artisan empowerment

Fashion Revolution Week: PART 3

Fashion never unnecessarily destroys or discards but mindfully redesigns and recuperates in a circular way. Fashion is repaired, reused, recycled and upcycled.
— #7 from the Fashion Revolution Manifesto

We have a very strategic “Waste Not, Want Not” mindset when it comes to designing our products. Our team members are not only talented craftsmen and women, but have an eye for design and resourcefulness. From leather remnant jewelry to up-cycled aluminum- our artisans can turn what once would have been discarded into new treasures. To check out pieces from our Remnant Jewelry Collection, click here.

Meet Sandy Dulorier from the Jewelry Team-

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“My name is Sandy, I’m 22 years old. I live in Petite Place Cazeau, and I love my neighborhood because it is calm and peaceful. My bedroom is painted salmon pink because it makes me feel comfortable. I’m a believer that men can still be manly if they wear pink.

I like to swim, go out to eat with friends, and dance, especially to African music. When I am having a bad day, I like to listen to music and tell jokes. Something that always makes me laugh is when people fall or trip, it always gets me.

This might be weird but I really like the dark. People complain when the electricity goes out, but this usually makes me feel happy because it’s dark out. When I’m at home I spend a lot of time styling hair, and trying to create new styles out of clothes that are too big for me. I love the summer time because it’s hot and there is a lot of stuff going on, which usually makes people happy, and I love getting to see people smile. I wish I had a superpower that would give me the ability to unify people, so that I could remove discrimination and fighting. I just like when things are peaceful, when I can laugh, and see the stars when it’s dark out.”

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Fashion Revolution Week: PART 2

Our team members are the heart of what we do at Haiti Design Collective. Aside from a commitment to creating stable jobs, we provide what we call “holistic employment”- benefits that support the overall well-being of our artisan communities, addressing much more than financial need. To learn more about our Wellness and Education programs, click here.

Fashion measures success by more than just sales and profits. Fashion places equal value on financial growth, human wellbeing and environmental sustainability.
— #9 from the Fashion Revolution Manifesto

Meet Berlain Saint Cyr from the Leather Team-

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My name is Berlain but I earned the name Abella after mispronouncing the spanish word “abuela” (meaning grandmother) in Spanish class. I live in Bon Repos, and really love my neighborhood because you could literally dig a well anywhere and find water.

Apart from being an artisan at Haiti Design, I am a mechanic and love cars. My favorite is the Nissan Frontier- I love the new model; it’s as close to perfect as a vehicle can come. I have always loved fixing things, whether its cars, or sewing machines, or a broken toilet. I love watching how-to videos on youtube and teaching myself how to do things. I’ll fix anything. I don’t have my own car, but I do have a motorcycle- I call her Ti ble, which means Little Blue. Ti ble never loses in a race, and rides as smooth as butter. I taught myself how to drive, and I wasn’t afraid, even at first.

I remember not being afraid during the earthquake too, even though I was at school and the building was shaking and falling down. When it started shaking, I was running trying to get out, but one of my friends got trampled under the crowd and was yelling for me, so I went back for him and got him out. That was probably the bravest I have ever felt. Maybe this is why Superman is my favorite superhero- because he is the bravest, and let’s be honest, all the other superheroes had to bring him back to life because he was the only one who was powerful enough to win. He also wears red and that's my favorite color, because red is a color that feels vibrant and alive. It makes me feel strong when I wear red.

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Fashion Revolution Week: PART 1

We are excited to join in on Fashion Revolution’s movement to bring more transparency to the fashion industry. We highly encourage you to take a moment to read the 10 pillars of their manifesto here.

Fashion liberates worker and wearer and empowers everyone to stand up for their rights.
— #1 of the Fashion Revolution Manifesto

In honor of this very important week, we want to spotlight 3 of our artisans and dear friends at Haiti Design Collective.

Meet Darline Felix from the sewing team-

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“My name is Darline, but I love the nickname Dadou because it’s really simple and I like it. I like to listen to music a lot, and even though a lot of people in Haiti don’t like reggae music, I’m a fan of reggae. I also love to dance, and even learned how to dance folklore before I had my son. My son is always making me laugh with his funny questions. My son is so important to me. Back in 2015, I went on a vacation and when I came back home, everything in my home was stolen. I had to become pretty strong after that, and I learned to become more selfless to take care of him. I have pretty much replaced everything that was stolen at this point, and everyone comments on the good changes that they have seen in me since then. I love wearing bright colors because I tend to get a lot of compliments when I wear them. I love wearing green the most. Green makes me think of perseverance, and that is a quality that I feel like defines who I am. I would love to have the ability to teleport- to just disappear whenever I wanted to. I think this is why I love when people style their hair and have bangs, because it always hides their foreheads really well. Bangs should never go out of style.”

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Psst… Darline is sporting her FAVORITE new piece from our new collection. The Essentials Crossbody in Pale Yellow leather is coming very soon! Stay tuned friends :)


Photos above were taken by Kelsey Cherry Photography

The Gift of a Shift in Perspective

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Do you ever think about the little treasures you’ve picked up along the way during your travels? Both emotionally, physically, and spiritually? Maybe creative inspiration, maybe a phrase in another language that just expresses the message better than your own.

In Santo Domingo I learned that if you’re going to take a tequila shot, you MUST do it with a lime wedge that’s been dipped in sugar on one side and coffee grinds on the other. Try it.

Haiti travels taught me about resourceful artistic expression. And luckily my home now has these gems scattered throughout.

Trips to New York push my style outside of its comfort zone. It makes me want to try new things and be more expressive in the way I dress.

And Italy… oh Italy. It made me appreciate quality. In food, in architecture, in experiences. It made me want to slow down and appreciate the delicacies of life.

We lucky ones have been able to travel to new places, maybe internationally or maybe within our state lines, and fill up on inspiration. We fill up on goods or ideas and then we take them home and make them our own. Everything we pick up along the way becomes a part of us, but made new. We come back rejuvenated and infuse our new perspective into our surroundings.

This is precisely the experience we want to give our artisans. While we can’t provide it for everyone, we can send a few, and then they can come home to Haiti, make it new, and share it with others.

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While in Italy in 2017, Josh and I stumbled upon a traditional leather working school in an old monastery in Florence. There were students from across the world gathered in the small, beautiful classroom studios. We had the pleasure of meeting with the director and getting a tour. One of the first things she said to us was this-

“If you’re looking to train factory workers, this is not the school for you. We train up artisans- they become masters of the process from design to production.”

This spoke right to our vision at Haiti Design Co. To invest in and send out leaders, true artisans, that can run their teams with integrity and create quality.

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Since then we’ve been dreaming about the opportunity to send off a few of our most promising leather artisans and give them this once in a lifetime experience. To learn not just technical skills, but to experience the shift in cultural perspective. To be immersed in a country rich in history, art, craftsmanship, and with fellow students from across the globe. To get the freedom to be removed from the chaos of their own beautiful nation for a few months to learn, be challenged, be inspired, and then come home and create.

We know this isn’t the typical fundraising request you hear from Haiti. It’s not for an orphanage, it’s not for a feeding program, it’s not for aid. While those things are vital and have their place, we decided early on our approach to development was going to look a little bit different. It was going to involve digging deeper into our relationships with the artisan leaders, investing in opportunity, and letting the ripple effect work as it will. We’ve seen success from this so far- and are eagerly awaiting what’s to come once this particular dream of ours is able to become a reality.

Please join us in investing in these individuals, and inherently investing in the future of their communities as well.

With much love and gratitude,

-Chandler



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!