At Work in Haiti
By Erica White, operations manager of Haiti Babi, in Cap Haitien, Haiti; all photos courtesy of Haiti Babi
In December of 2010 I graduated from the University of Nebraska with a masters degree in textile and clothing design with a focus on sustainability. I traveled to Accra, Ghana after graduation where I worked for Kokrobitey Institute teaching sustainable design for a year.
Left to right: Resilia Verdéus, Hernise Guerrier, Martha Jean Louis, and baby Lele
Upon returning to the states I continued creating environmentally conscious textile art, while seeking employment with likeminded individuals.
Jeannide Pierre Louis winding skein of yarn into a ball
Striving to make a difference in the fashion industry and the lives of artisans, with a desire to work for a company committed to changing lives, I happily took on the role as Haiti Babi’s operations manager. This position and living arrangements are located in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on the northern coast of this beautiful island. While it is considered the second largest city in Haiti we are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the capital of Port Au Prince.
Group Photo of Haiti Babi Moms including women not featured in the other photos:
Florène Floréus, Fabiola César, Beatrice Dorleans, Ystania Mathieu, and Madame Melick
Cap-Haitien is a peaceful beachside village where the local residents struggle to find jobs and provide for their families, often selling produce or used clothing to survive. Jobs in Haiti are extremely hard to come by and it is the children who suffer the most. It is said that 10% of the children are orphans and 80% of them have living parents who simply cannot afford to keep them. The goal of Haiti Babi is to provide jobs for mothers so they can take care of and keep their children. For the past five years the women have been creating handmade baby products to achieve this objective.
View of Cap-Haiten
I arrived in Cap-Haitien early in September 2016 and immediately began my positon as manager of twelve strong Haitian women and one male Haitian employee, Kensy Robert, who is our business coordinator. He also assists me with Kreyol to English translation, managing the work women undertake, and he handles local business logistics. It is my responsibility to run all of the day to day operations in Haiti: I manage the employees, quality control, design development, payroll and accounting, inventory, shipping and exporting goods, sales within Haiti, and social media presence. The work is both challenging and extremely rewarding.
Edije Michel showing off her embroidered circles
Haiti Babi moms knit and crochet high quality artisan goods with 100% Pima cotton. These products include baby blankets, hats, and adorable stuffed sea creatures that are sold both locally in Haiti and internationally as well. The majority of the goods are imported into the United States and sent to our headquarters in Seattle, WA. From there they are shipped out to US retailers and online customers. Haiti Babi does not have a store front but generates sales through our website and through social media. We also welcome visitors to come visit with the artisans in Haiti, view their handcrafted goods, and purchase products at wholesale prices.
Martha Félizor on the knitting machine
In order for Haiti Babi to continue to grow and to help these women thrive, awareness of our organization and donor contributions are necessary. Please share our story and link to our website with anyone you think may be interested. Here you can learn more about our organization, read our mom’s stories, and purchase ethically and fairly traded artisan goods handmade with love by moms in Haiti. www.haitibabi.org. Follow us @haiti_babi on Instagram and Facebook.
Bevelie Louis with her boys
Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org