Deux Mains Designs: Creating Sandals From Repurposed Tires

 

On Tabarre road, hidden by the boisterous and hectic day-to-day activities of the airport, lies a local shoe manufacturer called “deux mains designs“.  At the atelier artisans craft beautiful handmade sandals and accessories from repurposed tires and local genuine leather.

Yes, you read right, repurposed tires! After hearing about this atelier, I was intrigued by how they use car tires to create those beautiful sandals and tote bags I saw online.  So I contacted deux mains’ VP and part Shareholder Sarah Sandsted. Sarah was more than happy to give me a tour of the workshop.

 
After the 2010 devastating earthquake, CEO and founder Julie Colombino came to Haiti on a complete leap of faith as a disaster response volunteer. In August, 2010, she founded REBUILD globally in an effort to seek alternative methods to traditional forms of charity, and employed four women to hand-make sandals from tires. Over the last five years, through expert guidance, product development and mentorship, REBUILD globally provided the start-up capital and training necessary to develop deux mains designs, an ethical fashion company, registered as a société anonyme in Haiti.

“deux mains” is a small footwear workshop in Port-au-Prince with about 20 employees and craftsmen that work together to create beautiful accessories with materials sourced in Haiti. “deux mains” started off with creating one simple sandal design. Now the atelier have expanded their creations to other accessories such as tote bags, clutches, earrings, passport holders to name a few.

The evolution of Deux Mains sandals

Over the years, the atelier invested in the research and development, and in the designs and aesthetics of sandals, wanting to create more appealing and wearable sandals. What were once plain and staple flip-flops are now sandals designed by Kenneth Cole and supermodel Heide Lindgren.

“Bèl Nanm” sandals designer by Heide Lingrend meaning “beautiful soul”

The Kenneth Cole “Love Haiti” for him sandals

While visiting the workshop, I had the privilege to meet and talk to a few employees. I was amazed at how passionate they are about what they do (some are even part shareholders in the company!) deux mains sandals are so beautifully crafted that you wouldn’t even think they are made with used car tires (believe me the fact that they are, makes them even more appealing!) I couldn’t help but wonder however, how I had never heard or seen them before. Sarah informed me that most of their sales are international and explained to me the difficulty she has penetrating the Haitian market. Surely such incredible work of art should be recognized locally as well. Therefore, I invite you to visit their atelier in Tabarre and check out their website deuxmains.com.

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Below are some employees’ testimonies:

Born and raised in upstate New York, Sarah Sandsted came to Haiti at age 19 to help her mom, a horticulturist, as a French language interpreter. After falling in Love with Haiti, she moved in 2008, as an English teacher in Les Cayes before leaving again to come back after the earthquake in 2011, and finally becoming part of deux mains designs in 2013.

“I believe really strongly that the fashion industry has the power to end poverty worldwide. The ethical fashion initiative is stepping up and challenging traditional fashion industry to make sure they are compensating people appropriately and using ethical practices. 20 families' lives have changed here at deux mains and our vision is to employ millions of people one day.” Sarah, VP.

 

“I used to have my own little cosmetics business before the earthquake. January 12th happened and I lost all of my hard work. Months later I met with Julie, founder of deux mains who employed me and I have been working with her ever since. This job means and represents everything to me. Over the years I bought a land, built my own home for my children and I, and now I am a part shareholder in the company. I love everything about this job and everything I do, my sandals are beautiful and I’m proud of being part of deux mains.” – Jolina.

 

"I’ve been at deux mains for 4 months. I intend to make the sandals even more beautiful than they are and help Haiti move forward. The pèpè business has been like bumps in the road for us but we are here to break the pèpè business.” Alexandre, cobbler.

 

Poze Brand’s 4th Collection

Based in Miami, but inspired by Haitian culture, Poze brand is a Haitian street wear brand for both men and women. The word “Poze” meaning “chill” or “relaxed” in Creole, is heard in most conversations between Haitians. The brand, founded in 2014 by Jeff Appolon, prides itself in teaching the world about Haitians, one word, one picture, and one story at a time. So far 3 collections have been released and the 4th one is forthcoming.

Check out our interview with Mr. “Poze” himself, where he discusses his latest collection.

Tell me about your new collection and what was the inspiration behind it.
• This collection follows up on the previous one which pushes the boundaries further. I want this collection to be engaging to the mind and also laid back. Half of the pieces in the 4th collection visit our rich history and capture moments of glory. As a country, we’ve taken so many L’s in the past that we forget that we were once great.

 
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How does the collection reflect your Haitian background?
• One of the shirt is inspired by the current success of our Haitian national soccer team. I mean, we haven’t won any world cup but we are doing better now. The shirt I’m referring to shows the picture of Haitian soccer Legend Manno Sanon as he scored the famous goal against Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff during the 1974 world cup match Vs Italy. That goal ended Dino Zoff’s long standing 1142 minutes without getting scored on. After I read about it, I thought that it was important to celebrate that moment and glorify him.

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• Another shirt I have is a drawing of the statue of Marie Louise Coidavid, who was Henry Christophe’s wife. I visited the Palais Sans Soucis a couple of years ago and I remember seeing the statue. I remember how proud it made me feel. Somehow I feel that it’s the same feeling that a diaspora gets when they first visit Haiti. Even though only the ruins are left, it shows greatness once existed in our country. I feel like back then, our ancestors were a bit more courageous than us because they did more with less.

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When and where can one purchase the new collection? Will it be available in stores in Haiti?
• Yes it will be available in Haiti. I had the perfect store to sell, but unfortunately with the economic instability, the store had to close down. I am looking at some other places to carry it in PV. More information will be provided soon. Everything should be available beginning of June.

 
How does the brand Poze reflect your personal style?
• I tend to be more on the conservative side, so my designs will be a bit minimalist. I don’t really like loud colors and too much going on in a t-shirt. I usually go for neutral designs that you can wear when you’re out. But every now and then, I’ll collaborate with someone who may have a different taste than me. I try to have the designs balanced. I’ll take suggestions from my friends and see what they prefer. After all Poze is not my personal brand, it’s the people’s brand.

 
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
• I try to keep up with the current trends and add a bit of Haitian mix to it. I’ll be on fashion blogs all day and Instagram when I have some free time. If I see something that catches my eye at the mall, I put a note on my phone. Basically my whole environment.

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Is there someone from the fashion world that inspires you?
• I’m a big Kanye West fan. A lot of times I like his style but other times I feel like he pushes the boundaries but then again that is what fashion is all about. I like his style better when he’s rocking the tall tees, ripped fitted denims and yeezys. I also like Big Sean’s style, he’s always on point.

 

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What is your personal favorite piece of the 4th collection?
• I really like the Manno Sanon t-shirt and the hat with the Poze hands. I feel like I can see those items on the shelf of an Urban Outfitters store. I like that they are Haiti related but with a touch of pop culture.

What can we expect from Poze in the near future?
• I really want to branch out to different things. I wanna go deeper into female and kids clothing but I’m a bit limited as far as man power. I want the brand to evolve and get better with time. My goal is to keep the brand alive so that one day I see it in a website like Complex, The Source or Highsnobiety as a street wear brand to watch out for.

 Fashion Ayiti, the models and Mr. Poze doing the Poze hand sign.

OBI Brickhouse Happy Hour

Another excuse to ditch the heels and put on a pair of cool kicks? YES PLEASE!

Last Saturday Obi restaurant hosted yet another happy hour opting this time for an outdoor atmosphere. Inspired by Wynwood’s brickhouse, the outside patio at Obi was transformed into an urban setting with tables of beer pongs and  wooden benches with a variety of games available.

Staying true to the theme of the night guys and girls alike sported a “hippie chic meets urban grunge” look with denim, fringes, crop tops and sneakers to name a few.

Paired with shorts, denim skirts and even dresses, sneakers were once again a favorite of the night.

Scroll below for more of our favorite looks of the night.




  

  

 

Le Get Away in Fort Alexandre

Ditching the usual little black dress and heels, girls, as well as guys put on their sneakers and jackets on Saturday night and headed to Nocterm’s hill top party in Fort Alexandre, located 45 minutes from Petion-Ville.


After a year of hiatus, Fashion Ayiti decided to come back and capture Haiti’s fashion, style and what better way to start back than at a hill top party with a mesmerizing view of our city.

Needless to say that the most common trend on Saturday were sneakers. From men to women can I just say shoe game on point?

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A surprising but very approving trend was faux fur and fringe vests amongst the ladies.

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You can never go wrong with leather

Girls in denim

 

Accessories made a big statement!

Ladies with chokers

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Hats



A big hair trend this season is the two dutch/french braids


Nocterm Entertainment first came up with the idea of Le Get Away about a year ago. With islands as previous destinations, the concept behind Le Get Away is to discover Haiti’s true beauty in a party atmosphere.

Picture credit: @verdyverna

 

Behind The Scenes of Viv Magazine Volume 9

For Viv Magazine’s February-March 2015 edition, we decided to shoot with Wild and Free Baby Wear for the fashion editorial.

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Melanie Brierre wearing her own creation

 

Wild and Free Baby Wear
Wild and Free Baby Wear is a classic bohemian line of outfits for little girls (and now little boys) ages newborn to 12. The brand stirs from the traditional pink dresses and embraces the freedom and wilderness that children often carry and reflect. Created and designed by Haitian-Canadian mother Melanie Brierre in 2014, the garments  are designed and handcrafted in Haiti. The pieces are “envisioned in a rain forest, on a beach, or on a lazy barefoot setting” explains Melanie, “I want my daughter A’Sya to get her hands dirty, to dance in the rain, to fall and pick herself back up. That is the ‘wild and free’ I want to celebrate and nurture”.

Wild and Free Baby Wear is available for sale at Abako store in Petion-Ville.

 

The shoot
To complete and emphasize the wild and free theme, we opted for Wahoo Bay Beach Resort as our location on a sunny Saturday morning. Unlike most shoots, this one was a particular challenge since it was our first time working with kids. As you can imagine, our “young models” preferred running around playing with each others instead of standing still under the beating sun. However the super moms who were present along with the Viv team did an awesome job and the outcome of the shoot came out beyond incredible.

Check out some pictures of the shoot:

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Photos by Frederick Alexis for Viv Magazine

For more about Wild and Free Baby Wear visit http://www.vivmaghaiti.com  

It’s All About The Big Apple

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak” – Rachel Zoe

Trends come and go but having your own style is what makes you stand out. We spotted a few different looks over the weekend and we love how these fashionistas and fashionistos are embracing their own style. Check them out:

Look #1: The Brooklyn City Slicker
Her Misfit clutch in hand, pink shoes and funky jumpsuit, this Fashionista is ready to make an impression.

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Look #2: The Upper East Sider
With just a simple white shirt and black shorts, this fashionista is evoking a city chic look for a night out on the town.

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Look #3: The Wall Street Bachelor
Move over Chuck Bass, this bachelor is taking over!

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Look #4: The Hampton’s Heart Breaker
Every town has it’s heart breaker, and this lover boy is channeling his inner Nate Archibald.

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Which was your favorite look?

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Carl Eric Jabouin on his Style, Inspiration and being Haiti’s Summer “IT” Guy

This summer, we decided to be a little different in picking our “IT” person. We tend to look at women when they walk in a room, and we’re all about celebrating female form. This time however, we met a unique Haitian we felt earned this spot. With his Basquiat-esque looks, and Pharell swag meet Carl Eric Jabouin… Summer’s IT guy!

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He is a man of few words, armed with a sharp tongue, and quirky opinions. Carl Eric is a breath of fresh air indeed.

photo 4When did you become a fan of fashion?

I’ve always been a fan of fashion, I just never knew it. When I was younger I even used to dress my dad every morning telling what I liked and what didn’t.

What draws you to fashion?

I just love looking good. It gives me confidence.

 What is your favorite item of clothing?

I’m a shoe guy.

Do you follow trends or do you prefer to have a timeless style?

I like to think I have my own style doesn’t matter if it’s the trend or not. If I like it, I will wear it no matter what people think about it.

Who is your favorite designer?

I don’t have one. Like I said, I don’t follow trends.photo 2

Who is your biggest fashion influence?

I look up to Pharrell Williams and Will-I-Am. Clean cuts, bold colors and effortless.

What is your favorite girl’s clothing item?

I can’t say I have a favorite women’s apparel favorite. But I do love a girl who embraces different styles and changes her look up often. I like women with bold fuchsia hair, it’s sexy and shows confidence.

How do you decide what to wear?

On the spot. It’s easier that way.

 

Meeting this humble young man with a flare for fashion was a pleasure. His style reflects his unapologetic uniqueness. A quiet and cool confidence is always in. Whether roaming the streets of Montreal or spotted in Haiti, look out for this one!

 

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