Haiti Made Blog

Haiti Made from Start to Finish: The Story Behind Our Leather

Haiti Made from Start to Finish: The Story Behind Our Leather

What makes our leather goods different? From start to finish, our leather goods are proudly 100% made in Haiti. Not only are all Haiti Made leather goods thoughtfully designed and meticulously handcrafted throughout each step of production here at our workshop in Grand-Goave, Haiti, all of our raw leather materials are made in Haiti as well.

 

Since our founding in 2014, Haiti Made has partnered exclusively with Hawtan Leathers (Cuirs Hawtan) to supply all of our raw leather material needs. A premier international leather manufacturer and distributor based in Massachusetts and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Hawtan has one of the largest tanneries in the Caribbean and has operated continuously in Haiti since 1970. Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery and processing facilities employ 100+ Haitians and are large enough to process 700,000 square feet of custom leather and raw leather monthly.

 

 

 

Hawtan supplies leather to companies across the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and we are proud to be one of them. Being able to partner with and support a local Haitian business like Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery, while they provide us with high-quality leather is crucial to the big picture of our mission which is to build and create a circle of trade centered quality goods made in Haiti, to create dignified employment for Haitians, and to promote economic sustainability in Haitian communities to end the deep-rooted cycles of poverty that have long existed in Haiti.

 

 

To get a great final product, you have to start with great raw materials. Our certified vegetable-tanned (veg-tan for short) leather from Hawtan is old-world saddle grade leather made from cowhides that come from certified grass-fed cows in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa. Processed at Hawtan’s Port-au-Prince tannery, our certified veg-tan leather is made using a special process that utilizes natural tannins made from organic materials.

The veg-tan leather tanning process is slow and artisanal. Many other companies use chrome-tanned leather which utilizes chromium and is more quickly processed, but chromium is a heavy metal that is toxic to the environment and the workers processing it. Veg-tan leather might be a more expensive and difficult way, but to us, it’s the right way. In addition to it being a more natural and organic process, veg-tan leather is unique in that it has a distinctive “leather” aroma, rather than the typical chemical odor of chromium-tanned goods. With every Haiti Made leather product, you will touch, smell, and see the distinction and superiority of veg-tan leather over chromium-tanned leather.

 

 

 

After being artisanally processed at Hawtan’s tannery our certified veg-tan leather arrives at our workshop in Grand-Goave to be artisanally handcrafted into a beautiful Haiti Made leather product. Each leather product is 100% cut, stitched, and stamped with the Haiti Made logo by hand, and coated with neatsfoot oil to condition and further protect the veg-tan leather. Stitching by hand on veg-tan leather creates a stitch that is extremely durable, much stronger, and more elegant than a stitch created with a sewing machine.

 

 

 

Craftsmanship is what makes Haiti Made. Some Haiti Made leather products are made, start to finish, by one Haiti Made team member individually. Other Haiti Made leather products require a more collaborative production effort and thus have been touched and made with many different hands, each doing their part to get to the final product. The beauty of handcrafted means a part of each Haiti Made team member is imprinted on each Haiti Made product like a piece of art.

 

 

 

One of the best things about our veg-tan leather goods aside from their durability is the fact that you make them your own. The artisanal techniques used by Hawtan to make our high-quality vegetable-tanned leather means that instead of degrading and deteriorating, all Haiti Made leather goods will soften and develop a beautiful patina as they age. With day-to-day use over time, our veg-tan leather goods show their character with a strong leather patina, a.k.a the natural accumulation of dirt, oils, sunlight, and wear and tear that combines to create a darkened, sheened, and softened look. This look tells a story, and through everyday use, your own Haiti Made leather goods will develop a patina that will tell your story, a story that started in Haiti.

From start to finish, our leather goods are proudly 100% made in Haiti.

 

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The Meaning of Fatherhood featuring the Dads at Haiti Made

The Meaning of Fatherhood featuring the Dads at Haiti Made

As Father's Day approaches we are again reminded of our mission and the impact that we’ve made in the lives of not only our employees but their families as well. Currently, there are three fathers (Laurencin, Jean Sonet, and John Fendy) employed at Haiti Made. Like the mothers at Haiti Made, these dads are key leaders on the Haiti Made team.

In honor of this group of dads, we sat down to reflect and discuss the joys of fatherhood and what it means to them. Bònn Fèt Dè Pè! (Happy Father's Day!) 

 

Jean Sonet – Jean Sonet is the father of two young boys, a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old. To Jean Sonet, fatherhood is the biggest transition in a man's life and you must be there for your children in every way. As Proverbs 22:6 instructs us, correctly raising, providing for, and sufficiently being in the lives of your children enough is most important. One of his favorite parts of being a father is the feeling he gets when he returns home from work at Haiti Made and both of his kids run to him shouting daddy, daddy, daddy. There are so many other special moments that happen day-to-day.

 

John Fendy – John Fendy is the proud new father of a baby boy named Fenshee. Fatherhood to John Fendy means being mature and responsible in all areas of your life, your child comes first before everything else and you must plan accordingly. While there are challenges, he loves the changes that becoming a father has brought to his life, especially every moment where he gets to hold his child and share smiles.

 

Laurencin – Laurencin is the father of a 9 year-old and a 10 year-old. To Laurencin, becoming a father is a life-changing experience that changes every way you think and act. You must work harder than ever to not only provide for them but to also be there as a teacher so you can raise them and help them grow up to be the adults you want them to be. This is important for not only you as a father but for society as well.

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Mother's Day Celebration at Haiti Made

Mother's Day Celebration at Haiti Made

Since day one our mission at Haiti Made has been to develop quality goods made in Haiti, create dignified employment for Haitians, and promote economic sustainability in Haitian communities to end the deep-rooted cycles of poverty that have long existed in the country. Our mission focuses holistically on the big picture to elevate Haitians and Haitian families out of poverty in a long-term way that truly makes a generational and community-wide impact. Job creation, employment, and economic sustainability means the provision, stability, and preservation of families, and on a larger scale, communities.

As Mother’s Day approaches we are reminded of our mission and the impact that we’ve made in the lives of not only our employees but their families as well. Currently, there are eleven mothers employed at Haiti Made and we want to recognize and celebrate this incredible group of dedicated moms who are at the heart of the Haiti Made team. They are an inspiration to us each day, as they work hard supporting their families at home and perfecting their craft at Haiti Made. We hope you’re inspired by them as much as we are! Bòn fèt dè mè! (Happy Mother's Day!)


Cinelia – the mother of one boy, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.


Denise – the mother of one girl, she has been with Haiti Made since transitioning from the Hands & Feet Project in 2018.


Fabie – the mother of one boy, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.


Immacula – the mother of one boy, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.


Madam Edon – the mother of two girls and one boy, she has been with Haiti Made since 2014.


Magdala – the mother of two boys, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.


Mila – the mother of one girl and two boys, she has been with Haiti Made since 2014.


Mireille – the mother of two girls and two boys, she has been with Haiti Made since 2014.


Olga – the mother of three girls and one boy, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.


Phara – the mother of three, she has been with Haiti Made since 2014.


Yppomène – the mother of three girls and four boys, she has been with Haiti Made since 2017.
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Celebrating a Life Well Lived at Haiti Made

Celebrating a Life Well Lived at Haiti Made

It's with great sadness that we announce the passing of "EYA" (pronounced "AH YEAH" - his nickname because his favorite thing was saying “ah yeah” to everything asked of him), one of our Haiti Made employees.

Our team decided to share Eya's story with all of you because through his work at Haiti Made, his presence within our company made a big difference.

While it is common in America to see disabled adults working at jobs in the community, it's not as common in Haiti. When our team spotted Eya and offered him an opportunity to work for Haiti Made, he showed up an hour earlier than needed the next day. He worked hard making beanies, or many other products we sell with minimal assistance and a smile on his face. He was known for always giving a thumbs up, this was his way of indicating everything was alright, he could do what we asked him to do.

The contributions he made at Haiti Made were a clear demonstration that a Haitian man with Down Syndrome can learn to develop good work skills, grow deep connections with his co-workers, and independently walk his path.

While we are sad to lose him, we are so proud of him and the mark he has made on his community and his country. Our staff will pursue to employ those who are marginalized, seen as too different to contribute, those who may just need an opportunity to give us a thumbs up.
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Good things have come from your orders! Update on our work in Haiti.

Good things have come from your orders! Update on our work in Haiti.

At Haiti Made, our mission is to employ those who are marginalized in Haiti. We strive to provide workers a consistent opportunity to earn a living for themselves and their families. To live a dignified, self-sustaining life within their community.

While most of our Haitian team come from very humble backgrounds, their work speaks of their joy and gratitude. We extend a sincere thank you to all the people who purchased products from us in 2019. Our staff is ending the year with full hearts and in great anticipation of new opportunities that will come in 2020.

For the past year, the country of Haiti has experienced many trials. There has been much conflict between the citizens and the government of Haiti. Many days of planned shutdowns by the Haitian citizens have presented challenges to our operations team. Through all of it, our Haitian and American teams have persevered through the difficulties.

In the coming weeks, we plan to roll out new products delayed by the conflicts, freshen up our website, and move our manufacturing site. Our team has been working hard to get all our equipment, raw goods, and operations ready to go.

As we enter our third year of business, we're looking for your input on what we can do better. Your thoughts help shape the way we create, produce and ship our products to you. Put your thoughts in the comment box below. We'd love to hear from you!

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Introducing Haiti Made FC!

Introducing Haiti Made FC!

Haiti-Made-Soccer-Team-1-2Introducing Haiti Made FC! This past month we had the pleasure of organizing a Haiti Made soccer team for a local soccer tournament headed up by Pastor Lex at Mission of Hope in Grand-Goâve. The team sported AC Milan-esque uniforms which feature a color scheme and style similar to Haiti's historic red and black national colors. The team performed very well, achieving a final record of 3-1-2 and making the top 8 in the tournament before losing in the knockout round.

 

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Peterson and Claudeson served as the team's coaches. The team itself consisted of Jonas, Fendy, Wodlin, Romy, Michel, Parker, Jameson, Louines, Avril, Luckson, Erick, Etzer, Schnayder, Eberson, Filius. Haiti Made's Haiti Operations Coordinator, Parker Touchton also pitched-in and played a few matches too! We are very proud of how they all performed together, with a high level of fair play and teamwork. We can't wait to see how they'll do at the next tournament!

Like almost everywhere else in Latin America and the Caribbean, soccer is the most popular sport in Haiti. So the next time you are in Haiti, make sure you know a couple of soccer related words in Haitian Creole!

Here's a small cheat sheet of soccer related words in Creole for you!

    • Soccer = Foutbòl
    • Game = Jwèt
    • Field = Teren
    • Ball = Boul
    • Goal = Gòl
    • Kick = Choute
    • Kick the Ball = Choute Boul La
    • Pass = Pase
    • Pass the Ball = Pase Boul La
    • Coach = Antrenè
    • Player = Jwè
    • Forward = Avannsant
    • Midfield = Milye Teren
    • Defense = Defans
    • Goalkeeper = Meyè Gadyen
    • Team = Ekip
    • Win = Genyen
    • Lose = Pèdi
    • Champion = Chanpyon
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Meet Our Team: The Haiti Made Portrait Series

Meet Our Team: The Haiti Made Portrait Series

For us, one of the things we are most proud of is that we have such a diverse team who come from all walks of life. Some Haiti Made staff are mothers and homemakers, others are young adults transitioning from Hands and Feet to the workforce at Haiti Made and studying at university, and some are just seasoned craftsmen and craftswomen who’ve spent most of their working careers using their hands to create beauty in one way or another. Each staff member has their own unique story and life experience. From this, the wide range of talents and abilities that each staff member brings to the team is truly one of our greatest strengths.

Most who have followed us since the beginning or have visited us here in Haiti already know many staff members, but with 50+ staff on the team now there are likely many who you have not met nor know by name.

We want to change that.

This June we will be starting a portrait and interview series that features all current Haiti Made staff. Follow the series on any of our social media accounts below.

We invite you to meet the team and to get to know us all better!

A special shoutout to Nathan Piper and Zach Shores for the photography on this project!
 

   

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Our New Home at Taïno Beach

Our New Home at Taïno Beach

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Most who know us and have visited us in Grand-Goâve will know that Haiti Made operations were proudly based at Ikondo, the upscale hosting facility and initiative founded by the Hands and Feet Project. Since the beginning of this year however, Haiti Made operations have moved from Ikondo to a larger facility just outside of Grand-Goâve proper at Taïno Beach. The effort put forth in moving our operations has been considerable, but through these changes we are very excited for what the future holds.

 

We are grateful to Ikondo for these past few years and for our partnership that allowed us to grow to the company we are today in 2018. Our facility at Ikondo was a truly beautiful space for us to house our operations and for Haiti Made staff to blossom their skills and creativity. The Ikondo facility also allowed guests to get an up-close and personal experience of Haiti Made operations and production processes, which is something that few other companies can say they offer. (FYI - visitors of Ikondo, Hands and Feet, or anyone in the Grand-Goâve area are free to visit us at our new facility!)

 

As our 2017 year in review post attests to, we’ve undergone significant growth over the past year and a half, which required us to increase our staff size and overall output. The growth left us with the clear need for more facility space which would allow us to boost our production output and quality, while ensuring our staff could continue to thrive.

 

With immense blessing, we were able to source a larger facility just a few miles down the road from Ikondo at Taïno Beach, and now we can proudly call this facility our new home. The facility will serve as a unifying building for Haiti Made, bringing together teams of staff who were previously slightly disjointed into a more centralized location. The new Haiti Made facility boasts new amenities, sustainable solar-powered electricity, and large common areas and open air spaces for our staff as well.

 

With the new facility at Taïno Beach, we are excited for the future as we now have the ability and capacity to manufacture more largescale custom product orders and high-quality custom retail goods for our partners. As such, the future of Haiti Made is moving more toward these segments of business. We thank God for all that we have been blessed with at Taïno Beach, and we look forward to the future as we start new and exciting ventures, create new products, and begin new partnerships!

 

Pictures of our facility at Taïno Beach below!

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I Made Your Clothes: Meet Luc Sony

I Made Your Clothes: Meet Luc Sony

In the spirit of Fashion Revolution Week 2018, we'd like you all to meet one of Haiti Made's longest tenured employees and one of the backbones of our organization, Luc Sony.

Luc Sony Haiti MadeLuc Sony is one of Haiti Made’s longest serving employees, having worked with Haiti Made since its founding in 2014. A Grand-Goâve native, Luc Sony is from a family of 4 (mother, 2 brothers and 1 sister). Before working at Haiti Made his family had some financial struggles, but upon his new employment with Haiti Made he was able to begin helping support his mother and sister, as well as assist some of his closest friends.

Not only has the income and financial benefits of working at Haiti Made helped Luc Sony, but the professional skills, training, and craftsmanship that he has learned has inspired him to attain a university degree while continuing to work at Haiti Made.

As Haiti Made has grown since 2014, Luc Sony has grown right with it, taking on more and more duties and responsibilities. Along with Sova, one of our other most tenured employees, Luc Sony has become an experienced leader and mentor for numerous other staff.

Luc Sony is committed to the growth of Haiti Made and he hopes to play a critical role in its future. He envisions a bright future where Haiti Made can eventually employ many more Haitians in both Grand-Goâve and in other parts of Haiti!

Stay tuned to the Haiti Made blog as we will continue to introduce you all to more and more Haiti Made team members and their stories! To find out more about Fashion Revolution and the #FashionRevolutionWeek initiative, please visit www.fashionrevolution.org.

I Made Your Clothes Fashion Revolution Week

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Who Made My Clothes? #FashionRevolutionWeek

Who Made My Clothes? #FashionRevolutionWeek

Haiti Made Fashion Revolution Week 

This year Haiti Made is proud to take part in Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Revolution Week, an annual initiative that marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, where over 1100 lives were lost in the collapse due to unsafe conditions and negligence. Despite this horrendous tragedy, fashion around the world is still manufactured and produced in similar working conditions to those that existed at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Fashion industry workers around the world are still suffering as a result of how fashion is unsustainably manufactured, sourced, and purchased. With these issues of sustainability and working conditions still at the forefront, it’s more important than ever for us all to ask “Where Did My Clothes Come From?” and “Who Made My Clothes?

 

For us at Haiti Made the issues of sustainability and working conditions run deep at the heart of what we do and why we do it. Haiti Made was born out of a deep desire to see Haitians and Haitian communities empowered by dignified and sustainable employment as a part of a larger effort to promote economic growth and sustainability in the country. More than half of Haiti’s population currently lives in abject poverty, and the orphan and child slavery crisis in Haiti has in large part been fueled by the lack of employment and very low wages.

 

With these factors spiraling Haiti into further economic turmoil, job creation has been proven to succeed where perpetual aid measures have failed. Dignified employment and fair wages mean the provision and preservation of family and community which translates to long term stability. By joining the Haiti Made team, each worker is able to make a fair wage and gain the professional skills necessary for career advancement. As a “Circle of Trade” united around quality products, dignified employment, and grounded in a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” philosophy, Haiti Made will continue to empower our employees and continue the fight in delivering economic sustainability to Haiti as a whole.

 

It’s more important than ever that we all ask “Who Made My Clothes?” and how our spending habits are affecting how they are made. Like Fashion Revolution, Haiti Made believes the more awareness we can bring to the stories behind our clothes/products, the more impact we can have across the fashion industry to raise standards for workers and the environment, all while improving respective communities and countries around the world. Your curiosity, your voice, and your shopping habits are more powerful than you know.

 

To find out more about Fashion Revolution and the #FashionRevolutionWeek initiative, please visit www.fashionrevolution.org.

I Made Your Clothes Fashion Revolution Week

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Haiti Made 2017: A Year In Review

Haiti Made 2017: A Year In Review

If you are like us, then your 2017 came and went at lightning speed, so what better way to begin 2018 than with a little pause and self-reflection! We also owe all our fans, followers, and customers an update on our growth and on the work that we've been able to accomplish over this past year. In short, it's been a year full of new and exciting ventures as we created new products, began new partnerships, and on-boarded a ton of new hires to the Haiti Made team!

 

Haiti Made Workshop

 

In a year full of change, 2017 began with perhaps the biggest change in our entire history, the separation of Haiti Made from the Hands and Feet Project, and subsequent creation of H.E.I, the Haiti Entrepreneurial Initiative. H.E.I is a for-profit entity that has the mission, vision, and heart to be an economic engine and a key part of the sustainable growth efforts in Haiti. As most who know Haiti Made already know, the history and story of Haiti Made had been one fully intertwined with that of the Hands and Feet Project (HAF). One of the founding pillars of Haiti Made’s mission was based on the essential need to assist and prepare transitional age children at HAF for life beyond the children’s village.

 

Between HAF providing it’s incredible circle of care around the children, coupled with H.E.I/Haiti Made being able to provide transitional young men and women an option for further growth, we now have a unique opportunity to help them start building their future and avoid the difficult economy and poverty cycles that exist in Haiti. As a permanent place of employment or just as a stepping stone onto other dreams and goals, Haiti Made is grateful to have filled in the gap this past year and hopes to grow in scope and scale to include other great organizations that are transforming the lives of countless individuals.

 

The H.E.I/Haiti Made mission and vision has grown into a much larger effort this past year. While Haiti Made continues to develop high-quality, handmade retail leather products for customers, we’ve also taken those same products to the custom and promotional world, having manufactured custom products for countless organizations, groups, and companies. We’ve also begun designing and developing one-of-a-kind leather products with other companies, production teams, where having a turn-key HR and manufacturing service are some of what we are calling the new frontier for H.E.I/Haiti Made.

 

This broader mission and vision will not only continue to empower the transitioning children at HAF, but also reach to empower as many Haitians as possible through sustainable and dignified employment. This has become our reality, as we now provide jobs to a significant number of local community members in the Gressier and Grand-Goâve areas. As we continue to grow, so do the number of opportunities. A Circle of Trade united around quality products, dignified employment, and grounded in a “hand up” rather than a “hand out” philosophy, H.E.I/Haiti Made will continue the fight in delivering sustainability to as many Haitian families and communities as possible.

 

As for the Haiti Made team, 2017 brought important change and growth that we were incredibly blessed for. We began the year with less than 15 employees in total, yet finished the year with over 60 full-time and part-time employees on the Haiti Made team. As we move into 2018 we hope to keep pace with 2017’s growth and continue to impact as many lives and communities as possible.

 

Haiti Made Team

 

On the business side of things, 2017 was full of new and exciting ventures, creating new products, and beginning new partnerships. Overall 2017 was a year of considerable revenue growth, as revenue grew to 100% year-over-year from 2016.

 

New Haiti Made products created and re-created:

 

New Haiti Made retail and custom product partnerships:

 

We are truly blessed for the opportunities that 2017 provided us. We want to give a big thanks to all of our fans, customers, partners and most of all, the Haiti Made team on the ground in Haiti for making last year a very special year. Thank you all for your love, support, and hard work! We are forever grateful! Stay tuned in 2018, there are lots of new changes, products, partnerships, and initiatives yet to come!

Pou yon nouvèl ane plen ak bòn sante, pwosperite, lanmou, ak lafwa! (Here's to a new year filled with health, prosperity, love, and faith!)

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