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.