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.

 

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Item of the Week: House of Emmanuele Jewelry

Forget less is more. This summer, when it comes to accessories more is more and bigger is better with House of Emmanuele jewelry.

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I can’t help but stop and stare at how glamorous and regal the jewelry looks. House of Emmanuele evokes a story of pure fantasy and mythology with it’s glamazonian necklaces, gladiator crystal gloves and footcuffs, chokers, earcuffs, head and body jewelry. Handmade in Australia, they are designed with precision and elaboration with oversized Swarovski crystals.


Created in 2003 by designer Emmanuele Tsakiris, House of Emmanuele has graced covers and editorials of magazines such as Vogue, Harpers Bazzar, Grazia, Cleo, OK and InStyle to name a few. His Celebrity following includes Beyonce, Rihanna, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Madonna, Fergie and Amra Olevic.


  
GLAM UP!

Item of the week: The Bandana

This week’s item must have is the western inspired accessory known as the bandana.

Worn around the neck, or as a headband to pull back your hair, this 90’s go-to accessory is making a major comeback (like most 90s trends these days).


  

Celebs and bloggers have been spotted rocking this extra, making it the hottest accessory at coachella and a street style favorite!

Ashley Benson and Shay Mitchell

Caroline Receveur

Danielle Bernstein from We Wore What


90’s Throwback: Choker Trend

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For quite some time now bloggers, models off duty, celebs and fashion houses have been taking on this not so new trend.

Your 90’s favorite staple has gotten huge again and even better. Velvet, metal, leather, or rhinestone, the choker adds a little edginess to your look.


Think ” Rock Star”, the choker is your go to accessory this season. Available at almost every clothing and accessory store, you can also come up with your own DIY by tying a string around your neck.

The trend started making a buzz here in Haiti and we’ve spotted a couple of different chokers and looks:




Summer White

 

Summer is a beautiful time to embrace white. It is an elegant option, and it reflects the sun rays.

Beauty and Practicality = Winner

Summer White

Spring 2014 Trends

It’s finally spring! For most of us anyways (We’re looking at you, dear readers in Canada). Spring is the time to embrace the most lady like frivolities. Skater skirts, fun vibrant patterns, killer orange lipsticks are all a part of fashions most colorful season. As everything thaws out, our spirits are lifted and what better way of showing that than by ditching the see of black and grey we stuck to for the last 5 months?

Pastel Colors
A trend we’ve seen almost on every Spring/Summer 14 runway: pretty pastels in mint green, lavender and blush pink.

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Mesh/Sheer
Pick-a-Boo!

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Crop Top
Yes don’t give up on your gym routine just yet, crop tops are not going anywhere!

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Floral
Ladylike and preppy florals à la Blair Waldorf.

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Full Skirts
More ladylike trend with this voluminous silhouette.

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Sweatshirts
No longer for the gym only, this trend is as chic as it’s comfortable.

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Suits
Suits are not so boring when patterns and colors are involved!

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Athleticism
Whether a varsity jacket, a baseball cap or a tennis inspired dress.

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White Shirts
The classic white button down shirt was seen on most S/S14 runway.

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Wide-Leg Whites
Making a come back this season are wide-leg pants!

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5 things you should STEAL from your Boyfriend’s closet

So we all know how sexy women find androgyny, and menswear becomes a “must” in our closets. We love boyfriend jeans, suits, bow ties etc. Unfortunately, our counter parts tend to think… well “Eww”. Here are a couple of guy clothes you can pull off all the while looking hot for your man.

1. His Tees and shirts

image_123photo_123Oversize shirts are always stylish. They are understated and clean. Be it to stay home, or quickly throwing it on to rush out of the house.

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2. His Jacket

image_147_21Who doesn’t love to the phrase “Do you want my jacket?” on those cold fall nights.

3. His Hats and his watch

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I personally love men’s watches. All women should wear them because they make such a statement.

4. His sunglasses

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5. His perfume

OK this isn’t a clothing item, but the chemicals react differently with your skin, and the musky scents are very sexy.

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Must Have: Beanies

This Fall, hats are big accessories and a must to complete an outfit. We’ve spotted already 2 fashion followers with beanies:

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Saturday Afternoon’s Look

I love mixing colors in my outfits, here is one of my favorite day looks: photo image image_1I was wearing:
Blue blouse from Cotton On
Orange pants from Zara
Marc by Marc Jacobs Cross body bag
Bracelets by Henri Bendel and Haitian jewelry designer Good Bijoux Karma

Look du Jour

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Fashionista is wearing:

Shorts and Tank Top from ZARA
Apparent Project necklace Urban Zen collection. Made from recycled beads

Down the aisle Fashion

Wedding march, white roses and lights, that special White Dress …

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It was all there, the decor, the setting, the music, the entertainment, the loved ones … a dream wedding. Perfection from beginning to end.

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SHE walked down the aisle and wow-ed everyone with her gorgeous Vera Wang mermaid style gown in organza.

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Fashionable guests:

photoThe Maid of Honor was stunning in her sheer top embellished with black flowers with a black slit skirt. Her hair was pinned with a black pearl and crystal head piece with soft waves falling down to the side of her face and wore black Louboutin pumps.

imageAbsolutely gorgeous was the mother of the Groom in this light gold lace straight dress with a boat collar.

imageRaya had a stunning mint green strapless mermaid gown with crystal beaded waist belt.

IMAGE_1Black long sleeve sequin dress with open back, ankle strap sandals and a touche of pink on the lips.

image_3Short bell shaped dress in hot pink. Veronica styled her hair in a hump slit back pony tail. She added a bold metallic necklace to her outfit and chose strap sandals with animal prints.

Also spotted:

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Bea in a sweetheart neckline beaded dress in silver.

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Abir wearing a flowy red dress with an open front, a sheer back with a low U-shaped draping.

image_2Left: Deep V top with black belittlement, a beaded belt at the waist, and veil slit skirt. Designed and made by me and mother. (see end of post)
Center: Bianka wearing a gorgeous strapless embellished with silver stones, finishing with a beige veil and a mid-thigh slit.
Right: Melissa in a long sleeve dark blue dress with a sexy cut in the front and back. Made by a Haitian designer (see end of post)

image_1Ladies in back and red

Accessories: Ankle strap sandals, Bold necklace, Millinery hat …

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Some guests had their dresses made by Haitian designers:

photoDoris in a Mejeanne Couture (Christelle Dominique) red halter dress.

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Dark blue long sleeve dress slightly cut open in the front, with an opening in the back as well. Made by Djenane Desrouleaux.

In my case, my mother and I took on the challenge of making my “Geisha style dress” as I like to call it.

I had so much fun and STRESS working on it that I had to leave you with a few pictures! Hope you enjoy them!

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Working on the pattern and lining …

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The details on the top: Embellished with flower designed that were hand glued to the top right of the dress, and back lace sown around the V cut all the way to the back of the neck.

image_2End result:

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Trend: Mirrored Sunglasses

This spring mirrored sunglasses are a hot new trend!

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Whether on the runway or in the streets these cool sunnies are everywhere and a definite must have this season.

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Get them in different shades … and different colors …

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Picture sources: Refinery29.com and Vogue.co.uk

December Fashion

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In previous posts, we’ve mentioned that the month of December has sort of it’s own fashion show in Haiti. This year we got to snapshot a few of these fashionista(o)s’ outfits…

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Gray V-neck with harem pants
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Yellow pants with a plain white V-neck and a scarf
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Gray jacket with black lapel
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Blazers and more scarves !
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Blue pants and distressed boots
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December 24th men chic !
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Bow tie !
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Siblings in style on December 24th
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swag spotted at Magdoos restaurant
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well dressed at Vanity Fashion Show
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2 of Ayiti’s fashionistas at Vanity Fashion Show
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December 24th chic
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Sisters in style
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Backless beach dresses
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Beach attire

Accessories:

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BOOTS!
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And more Boots !
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Even more Boots !
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Embellished collar and funky clutch
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Pumped up kicks
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Spiked ring !
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Handmade Haitian necklace from Mountain Maid (Mission Baptiste) Fermathe Haiti.
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Canvas boots to the beach
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HAT !
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And more hat !

Haiti Fashion Week 2012

Event: Haiti Fashion Week 2012.

Location: Karibe hotel.

Purpose: Stimulate and showcase the Fashion World of Haiti.

For the first time in history, Haiti proudly introduced its first Fashion Week from November 8 to November 11, where thirty designers showcased their collections. Also known as “ModAyiti 2012” in creole, this special event was created by the Haitian Center for Support and Promotion of Enterprises (CHAPES) and the Haitian Network of Designers (HAND), two associations working to develop the Haitian Fashion Industry. Funded by the Ministry of Culture and the European Union’s support program ARCADES, this event gave our local designers a chance to be noticed by the international eye thanks to the presence of international designers, guests and press.

Decor & Set-up

As we entered the Karibe Convention Center we were immediately transported into another atmosphere: Elaborate white draping covered the ceiling and walls, and white chairs were laid out to align the also white catwalk.
Ushers greeted us at the door and brought us to our seats while the pleasant beat of the Haiti Fashion Week 2012 theme song played in the background.

The Event

The program of Haiti Fashion Week 2012 included a forum during the day on the development of fashion in Haiti, and an exposition of items for sell by the designers after each show. The opening ceremony last Thursday was a welcoming celebration for the designers and the organizers of this event with a tribute and homage to the Haitian culture and history. The celebration ended last Sunday with a Haitian folkloric dance with colorful costumes.

Scheduled to start at 7 PM, it was not a surprise to see the shows start an hour late while the public preferred to mingle in the courtyard with drinks and cocktails. An intermission of 15 minutes took place each day, and the shows were a little too long lasting almost 3 hours. It is Fashion after all, and Fashion is fast paced.

Designers

Top Left: Marie Thérèse Hilaire. Bottom Left: David André. Center: Michel Chataigne. Top Right: Watson St-Louis. Bottom Right: Marjorie Alexis

We saw it all: beach attire, casual look, suits, cocktail and evening dresses. More than 2 dozen designers took part in this show to exhibit their creations. Native names such as David André, Michel Chataigne, Maelle David, Marie Thérèse Hilaire, Miko Guillaume, Marjorie Alexis (to name a few) shared the runway with international designers coming from the Caribbean, USA, Argentina and Japan.

Daniel Oberti Glasses Collection – Argentina

Culture and heritage are at the heart of every designer in Haiti and are proudly reflected through their collections. However, it seems that the focus on culture was taken too seriously. We believe that more initiative and risk should be taken by our designers in order to push the envelope when it comes to the individuality, cohesiveness and aesthetic of their designs.

Left: Garment painted with Haiti’s geographical departments by the students of Verona Fashion school. Center: Folkloric garment in Haiti’s colors by Harry Lafond. Top and Bottom right: Works of Jacqueline Francis.

Our island is known for its beautiful craftsmanship thus making accessories our forté. Models carried the works of many jewelry, bags, and sandal designers like Phelicia Dell (vèvè bags), Créations Dorées, Gerry Romain, Savannah Savary …

Top Left: Men necklace by Gerry Romain. Bottom Left: bag by Sibylle Denis Touat. Center: Accessories by Gerry Romain. Left: Vèvè bags by Phelica Dell

The project beyond ModAyiti goes as far as creating an atelier for our local designers and hopefully opening a store in New York selling Haitian products and clothing. The world of fashion is no longer dormant in Ayiti, and this project led by Maguy Durcé marked its awakening.

Giovanna Ménard
Prisca Milliance

Modeling

Nearly 30 models carried the designers’ collections down the runway 10 of which were international. While some were too fast, others like international Haitian model Nayeli Fanfan among others (see below pictures) made their way down the runway with the perfect modeling grace and attitude. Reigning miss Haiti International Anédie Azael brieftly joined the modeling team.

                           

Male models appeared shirtless and some with paintings on their faces to showcase some designers jewelry collections.

                                

A group of 20 Haitian and 10 international models, stylists and makeup artist were part of the team that made Haiti Fashion Week possible.
A fashionable public

Who would have thought that a country who has suffered so much from recent natural disasters would one day hold it’s very own Fashion Week? Surely a lot of work needs to be done but thanks to ModAyiti and its team, we hope to make this event an annual rendez-vous.

Look du Jour

LOOK DU JOUR

We’re loving the look of this Fashionista: Long sleeve aquamarine green loose shirt with skinny black pants and simple Tory Burch flats. Your ideal comfortable outfit for college. However, this FIU student added her own personal style by accessorizing with bangles and a neon yellow watch. Our favorite item is the leopard scarf around her neck that contrasts with the vivid color of her shirt.