Dear Ibu Allies,
I come to share with you the story of our artisans and the magic of their hands. Growing up, I watched the women in my life create hand craft which, at the time, I thought was home décor or something to pass the time; but as I grew older, I realized it was so much more.
My mother, grandmother, and Godmother sewed and embroidered clothing and decorative items for the house. The quantity of sewing machines in the house almost outnumbered the children. It was nothing other than a necessity. I remember seeing my grandmother doing two things: praying and embroidering textiles as a form of meditation.
Seeing their example made me realize I wanted to be a fashion designer, and after years of working for large fashion companies in the US, I desired to do more with my own designs. I wanted them to impact the women who made me who I am—the women in Haiti. It was time to create Bien Abyé, meaning "Well Dressed"—made in Haiti.
Following the earthquake of 2010, I started to research the prospects for creating a line in Haiti. I came across so many roadblocks. Everyone I spoke with said, No, it is impossible; you will not find the quality in Haiti, but I refused to give up. A fellow Haitian female designer put me in contact with a woman who not only connected me with my first group of women artisans, but also asked me to train them to elevate their craft.
What I found in the middle of the "Perle"—as Haiti is called—opened my eyes to all the possibilities. Bien Abyé is created by 65 artisans in two regions of Haiti. Our artisans embroider and bead, and I design products tailored to their craftswomanship. Their techniques are the same quality as couture fashion. It’s the magic of their hands. They use their talent to feed their families, educate their kids, and endure their daily struggles.
Ibu and the Foundation are rays of light during challenging times. A chance encounter with Ibu founder, Susan Hull Walker, turned into a love for our beadwork and the creation of the Iris clutch (see below). In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, when orders were scarce, Ibu kept the Iris clutch selling and started ordering other styles like the leopard clutch and our silk headbands. As time moves on and the political situation in Haiti grows worse, our artisans find hope in our work and continue to share their enchanting crafts with the world.
The Ibu Foundation has helped continue this work through its support. The partnership has been extremely impactful in the lives of our artisans. Most recently, Ibu Foundation has assisted supporting the families of those affected by the earthquake of August 14th (read more below).
There is more to Haiti than yesterday’s negative headlines. The island is full of art for the world to adore. Take a moment to visit our collection at Ibu and fall in love with the magic of our hands.
Founder and Creative Director, Bien Abyé