just surrounded by water on both sides.

What for you is a worthy splurge?
I would say the Betsy on South Beach. I love their food, the location, the decor, the vibe. They’re so philanthropic and they support the music and art scene so much. Anytime you go, there’s something going on.

What do you do when it’s raining out?
Come to your drive through.

What community events or groups are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
The Center for Great Apes. They now have 23 orangutans and 31 chimpanzees. Also, there’s Ocean Conservancy – You can clean up any day of the week and earn volunteer hours – it’s perfect for students. And, Blue Scholars Initiative – – It’s is a free educational program with a focus on Marine Science and Marine Biology.

Would you like to share a pitch about your PR business?
No, but I’d love to share a pitch about the Center for Great Apes. Anyone and everyone can get involved with the center and it’s a wonderful sanctuary that they can support. And, Ape Ambassadors will be at the LNB Grovestand Drive Thru this weekend promoting their online art contest (the first five cars with kids get a free art kit).

Is there a question you would like to ask us?
Walt – Are you still doing jewelry?

(W) I have not designed much recently but have a few men’s pieces percolating. Most of my recent design energy has been focused on creating farm machines – which are similar, just much bigger.

Are there words of advice or a challenge that you would like to pose to the community?
We’re all tired but stay focused. The vaccine is coming. As long as we can keep this together, we can keep supporting our restaurants, small shops, and businesses, and keep our friends and family safe. We can do this.

Is there anything I should have asked that I did not?
There is something cool we’ve done to keep busy these days. There’s an online app called Sketchbook Skool. We’ve done some classes with them and we’ve had teachers from New York and Europe. It’s an easy way to take a brain break from the quarantine life.