From Football to Fashion 

Football, (soccer to Americans) is called “the world’s sport” and “the beautiful game”. As football players gain celebrity status, it is no wonder that they become supermodels or brand ambassadors to some fashion brand. Since the days of Pele, the world has looked at football players not only for the latest in style but also for inspiration. As the worlds of sports and fashion have been intertwining over the years, it can be said that football and fashion go hand in hand.

Some of the most popular players have their own clothing line or have a collaboration with fashion brands. We’ve all drooled (hopefully just us girls) at Cristiano Ronaldo’s underwear line CR7 and David Beckham’s collection with H&M. Following their footsteps at only 28 years old, is our very own Donald Guerrier, left midfielder of Haiti’s national football team.


After opening a store in Poland last year, Donald Guerrier opened a second store this March in the city of Alnyaspor Turkey where he is currently residing and playing for the Alnyaspor football club. His newest 77 Collection showcases his latest designs in sports and casual wear.


I’ve had the chance to meet and talk to Donald regarding his new 77 collection, and here is what he had to say:

FA: What does fashion mean to you and how did you get from playing football to having your own clothing line? What inspired you to have a clothing line?

Fashion means a lot to me, I love clothes in general and Cristiano Ronaldo is my favorite soccer player, and my inspiration in both football and fashion. The idea of having my own clothing line came from my mom. She pushed me to have my own line and together we came with brand name DG 77 at first, and eventually changed it to 77 Collection (pronounced 7 to 7) as 7 is my number.


FA: Do you design your own collection?

Yes they are my own designs, I designed the collection myself. And it’s taken me some time to come with the perfect name 77, to make it simpler and nicer.


FA: Does your Haitian heritage influence your designs?
Euhh… Not really, only my mom  gave me some ideas for my collection, but my Haitian heritage does not really influence my designs.


FA: What kind of material do you use for your collection?
I’m using 100% cotton

FA: What is your favorite piece in this collection?
*laughs* Actually I don’t have a favorite one, I love all of them!

FA: How often do you plan on releasing a new collection?
Every two weeks we have new styles and new designs coming


FA: How would you describe your personal style?
I like complicated clothes, distressed clothes to be exact. I like T-shirts with holes in them that look destroyed.

FA: What is your favorite item of clothing? And what’s a must have in your closet?
T-shirts and jackets! In my closet I must have white T-shirts, I love white T-shirts.


FA: What are your future plans? Are you planning to open another store somewhere else?
I’m planning to open a store in the U.S. I’m working towards that because a lot of people from the U.S are interested in my designs.

FA: Would you want to work on a line for women as well?
Yes I am thinking about it a clothing line for women, it is in my future plans and also kids’ clothes

FA: Are we going to see any of your collections in Haiti?
Yes, last year I brought my collection to Haiti but it wasn’t as successful back then but it is in my plan to bring my designs back to Haiti and eventually open a store in Haiti.


Eklà Beauté: Your Getaway Beauty Salon

On October 1st, I was invited to the soft opening of a new hair salon called “Eklà Beauté” located on Rue Rebecca. Stepping inside the small salon, I was greeted by a calm and relaxing music, along with a soothing and zen decor: wooden furniture and accent pieces, candles, and Buddha heads, designed by owner Christina Fils-Aimé. I was instantly filled with an overwhelming peaceful sensation, which I thought was very odd for a hair salon.



But that was exactly her goal. To create a small place where her clients can leave their worries and workload outside while getting pampered. A place where her clients can be fully attended to without being rushed and without the crowdedness of typical hair salons. A place that works by appointment only because one on one is extremely important. “I want it to be 100% about my clients. I want them to walk out feeling good about themselves and with a smile on their faces. That’s what I enjoy most of my job, to be able to put a smile on my clients’ faces”. 


For us women, getting our hair and nails done is a weekly obligation. Be it to get a wash and blow dry, a hair coloring, or simply a mani-pedi, us women spend a minimum of 2 hours getting dolled-up at the hair salon on week-ends. Needless to say that hair salons have become a meeting point, or better yet a social encounter where the latest gossips travel under the boisterous sound of hair dryers.


If you are looking to escape the cacophony of hair salons, then Eklà Beauté is the “getaway” salon for you. While her specialty is hair coloring and hair treatment, Tina also offers various other salon services such as blow dries, hairdos, mani-pedi, and makeup with also a selection of hair products available for sale.


Christina, “Tina” left Haiti at the age of 18 and moved to New York. There, she became a hair colorist and makeup artist and worked in many hair salons before eventually working for Kérastase and L’Oréal. At 30 years old, she moved back to Haiti and left the hair and makeup business. However her love for fashion and hair care pushed her to go back to the hair business. “Everybody has their own beauty, and as long as I can bring that out for them, to me is priceless.”

Eklà Beauté is open Monday-Saturday from 8AM-5PM by appointments only. To get your special treatment, call 4700-1212.

Haiti Needs You 

On Friday I had the opportunity to fly to Jeremie, one of the many towns that was severely hit by hurricane Matthew. I got to see for myself what remains of this town after the passage of Matthew and for as much as I try to share my quick visit there, words fall short to describe what I saw.


It was as if the angel of desolation had passed through the town. Houses, schools and hospitals are completely destroyed, plantations are devasted, and what’s left of the roads are covered in sludge and full of debris. In other words, the town is entirely washed out.



I am not going to fill this article with heart wrenching pictures and videos nor am I going to continue describing the desolate state in which these people are left. I am however, going to ask for each and every one of your help. The storm may have passed but tough times are only beginning. Thousands of people were left homeless and infections and contaminations are just starting. While many charitable organizations, NGOs, and foreign aids are collecting donations and are preparing relief missions to help the affected areas, I strongly suggest to do research before donating to the organization of your choice. Jeremie is only one of the towns that was harshly affected. Let’s not forget Les Cayes, Aquin, Port-Salut, Miragoanes, Anse d’Hainault, Dame-Marie, île à Vache to name just a few. A little bit can do so much and during these harsh times, let us keep in mind our nation’s motto: “l’union fait la force“.

Sow a Seed organization preparing hurricane relief mission for the South

Fondation Rose et Blanc giving out shelters to the South


Haiti is a country that has suffered enough. From a devastating earthquake, to numerous hurricanes and flooding, to dangerous and unstable political turmoils, the Haitian people always manage to come through and overcome these hard times by always holding on to one thing: faith.

Miss Universe Haiti 2016: Raquel Pelissier

25 years old, 5ft9, a degree in optometry, and a charming smile, Raquel Pelissier is our new Miss Universe Haiti 2016.


Born and raised in Haiti, Raquel is passionate about aerial skills (acrobatics hanging from a fabric), she practices cross fit regularly, and enjoys cooking and reading on her free time. She is currently finishing her master’s degree in scientific research, her love for Haiti pushed her to apply for  the Miss Haiti pageant to accomplish her life long dream of being able to represent her country and will do so at the Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines in January.

10 questions with Miss Universe Haiti 2016

What incited you to apply for miss haiti ?
I chose to apply for the Miss Haiti pageant because I wanted to represent my country. I realized that Haiti is the foundation of the woman I am today. I am Haiti. Winning a crown is my way of giving back to the land that bore me since it gives me the opportunity to expose its colors and culture abroad. I want to change the way the rest of the world sees us and make a good impact.


Who inspires you?
I am truly inspired by an author who fights for protocol and values in the Haitian society. Her name is Galy and I have the honor to be her daughter. I admire her so much that I want to continue what she started and pass on everything she had thought me for a better education in the society.


What are some challenges you encountered during the pageant?
One of the challenges I encountered in the pageant was, having to be on my heels sometimes at 5 am and looking pretty. Those moments were truly those which made me realized not only that my goal was not easy but also that I was determined enough to make sacrifices to reach it.

Another challenge is to always be ready. Most of the time when they were filming us, we only had one shot so we had to make sure to give our best.



What are some of the best moments you shared during the competition?
My two favorite moments were the first and last day of the pageant. The first day because it was a day full of excitement during which I met all the candidates that have been selected for the competition and the last day because it was the day I realized that participating in Miss Haiti 2016 was the best choice I have ever made.


How was/is your diet as a miss haiti contestant? Any diet or fitness tips  you can share with us?
I wouldn’t say I’m on a diet I have just adopted a lifestyle about four years which consists of eating healthy and working out around 8-9 hours a week. However, now that I am going to compete internationally I have to go on a strict diet and add more cardio to my routine so as to lose a few more pounds. My tip is to always be aware of what you are putting into your system. Read or do your research because nothing is more valuable than health.


How were your relationship with the other contestant?
During the pageant, I got along pretty well with all the contestants. I am truly grateful to have met all these dedicated and strong women with a great vision and love for the country. I never felt like I was competing against them. My only competitor has always been myself.


Have you felt at some point of the competition that someone else might win?
When I applied for Miss Haiti, I was aiming the Miss Universe Crown. I knew I fit the international standards to represent Haiti in this pageant since Miss Universe is about being confidently beautiful, elegant and classy. Even though, I never felt threatened by anyone, I had recognized the strong contestants of the pageant and I have learned a lot from them which gave me a stronger reason to focus and do my best at all times.


As a contestant, what are your thoughts on the miss haiti organization? And what do you think can be done in order to improve the organization and the process?
I personally think that the Miss Haiti Organization did an amazing job. It is tough work handling 20 young women. Behind the scenes, there was good energy and team spirit but also moments of tears and tension and they always kept things in order at all times so they really deserve the credit for that. For improvement, I would propose to add to the agenda more hours public speaking, protocol classes and runway so as to make a greater impact.


What’s next for you as miss universe haiti? When and where will you go to the miss universe competition?
I will represent Haiti in the 65th edition of Miss Universe in Philippines in January. Before that, I am also going to Bolivia to represent Haiti in Reina hispanoamericana in November.


What can we expect from you as miss universe haiti? Any special project or vision you can share with us ?
My project for Haiti consists of teaching the youth manners and values. I also want to fight for community service to be included at school so that everyone can contribute for a cleaner and better Haiti.

 

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.

 

Item of the Week: Long Denim Jacket

This week item of the week is the Zara long denim jacket.

 Denim has been a favorite trend for quite some time now. Most stores even have a denim section with items such as shirts, jackets, skirts, overalls etc…

I found this long denim jacket from Zara’s I am Denim collection. Long sleeves, ripped details, and side pockets, this jacket can be worn as a dress alone or over different outfit as a jacket.


 Scroll below for different looks:




Picture credit: Verdy Verna
Location: Fort-Jacques, Haiti

Item of the Week: Pom-Pom Sandals

Pom-poms seem to be everywhere this year and are the perfect add-on quirkiness to most accessories: keychains, totes, wallets, backpacks etc.. This summer, we are seeing these playful pom-poms on Sandals, both heels and flats, and are the perfect complement to a summer’s outfit.

From sandals, to heels, to even lace ups, it is no wonder that this vacation-ready trend is one of the hottest this summer.

 Aquazzura’s Pom Pom 105 Sandals are a favorite amongst Karueche and Rihanna



Model Amanda Vanderziel in playful flats from Greek shoe designer Elina Linardaki