By About Her Culture Team
Haiti is the mother of Caribbean revolution and a nexus of French, indigenous Caribbean, and African influences, combining to make a wholly unique culture. This creole culture, and the spirit of social activism, are alive and well in Haiti’s people and their creations. Here are a few woman-owned, Haitian brands proudly pushing their heritage out to the world, while doing their part to create social change.
Tisaksuk sells everything from clothing to home goods – all artisanal and Haitian-made, both locally and abroad. Based in the capital city of Haiti, Port-Au-Prince, the socially conscious business has been around since 2013.
From day one, Tisaksuk’s mission has been to bring sustainable economic and social development to the people of Haiti through apprenticeship, job creation and promotion of civic engagement.
The founders have truly put their money where their mouth is. Tisaksuk ensures that all of their employees have access not only to training, but to health benefits and of course, a fair salary.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a political movement and not a clothing and accessories brand… So, what about the clothes? They’re something special themselves.
All of Tisaksuk’s pieces boast a signature design style that includes a splash of Caribbean art… Think bold colors and classic Caribbean scenes like going to the market, farming or just relaxing with friends.
In a blog post written in French, discussing their POU LARI A line, Tisaksuk explains their ethos. “We wanted to reappropriate our street, our space, our style, our differences, our beauty, our individuality and our identity.”
Clearly, for Tisaksuk, maintaining and celebrating the beauty of everyday life is their inspiration.
Myabel is far from your average restaurant. Self-described as “Haitian comfort food with a spin”, what was originally a cocktail craft shop grew from strength to strength – from making mixes, to bottling their own sauces, adding product after product, and eventually starting their own farm to keep up with demand.
“Our food is truly our love language. There is a joke that a Haitian parent won’t say ‘I’m sorry’ to you, they’ll say ‘Are you hungry,’” Regine Theodat from Myabel shares. “In relationships, couples in the early stages will often call each other while eating so they can eat together.”
Food is a big deal in Haiti. But, Regine thinks there’s something special about her country’s cuisine. “Our food is… an untouched mix of all of our cultures.”
It doesn’t stop at food for the folks at Myabel. “Although we love food, agriculture and Haiti… without social impact, we wouldn’t do this work,” Regina says.
Their goal is ambitious – to boost the country’s GDP and to be a model business. To that effect, they prioritize locally sourced ingredients. This supports local farmers, encouraging further production, and directly increases the GDP. Plus, in Regina’s opinion, locally sourced food just tastes way better.
Atelier Calla is a workshop focused on jewelry making, accessories and home decor. Founded by Christelle Chignard Paul in 2007, Atelier Calla honors the past, by bringing it into the contemporary.
Adding a modern touch to classic Haitian artforms, this atelier (French for workshop or studio), creates works of art from materials often discarded or underappreciated. Their work frequently focuses on three key materials: horn, bone, and wood.
Equal parts cultural preservation and innovation, the craftspeople at Atelier Calla create using the process of upcycling. To be succinct, upcycling is the process by which you take something used, and turn it into something else – something more valuable.
In 2019 alone, Atelier Calla upcycled over 5000 cow and bull horns, turning them into conversation pieces. There’s lots of care in every aspect of their craft. The bone they work with is first boiled to kill harmful bacteria. After crafting, they’re polished to a shine using non-toxic and hypoallergenic solutions.
There’s just as much thought put in their wooden pieces. Acknowledging Haiti’s troubled past with deforestation, Atelier Calla only uses responsibly sourced material from regenerative species. They pride themselves on the total use of the wood. “No parts are discarded, even the smallest are used to craft exquisite jewelry and tableware items,” the company catalog notes.
It should be clear by now that this atelier isn’t content to just make breathtaking craft, but they want to do things the right way and leave as small a footprint as possible.
Christelle and Atelier Calla extend this care to their workers as well. Over 30 skilled artisans are employed by the atelier, and no corners are cut when it comes to taking care of them. With unemployment in Haiti at an astronomical 70% and the average GDP per person per day at just under USD $2, the atelier is hoping to buck some trends by doing all it can for the people who help put it on the map.