O U R  T E A M S

 

Our In-House workshop has three main teams working to produce jewelry, sewn products, and leather goods. 

Our Workshop motto is-

"MEN ANPIL, CHAY PA LOU"

"MANY HANDS MAKE THE LOAD LIGHT"

LEATHER TEAM //

Our leather team consists of 15 men led by their head manager, Cenice. When the team first started working together they named themselves "Ekip Solid", meaning "Solid Team". This name represents their team well, and has stuck ever since. All of our leather is locally sourced from a family owned tannery in Haiti. We specialize in full-grain, vegetable tanned leather that with love and care will last a lifetime.

                       Mano hand punching leather scraps into jewelry pieces

                       Mano hand punching leather scraps into jewelry pieces

JEWELRY TEAM //

 The jewelry team has over 30 ladies working in mini-teams to produce many different jewelry making techniques. They specialize in fabric beads, leather sequin jewelry, beadwork, and assembly. We strongly believe in reducing waste as much as possible at our workshop, so all leather scraps are saved and handed over to the jewelry teams to be turned into beautiful new creations. 

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SEWING //

The sewing team has over 24 ladies producing handbags, soft leather goods, home wares, and even the fabric bags that each of our products are packaged in. Because there is no textile manufacturing within Haiti, our denim and canvas are remnants sourced from jeans factories in the Dominican Republic. We believe each step of the process needs to be done as sustainably and with as much impact as possible.

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RECYCLED STEEL METAL ART

We partnered with Boss Renel and his recycled steel metal art business in 2013. Hurricane Sandy wiped out his workshop in 2012, and since then he was trying to build his business back up. Through new design collaborations, quality control training, and business management training, Renel was able to increase his abilities and capacity by creating jobs for other men in his community. His process begins with an old oil drum purchased at the port. He then flattens this oil drum and carefully hammers out the mold of the product he is creating. From there Renal will intricately hammer in the design by hand and sand and polish until the product is complete. This form of crafted metal art is one of Haiti's traditional and most well known artisan crafts. 

                                                          Artistic metal leaves by Boss Renel

                                                          Artistic metal leaves by Boss Renel



SAND-CASTED ALUMINUM 

Boss Jeff came to Haiti Design Co-op with the desire to start his own aluminum casting business in 2014. Sand-casted aluminum, known as "chodye" is traditionally used in Haiti to make large pots for cooking. Jeff learned the process from his father who had a chodye business, however when his father passed away he became responsible for the business. We began by giving Jeff new ideas of designs and products he could make with this process other than pots. From there he began making unique sand-casted jewelry pieces and tripled the amount of employees his business was supporting. 

"TET ANSAMN FE NOU VIV PI BEL"

         "With our heads together we can live more beautifully"

Shop some pieces from Andre & his team-


Andre Paul Lefond has been hand-crafting products from ethically-gathered horn and bone for over 34 years. He manages his own workshop, employing 30 men. He is one of Haiti's most well-known horn & bone artisans and has crafted for top designers and retail chains. He acts as a mentor for artisans getting their business going.

His process starts with raw goat and cow horns purchased from the local butcher that would otherwise be thrown away. The horns are then heated over charcoal until softened. They are moved to a cast iron press to be flattened, re-heated, and then molded into the desired form. The pieces will then go on to to the sanding and polishing team, which will start beveling away with shards of glass until a smooth surface is formed. The next team will then continuously sand and polish the horn surface until smooth, sealed, and properly finished. 

Andre first learned the craft of turning cow & goat horn into beautiful products at the age of 14 from his uncle. Little by little he worked to buy his own tools and build up his own business. During the 2010 earthquake, Andre lost his workshop. With the help of generous supporters Andre was able to receive a grant to build a new cooperative workspace. He says the workshop is not his, but it belongs to all of the artisans. He strives to teach young men the craft his uncle first taught him, so that they don't have to learn lessons the hard way in which he did, but instead can use his knowledge to advance themselves and build their own business. 


                 Michel Ange and her Atizan Lakay team in Grand Praix, Haiti

                 Michel Ange and her Atizan Lakay team in Grand Praix, Haiti

Michel Ange entered Haiti Design Co-op's bead making class back in 2013. She had left her small village outside of Cap Haitien and moved to Port au Prince in search of work. She started with simple fabric beads, and then was given the opportunity to learn more specialized beadwork techniques from a jewelry designer in the states. She picked up the craft very quickly and we came to see Michel Ange was a leader with a passion for design and job creation for women. She was then promoted to the head manager of our jewelry program. She had a dream of going back to her village to provide opportunities for the women by teaching the same skill-set she had learned.

In 2015 this dream became a reality- Michel Ange moved back to her small village called "Grand Pre", trained 8 women in beadwork techniques, and launched her business "Atizan Lakay" Atizan Lakay means "home artist". To Michel Ange this represents artisan products coming out of her hometown. Michel Ange's business motto is based off of an old Haitian phrase that says "Si yonn pa la, lot 2 yo pa ka sevi", which means "If you don't have one, the other two cannot function." This phrase is known within Haiti to describe the three rocks needed to hold the big pot when cooking food in the countryside. To Michel Ange this phrase represents the importance of everyone working together. She says for Atizan Lakay to function, she must have her team, Haiti Design Co-op, and the customers. All three work together to make the vision come to life.

"SI YONN PA LA, LOT 2 PA KA SEVI"

             "If we are missing one, the other two cannot function".

 

EMBROIDERY 

Madam Carmelle has been with our sewing program since day 1. She is a seamstress by trade, but extremely skilled in the traditional Haitian craft of decorative embroidery. Carmelle works from home with her daughter to create all of our message banners. Her daughter will first trace out all of the words or image onto the fabric, and then Carmelle with embroider the piece by hand. Carmelle has worked very hard to purchase land and put her daughter Ismalle through school. Ismalle dreams of becoming a lawyer, and in her spare time is a talented artist. 

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