Fashion Revolution Week 2017

We are in the midst of Fashion Revolution Week - a time set apart for creators and consumers to join together and use their voices to call for greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry. Each year, this week begins on April 24th, the same day as the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh where 1,134 people lost their lives.

The reality is that today's fashion industry says abuse of people and abuse of environment is okay because the demand for transparency on the other side of the label is too quiet to be heard in comparison to the demand for fast + cheap. Searching for cost savings is not a bad thing; it can be a burdensome undertaking to clothe and support ourselves and our families. The "bad" comes when the cost of savings comes at the cost of another's ability to survive and to be free. We believe that is too high a cost to pay. 

We began Haiti Design Co because we believe in the beauty and dignity that exist in an honorable business transaction. The consumer's necessity to clothe themselves with goods they love and the creator's passion to make new, beautiful things should be an opportunity that connects us, not a reality that divides us. And while there is much work to be done to move the needle, there is also so much hope for the future. Evidence can be found in the growth surrounding the conversation of ethical fashion: lives lost are becoming lives honored as a rising number of conscious consumers and conscious brands dedicate themselves to business that brings life and meaning. 

We are so excited to participate in the movement this week by highlighting the teams behind our products and the ethical fashion partners that support those teams. Our desire is to add light and hope to the fashion industry. Below are some photo from this week's campaign.  

You can continue to follow along this week on our Instagram and at Fashion Revolution's Instagram. And we invite you to join the movement by posting a photo of your favorite brand's label with the question #whomademyclothes? 

Mesi zanmi for your consistent love & support ❤️  Men anpil chay pa lou - many hands make the load light. 

Check out this insightful post from Anuschka Rees about 5 Ways to Build a More Ethical Closet! (read here) First and foremost, take care of what you already have. And if you do buy, buy pieces you truly love and from brands you respect. Building an ethical closet is something you can begin today.

Check out this insightful post from Anuschka Rees about 5 Ways to Build a More Ethical Closet! (read here) First and foremost, take care of what you already have. And if you do buy, buy pieces you truly love and from brands you respect. Building an ethical closet is something you can begin today.

Haiti Highlight: Jacmel

Our sweet Caribbean island is home to diverse landscapes and rich beauty, and while we love that our work and home life is centered in the vibrant city of Port au Prince, there is nothing else like a quick beach getaway. That's where the lovely Jacmel comes in.

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Located in the Southern part of the island, Jacmel is an old port town originally founded by the Spanish, but repopulated by the French. The French influence is heavy, but most heavily seen in the grand colonial architecture. There are buildings centuries old complete with large pillars, wrought-iron gates, spiral staircases, and intricate designs tiled across the floor.

The colors are just as rich as the history with pops of blues and greens spread across the town. The photo below is from the iconic Hotel Florita, known for its classic gingerbread style architecture and delicious rhum sours. 

Beyond its beautiful beaches and preserved architecture, Jacmel has a vibrant arts scene and serves as one of Haiti's most culturally-rich hubs for handmade goods. This especially come to life every year in Carnival season. In February, our team not only got to experience the colorful parade, but we were also able to visit some of our partner artisans, our woodworking team! Boss Jonas and his team live in the mountains and craft beautiful wood pieces completely by hand. 

Lastly, Jacmel is home to Bassin Bleu, a series of 3 deep natural pools tucked away in the mountains. Accessible only by a guided hike through lush mountain greens, the pools are a deep, mesmerizing teal. You can spend the afternoon jumping, diving, and swimming with the mermaids. 

Oh and did we mention the sunsets?

Bonjour, Andre!

Meet Andre, one of the featured artisans in the SPRING 2017 Maker's Box! At HDC, we train and employ artisans with the skills and resources they need to be successful both professionally and personally. We work as a collective of artisans - with 3 in-house teams and 4 partner teams from the community that work as part of our Artisan Incubator Program. Andre was one of our first partner artisans, and in terms of our HDC family mentality, we like to think of him as our wise father figure who has a rich depth of knowledge and expertise to share with us in our efforts to create quality work, quality goods, and quality relationships.

As a highly valued member of our HDC family, we want to take a moment to share Andre's story with you!

Andre has been crafting ethically-gathered horn and bone for over 34 years. He runs an artisan cooperative in Port au Prince that trains and employs over 30 men from the community. He is originally from Jacmel, a beautiful beach town a few hours south of the city, but moved with his uncle at the age of 14. His uncle had been working with horn and bone for years when he taught Andre the craft. Andre was quick to pick it up and began expanding on the skills his uncle taught him in his hours between school. Over time, he grew to have his own business and line of products.

However, the earthquake in 2011 destroyed his original shop. With some support, he was able to build a new shop that has since grown to be a large artisan cooperative where Andre and his team create products for retailers to sell across the world.

One of the most inspiring and humbling things about Andre is his heart to empower others. He is community-minded and views his knowledge and his workshop as something beyond just himself. He is passionate about training a new generation of leaders with the skills they need to be independent entrepreneurs, claiming that his space is "a place for all the people." Their work is a beautiful showcase of the talents and designs inherent to the people of Haiti, and they seek to use their products to elevate this beautiful island in the minds and hearts of people around the globe. A few of the products we work with Andre to create are the much loved horn bangles + hoops, demi circle + drop pendant necklaces, and the horn bowls + dishes. 

Andre is featured in this season's Maker's Box alongside our in-house leather team. You can learn more about him and the leather team, as well as receive a thoughtfully curated collection of their products in the SPRING 2017 MAKER'S BOX (order deadline for spring is April 1st). Boxes are available for individual purchase or year-long subscriptions. Each season, we will release a new box highlighting our different in-house and partner artisan teams, giving you a meaningful look into the process, people, and products behind each unique craft!

Bon Kanaval!

We are in the midst of Carnival season here in Haiti! A festive time leading up to Mardi Gras, Carnival is when bands release new music and the streets are filled with colorful costumes, paper mache masks, food vendors, and big parades. 

Another tradition unique to Haiti is a celebration called "Rara." Rara features bands of people dressed as costumed characters playing a variety of home-made instruments. You can see these celebrations lining the streets in Port-au-Prince as well as in surrounding cities throughout the country. 

Overall, Carnival is a joyous time of celebration where people band together to enjoy music, food, and playful performances satirizing the current political environment. Haiti is home to one of the largest Carnival seasons in the Caribbean and North and South America, making it a popular time for travelers to visit and join in the festivities! 

Thoughts from our Founder with Women@Forbes

Recently I had the chance to share some of my honest thoughts on the orphan cycle in Haiti, the importance of ethical fashion, and our vision at Haiti Design Co with the lovely Anushay Hossain at Forbes. Anushay focuses on women entrepreneurs starting social business for good through the platform "Women@Forbes".  I believe we all have purchasing power that can be used for good, and a voice to speak up about what real help and sustainable development can look like. I'm so honored I was able to share a bit of my perspective on these issues through what we have seen first hand on a daily basis in Haiti. Please click on the link below to check out the article and let us know your thoughts.

With love from Haiti,

-Chandler

"Their Well-Being Is Our Well-Being"

Our hearts have been very heavy with the tragedy happening in the southern regions of Haiti after Hurricane Matthew stormed through. With the support of your donations and donations from our local Haitian community, Fabienne Deplat, our Director of Operations, and members from her church were able to go to the Les Cayes area of Haiti and provide a distribution of necessity kits. This is Fabienne's personal account of her trip. 

Fabienne preparing supplies for the trip

Fabienne preparing supplies for the trip

I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to go help in the city of Les Cayes, specifically in a place called Saint Jean. I tried to prepare my heart and mind ahead of time, I knew the trip would not be easy.
After several days of preparation, a team from my church and I left Port au Prince.  We sat for 3 hours in heavy rain. After several more hours of waiting in a traffic jam, we took the highway. We were warned ahead of time of the robbery that was happening to large trucks headed to the south full of supplies. It was dark and late, but contrary to what was said, or by the grace of God, no one attacked the car. We safely arrived in the space we were to sleep and had to unload the truck to safely store the supplies away. People in the area already suspected that we had come to help and had supplies with us. We settled in, ate some food, and began preparing the kits for the children first. We finished our preparation that night around 1 am. 
Bags of rice separated for the necessity kits 

Bags of rice separated for the necessity kits 

Little girls from the church helping the team load everything up 

Little girls from the church helping the team load everything up 

We awoke very early the next morning, eagerly ready to begin the day and achieve our goal. After several calls and waiting, another truck arrived with policemen to accompany us on the journey to Saint Jean.
On the road we began to see the extent of damage. Almost all of the trees were destroyed and the ones remaining were bare. The schools and churches were left roofless, and there were almost no houses to be seen. After over an hour drive we arrived to Saint Jean to begin the distribution. 
A church along the road that lost its roof 

A church along the road that lost its roof 

Our team had prepared 250 small voucher cards. Our plan was to distribute the voucher cards to people first and they would then take the voucher to the location to pick up the necessity kits. Unfortunately there was a large crowd waiting already. We decided for our safety to go to the police station to have police assist us in distributing the vouchers. With the large volume of people in the crowd, we decided we must prioritize pregnant women, the elderly, and then women with children.  
It was so hard for me to see so many hands extended out asking me for the card. I had to decide so quickly who I would give the cards to. 
The crowd waiting for voucher cards 

The crowd waiting for voucher cards 

Then distribution begin. We immediately saw the packages would not be enough, there were too many people. So we started dividing the packages into two to be able to reach more people. 

Distribution from the truck 

Distribution from the truck 

The day was long and tiring, but the fact of seeing so many people just like me in such misery was even harder. I do not know what tomorrow will bring for them, because all their resources are destroyed, banana trees and coconut trees. Food kits and bags of water will not come every day and will eventually run out.
The team separating the bags to create more kits 

The team separating the bags to create more kits 

Clothing donated from the church community 

Clothing donated from the church community 

I left the Saint Jean community with a troubled heart. As we were driving away it was still raining on these people, people who had just lost everything. What will these people do once the distribution stops? Maybe come to Port au Prince, but the misery here is already hard.
For me the experience was good, but my heart is heavy thinking of the future, their future. I strongly encourage Haitian residents of areas that were not affected to contribute what they can to these people. We can collect what we have, we can plant trees, we can help them stand again because their well-being, is our well-being.
I encourage our friends abroad to continue supporting organizations on-ground that are bringing relief. I encourage our customers to keep purchasing from Haiti because when you buy from Haiti you’re supporting us. Purchasing from Haiti allows those with jobs to be able to send money and help to their family and friends that are suffering in the south. Your purchases from Haiti allow us to support one another.
Finally I must say that I am grateful because in my lifetime 2 natural disasters have hit my country. I tell God thank you  that they have not hit me directly. It is also motivates me to go and see these people. I want to thank all of those who contributed in one way or another allowing us to go and help.  Thank you to those abroad that contributed money for us to buy what was needed. Thank you to my church community for giving money, clothes, and food. And thank you to those who pray for us and members of our team to stay strong and determined.
The team of volunteers that facilitated the distribution 

The team of volunteers that facilitated the distribution 

The road of relief, rebuilding, and recovery is a long and complicated one. We thank you for standing with us and our Haitian community during this time of suffering for many! At Haiti Design Co we have decided to support families suffering in three main areas-

Please click on the photo above to learn more and donate to area of your choice. And for our Haitian community, kenbe fèm! Nap kanpe ak ou!


Je remercie le Seigneur de m’avoir donné la possibilité d’aller faire  une distribution dans la ville des Cayes, plus précisément dans une localité appelée Saint Jean du Sud. Après plusieurs jours de préparatifs, une équipe de mon eglise et moi ont laissé Port- au - Prince a 3 Heures de l'après midi, sous une forte pluie. Après plusieurs heures d’attentes dans une embouteillage, on a pris la route nationale. Contrairement à ce que l’on  disait, ou je dois dire merci a  Dieu, personne n’a attaqué la voiture, bien qu’il était déjà très tard.  On est arrivé dans l'espace on l’on devait dormir a 9hrs du soir.

Et la il fallait décharger le camion et mettre tous les paquets en sécurité parce que déjà les gens de la zone suspectait qu’on apportait de l’aide. Apres le debarquement , tout le monde a ete prendre un bain, manger et finalement faire des petits paquets pour les enfants. Le lendemain très tôt on s’est réveillé, prêt à atteindre notre objectif. Après plusieurs appels, finalement un autre camion est venu accompagné de quelques policiers et la encore on devait embarque ce camion et prendre la route pour la destination de Saint Jean.Sur la route on allait commencer à constater l’ampleur des dégâts, il y a presque pas d’arbres au du moins ce qui en restait n’avait pas de fleurs ou de branches. Les écoles, les églises sans toiture, il y avait presque pas de maisons. Après une heure de route on est arrivé à Saint Jean pour la faire la distribution. Notre équipe avait préparé des cartes pour  250 personnes mais malheureusement c’etait une foule qui nous attendait pas 250 personnes. Après un temps nous avons décidé d’aller remettre les cartes au commissariat accompagné de policiers bien entendu. Vu l'immensité de la foule, on a priorisé les femmes enceintes, les vieillards et les femmes. C'était très dure de voir tous ses mains allongé devant moi  et décider dans un peu de temps a qui donner la carte. Puis on  a commence la distribution, evidemment on a du diviser les paquets en deux pour pouvoir donner a un maximun de personnes. Cette journée a été longue , et fatigante mais le fait de voir des gens  comme moi dans une telle misère était encore plus dure. Je ne sais ce que demain sera fait pour eux, parce que toutes leurs ressources sont détruites, les bananiers les cocotiers. Les kits alimentaires et les sachets d’eau ne viendront pas tous les jours et vont être cesse sou peu.J’ai laissé la communauté de Saint Jean avec le coeur en peine , parce qu’il pleuvait encore….

Que vont faire ces gens quand il plus de distribution, venir à Port au Prince peut être venir a Port -au Prince où il y a déjà de la misere. Pour moi l'expérience a été bonne mais mon coeur est lourd en pensant à l’avenir, à leur avenir. J’encourage les habitants des zones qui ne sont pas touchés a contribué à leur niveau, nous pouvons collecter ce que nous avons, nous pouvons planter des arbres, nous pouvons les aider à relever, parce que leur bien être , est aussi notre bien être.


Pour terminer je dois dire que je suis reconnaissante parce que de mon vivant 2 catastrophes naturels ont touché mon pays et Dieu merci j’ai pas été atteint directement. C’est qui m’a motivé d'ailleurs d’aller voir ces gens. Je tiens à remercier  tout ceux qui ont  contribué d’une manière ou d’une autre pour cette visite soit en donnant de l’argent, des habits, de la nourriture , ceux qui ont pries pour nous, et les membres de notre équipe se sont montrés forts et déterminés.   

Support Recovery, Choose Haitian Made

As many of you know, the damage from Hurricane Matthew has been devastating for many communities in the southern region of Haiti. Relief efforts are underway and many wonderful organizations are working hard to prevent the spread of cholera, alleviate hunger, and provide clean water and shelter during this time. The road to recovery is going to be a long one. At this time we feel it is vital to remember to give with discretion and think of the long term impact we will have on communities. The Haitian economy is going to be one of the biggest keys to supporting recovery. When you invest in job creation, you're investing in opportunity for people and families to provide for themselves. Job creation provides stability. Stability for families means savings, education, health care, and the opportunity to be prepared for the future. 

This holiday season millions of dollars will be spent on gifts for family and friends. We urge you to use your purchasing power to support the Haitian economy by buying Haitian made products. This will directly impact businesses and families in Haiti.

Plus, Haiti produces some of the most beautiful and unique artisan made products in the world.

Here are a few of our favorite 100% Haitian made brands...

1. FAIT LA FORCE

1. FAIT LA FORCE

  2. 2nd STORY GOODS

 

2. 2nd STORY GOODS

3. HAITI'S JEWELS

3. HAITI'S JEWELS

5. PASCALE THEARD CREATIONS

5. PASCALE THEARD CREATIONS

4. DEUX MAINS

4. DEUX MAINS

6. PAPILLON ENTERPRISE

6. PAPILLON ENTERPRISE

We also love....

Atelier Calla    .    Sa Voix    .   PeaceCYLCE    .     Artisan Business Network    .    Ayiti Natives

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to Haiti!

Much love,

-the HDC team

 

Hurricane Matthew Aftermath

Most of you have heard news and reports of Hurricane Matthew, which poured over the Caribbean this week and is currently headed up the east coast. The city where Haiti Design Co-op is located, Port-au-Prince, was generally spared from the damages of the wind and rain, but the southern part of our precious island was not as fortunate.

The full extent of the damage is not yet clear, but it is clear that there has been agricultural devastation, catastrophic property damage, as well as loss of life throughout the southern region of Haiti. There are many in the southern peninsula that have lost investments that they had poured time and money into such as gardens and livestock. These are effects that might not be the first thing to cross our minds, but have a long lasting impact on the people in the region. For many they have lost their means of feeding their families or making any money at all. Along side these losses, Haiti, which is no stranger to Cholera and other waterborne diseases, is now at risk for a resurgence of illnesses again as flood waters have contaminated water sources, and many do not have the means or access to clean drinking water. These problems alone, the loss of gardens, and restricted access to safe water, could potentially be more devastating for Haiti than the initial impact of the storm. 

To make things worse, much of the structural damage incurred from the storm includes bridges and roadways to the main cities in need in the southern region. This has put a large damper on immediate disaster response efforts as first responders are relying on mostly aviation organizations to bring supplies and manpower to the affected areas. There are some great organizations doing this work- Mission Aviation Fellowship, Missionary Flights International, and Hero Dispatch to name a few- but large-scale aid influx has the potential to be bottlenecked until road conditions improve. 

When approaching relief efforts, we need to be very cognizant of how to prevent more loss in the wake of disaster. Starvation, cholera, and other waterborne disease are real and imminent threats in the aftermath of a natural disaster here in Haiti that need to be addressed promptly

Bridge collapse over a flooded river and property damage in Port Salut.   Photo by Michael Broyles of M.A.F.

Bridge collapse over a flooded river and property damage in Port Salut.   Photo by Michael Broyles of M.A.F.

It is vital that relief and aid efforts do not further damage the local Haitian economy. Our in-house development committee, HDC in Action, has been working to assess the needs of those within our workshop & their families. In order to support local economy during this tragic time, we will be putting together necessity boxes for those impacted most with items purchased from the local market, as well as fundraising for rebuilding efforts for specific families we know suffered the loss of their homes during the storm. There are some areas where we are still waiting for more information on the full extent of the damage, but we do know the death toll has been steadily rising each day. We are doing our best to support our employees and their families during this time, and also wisely invest donations in ways that we believe provide immediate relief, but will be beneficial for the families in the long run. If you would like to join us in supporting the families of our employees that were impacted from this tragic storm, you can donate here-

Donate

We are so thankful for the support we’ve received for one of our valued team members, Manno and his family so far! We are overjoyed that we will be able to contribute to rebuilding a home for his family! Additionally, there are thousands more people in identical situations as his. There is much work to be done. We wanted to take the opportunity to direct you to people and organizations who are based in Haiti and currently working on relief efforts in the South. These people know how to administer aid respectfully, they know the language, and do their best to support Haiti in the face of disaster.

Haiti One- This organization is delivering supplies to organizations for distribution in Les Cayes (one of the cities hit hardest).
Mission Aviation Fellowship- MAF is one of the few organization that is able to reach many areas in the South because of bridge destruction. There are a few small airports open in the area, where MAF is able to bring in supplies. They have started to bring in medical teams and other relief support as well.

Thank you so much for loving Haiti with us and standing alongside us during this time.

With gratitude,

-The HDC team

 

 

Haitian Dominoes

Dekabès!

a Haitian Creole expression meaning a double win in dominoes or the lottery

Pèdi // Chen

When you lose in Haitian dominoes you must put clothes pins on your face or arms for the remainder of the game. As a joke, you also are called "Chen", meaning "dog" for the rest of the game. Number of clothes pin is decided ahead of time by everyone playing. If you do not have clothes pins, you can also hold a small tree branch in your mouth or hold a cinder block. 

All Photography is from the talented (and super fun) Kelsey Cherry. 

Ayiti Cheri!

Mona-isms

Meet Madam Mona, Haiti Design Co-op's very own momma

Never one to hold back her unsolicited advice, we have all learned that Mona knows best. She is a kind, wise and loving mother hen always looking out for the needs of those around her. Mona is always dressed in her Sunday best, makes a mean batch of Haitian pickles (spicy slaw), and in her down time can be found perusing Facebook and chatting on WhatsApp.

 Here are a few important pieces of advice that Mona has given us throughout the years:

  1. Yoga gives you colds. 
  2. If you walk on wet floors when barefoot, lady cramps will be worse. 
  3. If you drink a lot of cold water, lady cramps will be worse. 
  4. If you are a runner, your chances of bearing a child will decrease. 
  5. Mangos make your neck hurt. 
  6. Rats will eat your feet at night if you don't shut your door. 
  7. Don't fall in love with a lazy boy.
  8. If you treat everyone with respect, you'll find people that will protect you on the streets.
  9. To raise a child well, you need a good entourage around them. 
  10. If you truly love someone your heart knows it.

Always keeping us on our feet and in check, we think that everyone should have a Mona in their life. So much love for this woman from the HDC team. 

 

Right here, right now

Some of our favorites from the summer 2016 collection. Available right here, right now. 

Many Hands in Action

It is with much excitement that we get to introduce you to Haiti Design Co-op's own, in-house, community development committee,

also known as- HDC IN ACTION

If you have spent any time around the Haiti Design Co-op family you have probably heard us use the creole phrase, ‘men anpil, chay pa lou.’ In english it means many hands make the load light, and it is our number one mantra in day to day operations. HDC IN ACTION is the embodiment of that phrase through and through.

HDC IN ACTION consists of different leaders from around the workshop, some are managers, and some are part of our workshop family that want to do their part in lifting up the people around them. The committee began organically as a way to plan events and parties, and has grown into a platform for social change in our community. We truly value the input of our staff, and they have become the driving instigator for a lot of our social initiatives. When deciding on a logo for the committee, the group chose a banana leaf in hands. They said this represents the spirit of Haiti Design Co-op, their culture, and country being in their hands. Currently they are working towards helping plan a community garden and green project for HDC known as The Banana Leaf Initiative (more exciting info to come!), as well as planning personal growth seminars such as mental health awareness and personal financial training.  The committee is working on planning community clean up days, and cultural education days where they can explore and learn more about different parts of the gorgeous island nation. 

HDC IN ACTION VISION STATEMENT

HDC IN ACTION exists to work together to support the community in all we do. We strive to create initiatives to improve well-being, protect the environment and the culture, and encourage personal growth. We work to teach individuals that change starts from within, and to give them the resources and opportunities to take that change to their communities. We are role models for our co-workers, families, community, and country. We strive to encourage individuals to find their purpose and join the movement to uplift and sustain our lives and our country. 

MEET THE TEAM

Adelson - "I used to participate in my social committee to be an example at church. I am on the committee because it is a good thing and helping to fulfill the big dream."

Adelson - "I used to participate in my social committee to be an example at church. I am on the committee because it is a good thing and helping to fulfill the big dream."

Darline - "I am happy because I like working on a team and to learn new things from the committee."

Darline - "I am happy because I like working on a team and to learn new things from the committee."

Gerald - "Even though I am shy, the committee helps me to put myself out there when they have events."

Gerald - "Even though I am shy, the committee helps me to put myself out there when they have events."

Mano - "I like being on the committee because we all work together. I am more serious, and would not be here if it wasn't a good thing. And the committee helps me to relax and be included."

Mano - "I like being on the committee because we all work together. I am more serious, and would not be here if it wasn't a good thing. And the committee helps me to relax and be included."

Cassan - "It feels good to be on the committee and each time we have a meeting together, it makes me feel happy to be a part of it." *Our self proclaimed gather-er / rally-er of people and making sure that everyone is included*

Cassan - "It feels good to be on the committee and each time we have a meeting together, it makes me feel happy to be a part of it." *Our self proclaimed gather-er / rally-er of people and making sure that everyone is included*

Guerdy - (President) - "I like to be working. I spend a lot of time here for work and helping with the committee. I am encouraged to be here even when it is a lot of work because it is a good thing for everyone. I want the committee to be long lasting and building for the future to follow in our example."

Guerdy - (President) - "I like to be working. I spend a lot of time here for work and helping with the committee. I am encouraged to be here even when it is a lot of work because it is a good thing for everyone. I want the committee to be long lasting and building for the future to follow in our example."

Widlene - "I am known as 'pa ka pa la" (paraphrased, the social butterfly and involved in everything). I like social activities, and specifically the cooking side. The jewelry ladies chose me to be on the committee and I am happy because I want to be a good representation for them."

Widlene - "I am known as 'pa ka pa la" (paraphrased, the social butterfly and involved in everything). I like social activities, and specifically the cooking side. The jewelry ladies chose me to be on the committee and I am happy because I want to be a good representation for them."

Jerry - "HDC in action has changed a lot of things in me. I like it because the projects are big. HDC in action will go far, it will impact our community. It changed me because I participate in the programs. We do this because we love it, and it is something that helps us all. Little by little we have more ideas that bring us together." 

Jerry - "HDC in action has changed a lot of things in me. I like it because the projects are big. HDC in action will go far, it will impact our community. It changed me because I participate in the programs. We do this because we love it, and it is something that helps us all. Little by little we have more ideas that bring us together." 

Faby - "I enjoy being on the committee because it gives me the chance to get to know my coworkers better."

Faby - "I enjoy being on the committee because it gives me the chance to get to know my coworkers better."

Fabienne - "I like being on the committee because I am planning things that are outside of my everyday job. It is something that is for the country, and our community and I am participating in things that are helping my people in a social way, in a different way. The investment I make in my people is not something that I can be paid for and that is why i take pride in it. I am proud to do it, it makes me more invested in Haiti Design Co-op because it is different than what businesses usually do." 

Fabienne - "I like being on the committee because I am planning things that are outside of my everyday job. It is something that is for the country, and our community and I am participating in things that are helping my people in a social way, in a different way. The investment I make in my people is not something that I can be paid for and that is why i take pride in it. I am proud to do it, it makes me more invested in Haiti Design Co-op because it is different than what businesses usually do." 

We are very proud of the HDC IN ACTION team, and are so thankful for the way they are able to impact the community around them. We can not wait to see where they go, and what they do in the coming years. Follow along, more updated to come! 

Orevwa!

-the HDC team

Shout out to the Salty Mamas

Sel pa vante tet li di sale.
Salt doesn’t boast that it is salty.

In honor of Mother's day we at Haiti Design Co-op would like to applaud all of you humble, hard working, patient mamas out there. You never clock out, you are working hard to put your kids through school, keep bellies fed, and you go with such little recognition. You are the salt of the earth.

We see you. We love you. We appreciate you. 

You, mothers, are simply AMAZING.

Today we would like to spotlight just a few of the incredible mothers from Haiti Design Co-op. Their fierce love for their children is inspiring. We did a little Q&A to get an inside look at their dynamic relationships with their children. 

Meet MADAM CARMELLE & ISHMAELLa

What is the most rewarding part of being a mother?

Having a daughter that I consider a friend. She is my best friend and companion. She is so important to me. She always takes care of me and I can count on her when I am weak or have problems to be there for me. 

What is your favorite part about working with your daughter?

She encourages me to try things that I don't think I can do. She is very patient, and understanding. I love being able to work with my daughter and embroider together, it is my favorite time of the day. 

Ishmaella is the only daughter of Carmelle. Carmelle has worked very hard to put Ishmaelle through school and she even recently graduated from law school. Carmelle beams with pride when she speaks about her. Carmelle and Ishmaella work together to create our embroidered message banner

meet darlene & collins

(Collins got in trouble for playing with scissors in the sewing room, so he wasn't too thrilled for this photo)

(Collins got in trouble for playing with scissors in the sewing room, so he wasn't too thrilled for this photo)

what is your favorite thing about your son?

He really loves me. He is affectionate and always tells me I'm beautiful and gives me kisses. 

What is your favorite time of the day together?

I love when we walk together to drop him off at school in the morning and afternoon. I also love helping him do his homework at night. I'm so proud of him and what he is learning.

Darlene is our assistant sewing manager. Every day she picks up Collins from school and he gets to hang out with us for a couple hours at the workshop. He is always busy running around, drawing, or creating swords with stacked thread spools. 

Meet Wideleine & her sons, Widens & Luchiano

how are your boys unique and different from each other?

Widens is much more serious than Luchiano. He is the oldest and is strict on rules. He is very independent and has a big imagination. He is very content playing by himself and creating stories with his little cars and toys laying around. He always tells me one day he is going to work and make a lot of money and he will always take care of me. Luchiano, or "Lulu", is very affectionate and clever. He loves being around and engaging with people. He always wants to give kisses and hugs. 

What is your favorite time of the day with your boys?

I love getting them ready for school in the morning, taking care of them when they are sick, and praying with them at night. I love being able to take them to school, church, and playing with them in the afternoons. I love them so much. 

Meet Yvetta & her kids, Peterson, Wislen, Yvens, and niece Cherline

what is your favorite part about being a mom?

I love being a mom because my kids have respect for me. They appreciate me and the work I do to take care of them, I love that about them. They are good kids. 

What are your favorite activities to do with your kids?

I love when we can hang out on weekends and play, tell jokes, take photos, and go to church. I also love praying with them at night. 

Wideleine, Yvetta, and their kids have been with our Haiti Design Co-op family since the beginning. They are hard working women that have overcome many struggles. Yvetta is the only one of her 12 sisters that can write her own name, and today she has 4 healthy, intelligent kids doing wonderful in school. Despite some extremely difficult beginnings, Wideleine has fought hard to bring her family to where they are today. Wideleine now serves on our Community Development Committee and takes care of many other girls in her community going through hard situations. 

Yvetta and Wideleine are best friends and think of each other like sisters. They have worked together for 6 years and seen each other through so many ups and downs. We are currently fundraising to give Yvetta and Wideleine the opportunity to own their own land and homes.

If you would like to support them in this exciting and meaningful way, please donate below. Your help will be contributing to a purchase that will impact their families for generations to come.

Donate

An Earth Day Call to Action

 

Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

 As a family and community here in Port Au Prince, we can press on these simple words. Words that project vision and dreams. Looking upon a simple seed and it’s potential, days and years from now. There is no limit as to where tomorrow can take us.

Giving our lives nourishment is a renewing practice. Caring for our bodies, our souls and our world can coincide beautifully in simple practices like gardening. There is something healing that comes in digging in the dirt, something deeply satisfying that comes in growing your own food, and there is something wonderful for our earth that comes when we find such natural ways to meet our needs. If we can reflect practices that embody this growth, we can spread education and investment throughout our family and into the communities of our artisans.

Photo: Harvest 107

Through generosities of partners, we have been given the opportunity to dig deeper with enrichment programs here at the workshop. We were joined by a corporate responsibility team last fall that came down and not only donated materials, time, and energy, but laid the ground work for the structure of our lunch sustainability vision being brought to life through a rooftop garden. As we set out to continue to find ways to implement simple and sustainable nourishment to our workshop, Haiti Design Co-op’s path struck a gold mine when we found Harvest 107.

Harvest 107, from nursery to garden, embodies a vision of growth through something simple- food. Taking a breath on their garden property opens a feeling of opportunity and renewal beyond what is seen in the dirt.  Renewal that brings forth possibility and growth that we hope to model here at HDC. Through this spirit, our garden will empower our family as they seek to develop practices that take them to their roots. The fruits of their labor are reflected in their mission statement,

to make safe, nutritious food available to every person on the planet.” and belief that “food is a right, not a privilege” .

Photo: Harvest 107

Photo: Harvest 107

(To learn more about Harvest 107 please explore their website)

Harvest 107 partners with organizations and community groups to build gardens that connect people to the importance of renewal and nourishment, as well as give every person the opportunity for sufficient food sources.

By building a sustainable rooftop garden alongside Harvest 107 we will be given the ability to-

  • Provide added nutrition to our employee lunches

  • Train leaders in sustainable gardening practices that can spread in surrounding communities

  • Provide educational classes on preventive healthcare through nutrition

  • Give our artisans the chance to become  a part of a project that they can watch grow (literally) and expand on individually, as a family, and into communities where their daily lives take place.  

By combining the visions of HDC and Harvest 107, the following plan was developed:

The Harvest Box : Our custom engineered garden boxes include a self-watering irrigation system that requires no electricity. Each Harvest Box is made from re-purposed shipping pallets and designed to use the least amount of materials while achieving the optimal environment for urban gardening. The boxes are not only functional, they are aesthetically pleasing and instantly transform raw spaces into a thing of beauty.”

Our goal is to launch the rooftop garden with-

  • 6 harvest boxes=70 plants

  • Training Sessions in-

    • care and maintenance

    •  organic pest control

    • composting

    • harvesting food

    • seed banking for planting the next crop.

 

The roots of our rooftop garden, tended by our leather artisan, Adelson. 

The roots of our rooftop garden, tended by our leather artisan, Adelson. 

 
 
 
 

“The key elements to a successful food sustainability project is great design and thorough education and training.”

- Pfaff Family, Harvest 107

 

 

 


Here's Where You Come In...

TO BRING THIS GARDEN TO LIFE WE ARE LOOKING FOR SPONSORS TO RALLY BEHIND US AND FUND THESE NUTRITIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL HARVEST BOXES.


Sponsor a plant- $25

For just $25, individuals can sponsor one of the 70 new and promising plants coming straight from the Harvest 107 greenhouse to our well-loved workshop roof. AND receive a free Leather Bracelet made in-house at HDC. 

Sponsor half a Harvest box- $75

For $75, individuals can sponsor half of a Harvest Box. Each plant will contribute directly to supplementing our artisans’ lunches and provide a training opportunity for our employees. AND you'll receive a free "BE GOOD TO PEOPLE" banner.

Sponsor a Harvest Box- $150

 For just $150, you can get your name, family’s name, organization, or business name on a hand stamped metal placard on the side of the box which you sponsored. You'll also receive a personal thank you video from our staff members. 

We are beyond excited about this new opportunity for our cooperative and, especially, those that will be our first round of gardeners. Haiti Design Co-op is committed to not only providing stability to individuals through employment, but also to life enrichment and community development made possible by your donations. Thank you for your support of this exciting new venture made possible by Harvest 107.

Alongside you, we are planting seeds of change and opportunity.

With love from Ayiti,

-the HDC team

 

 

Espere Counseling Partnership

The wellness of our artisan community at Haiti Design Co-op is of upmost importance to us. We have seen time and time again the evils of poverty to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually crippling. It is common for our artisans to address their physical health issues, however we sadly have seen that mental health is rarely addressed within Haiti. Many of our artisans have experienced devastating trauma, however sadly the stigma of mental health being only associated with "crazy people" and the lack of information and resources available to them has left a void of healing in such a vital area of life. 

It was with great pleasure that we were able to meet and partner with Espere Community Counseling Center of Port au Prince, Haiti. 

Espere - French translation, "to hope." 

"No matter what has happened, our clients can still hope for brighter times ahead. It is an action. It requires work. Each client must actively participate in the healing process in order to find the peace and strength they desire, and we are continually honored to be able to watch our clients work for and reach these goals." - Erika Childs, Founder Espere CCC

Erika Childs came to Haiti in 2013. Through her work as a volunteer psychology professor, she experienced the desperate need for mental health services and the severe lack of options. She was able to work with psychology students dedicated to helping their country, however disheartened by the reality that they had nowhere to put the theories they were learning into practice. Feeling a pull to fill in the gaps, Erika joined a colleague and the idea of a community-based counseling center began to take root. A place to not just provide counseling, but also teach about mental health and the stigmas associated with mental health. Espere CCC was born.

A Lack of information and large influence of the spiritual world and superstitions have planted a negative image of mental health, not just in Haiti, but in many countries worldwide.  This has left many people with minds and bodies paralyzed in fear and distrust. Distrust of others, and distrust of the natural world. 

Seeking to inform and better support our artisans in this important area of life, we welcomed Espere for a group session with our HDC family.

 

Espere's kind and patient professional staff was able to educate our group on the importance of mental health and what it means to us as individuals. Using drawings, group chats, and an open question forum, we engaged in identifying common problems and stresses we all face, how this affects us as a family unit, and as a business. We learned about the realities of anxiety, depression, trauma, and PTSD, and we learned techniques for properly coping with the stresses of everyday life.

The response from our artisans was incredible. There was a positive and engaging energy throughout the room. Everyone shared, participated, and left with new ideas and perspective on their own well-being. 

Communities are built from the inside out. Through opening the door to exploration inward, our cohort has let practices sprout and are exploding with ideas and practices that channel inner strength. When minds are opened, freedom transpires and carries the power to uplift and influence others. HDC will continue to build it's foundation as our collective teams seek strength and hope.

Mesi Espere, your seeds have been sown, and we can't wait to watch them grow.  

If you're interested in learning more or supporting the work of Espere Community Counseling, visit their website and donate at- http://www.esperecounseling.com/

Salut Friends!

My role here at Haiti Design Co-op has been evolving since I stepped on board as a volunteer one year ago. My love for this place goes deep, and my heart for Haiti goes deeper. My life in Haiti began in June 2014 through working with an orphanage as house mom and running a baby feeding program. Life progressed here in Haiti and I decided to transition into focusing on keeping families together and sustained through job creation, which landed me at Haiti Design Co-op. Here at HDC, I am head of order fulfillment, shipping, and program coordinator. I work alongside our Community Development committee to put in place programs to create opportunities for our workers in education, business development, and life skills. I am excited to share with you stories from our little family and bustling workshop in Port au Prince, Haiti, as well bits and pieces from the rich culture that makes up this country.

 

My name is Katelyn Hollis, I’ll be the chief contributing writer to the Haiti Design Co-op journal.

 

My role here at Haiti Design Co-op has been evolving since I stepped on board as a volunteer one year ago. My love for this place goes deep, and my heart for Haiti goes deeper. My life in Haiti began in June 2014 through working with an orphanage as house mom and running a baby feeding program. Life progressed here in Haiti and I decided to transition into focusing on keeping families together and sustained through job creation, which landed me at Haiti Design Co-op. Here at HDC, I am head of order fulfillment, shipping, and program coordinator. I work alongside our Community Development committee to put in place programs to create opportunities for our workers in education, business development, and life skills.

I am excited to share with you stories from our little family and bustling workshop in Port au Prince, Haiti, as well bits and pieces from the rich culture that make up this country.


A little speed round q&A from yours truly-

                       

                 

1. What's your favorite part of your daily routine at HDC? 

Making the first round of morning greetings to our teams throughout the workshop rooms. You never know what tidbits of information will unfold since the previous workday. It could quite possibly set the tone for the entire day here on the grounds.  

"Ready or not, here we go!"

 

 

 

 

2. What's your favorite HDC product from the collection?

Classic leather tote in tan. It's timeless. It's leather. Enough said.

3. If advising a person traveling to Haiti for the first time, what are the things they must see and places they must go?

Jacmel. A town on the southern coast, perfectly preserved from an era of bold colors, bustling cobblestone, Caribbean salsa dance, and hand squeezed rhum sours. Oh, and breathtaking beaches.

4. Favorite street food?

Avocados and coconuts! If I’m feeling adventurous, banan pese topped with pikliz (fried plantains with a Haitian style cole slaw / spicy kimchi, the more burn the better!)

 

5. Favorite hobby since moving to Haiti?

Yoga, on our workshop jungalow patio. I love the classic practice in a hot yoga setting, sweating and stretching while surrounded by plants. Serenity.

6. Favorite creole word or phrase and why?

“Toutouni” - naked. Packed with so many uses. To be raw, bare, minimum…. One’s natural state. Pronounced just how it looks, try it you won’t be able to say it just once.   

 

7. What is the weirdest thing for you about going back to America when you visit home?

Watching how fast people move in public places. It gets weird, like they actually have to get things done in a timely fashion. Who woulda thought?! A huge contrast to the streets in Port au Prince.

 

8. What is the hardest part of coming back to Haiti after visiting America?

Usually I'm coming from colder northern parts of the US, so definitely adjusting back to the hot weather. But then it soaks into my core and makes me smile from the inside out, and sweat.


Haiti is a place that appeals to every sense at one time, in each moment. This only takes a split second to see. Let’s step out and explore paths, visions, art forms, and everyday products that make up this heartbreaking and breathtaking little island.

 

With love from Ayiti,

Katelyn Hollis

                            Jacmel, Haiti

                            Jacmel, Haiti