WORCESTER — City resident Venice Fouchar, owner of One Love Ma Maebelle’s Café at Worcester Public Market, immigrated to the U.S. in 1975 from Jamaica when she was 14.
Foucher came to the U.S. with the help of her mother, who arrived first in the early 1960s to prepare for American life before welcoming her daughter here.
Fouchar lived in New York, where she went to school, started a fashion design business, and later got married and gave birth to a daughter.
In 2001, Fouchar moved to Worcester after coming to visit one of her sisters who lived in the city. She said she immediately fell in love with the “peace and quiet” of the city after living in New York for so long. But she said when she was walking around Worcester, it lacked a “cultural clique.”
In New York, even in the 1980s and ’90s, Fouchar said she could always pop into one of her favorite Jamaican stores to grab a cup of coffee to start her day.
Fashion first love, cooking second
Additionally, Fouchar has always called herself an artist. As a designer, she wanted to find an artistic connection and to create something. Then the idea came to her to bring something Jamaican to Worcester.
Fouchar went to a fashion high school in New York and later attended the Fashion Institute of Technology.
She gave birth to her daughter during her last year in college. After graduation, she started her fashion design business in 1989 called Venice Fouchard Couturiere, making couture — gowns and cocktail dresses that sold in specialty stores and personal customized requests.
But it was in Worcester, while walking home after playing tennis, Foucher frequently passed a vacant storefront at 800 Main St. She said she would always peer through the window and think about the possibility of opening her own business there.
Foucher went on to do just that, not to sell her fashionable dresses, but instead opened a Jamaican restaurant, One Love Café in 2015.
She remained there for several years before moving to the Worcester Public Market as a food vendor. It’s there Fouchar said she’s infused her love for fashion design by displaying artworks on the wall of her coffeehouse café.
For her, cooking can also be considered design, she said. Fouchar said she loves the creative part of cooking in preparing different Jamaican dishes.
“I remember when my mom asked me as a teenager what I wanted to be. I think at the time something came on to the TV (like) how designers are traveling, and in my whole mind was to be able to travel wherever and whenever I want, and I said, ‘Oh, I’ll be a designer,’ ” said Fouchar, who recalled the time when her dream to be a fashion designer popped into her head.
Better education, better opportunity
Though Fouchar immigrated to the U.S. after her mother obtained a work visa sponsored by the owners of the business where she worked, she was excited to be in America and embraced the challenges of moving here.
“I was excited for the change. I was excited to be in America,” she said. “For me, all the change was good. The change was exciting. It had great possibilities and I was excited.”
When Fouchar was 9, her mother was already working in the U.S. Her dad pretty much took care of her during those days in Jamaica, but she understood that her mother was trying to make a better life for her, she said.
She was compelled to work hard for a better education here in the U.S., because she said she did not have similar educational opportunities in Jamaica.
Fouchar has five sisters and three brothers. In her mother’s mind, daughters always had more important roles in the family, Foucher said.
“To really just (provide) better care for our family, my mom decided to migrate here and work hard and put all her girls here so that we can have a better education and the better opportunity,” she said. “I think she succeeded with all of that because all six of us happened to be in things that (are) professional, that we do love and enjoy (our jobs).”
In Jamaica, she said there was no earning potential that compared to the U.S., and for her, the opportunity to pursue the American dream did not come until she arrived in America.
“Here was a better opportunity to get a chance to see it and go on to college, which I’m sure if I was in Jamaica, that (I) probably would not have made it off to college,” she said. “Now that I’m here, I could be anything I wanted to be, thanks to the education that was around me at that point and I probably took advantage of it.”
Opened Jamaican food vendor at Public Market
Fouchar’s new business at the Worcester Public Market is One Love Ma Maebelle’s Café. It’s named after her grandmother, who was a huge inspiration to her.
Fouchar fulfilled the dream of her grandmother when she came to the U.S., she said.
Between 2015 and 2020, Fouchar was doing more catering and events.
When she opened her café at the Worcester Public Market in 2020, she said it is what she had been hoping to do when first coming to Worcester — working in a diverse marketplace that welcomes everyone.
“This is such an exciting time in 2020 when we open up here in the Worcester Public Market, and the whole atmosphere that makes (all of) Worcester come alive, and I love it,” she said.