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The Clinton Foundation and Caribbean Craft

The HELP Bracelet on TV!

The HELP Bracelet Project

We are working with the Clinton Foundation, World Vision and CHOOSEHAITI to make and sell one million bracelets we created. Made from recycled plastic bottles and paper mache, their symbolism is to send back to the US some of the water bottle we received with the news of our recovery... This video shows the first training session in a refugee camp administered by World Vision. Forty women are being shown how to make those bracelets and after three days will be handcrafting them in their homes/tents. This project will give work to several hundred of workers. Some of them will probably continue after the project and, who knows, maybe we will have new craft businesses opening in Haiti...

June 2010 Newsletter

June 2010

Atlanta's showroom in January before the earthquake

In January - before the earthquake that destroyed most of Port-au-Prince - we were in Atlanta's AmericasMart. We changed some of the panels, added new items: painted trophies, bookmarks, luggage tags and furniture made with paper mache.

Here is a video of the showroom.

Caribbean Craft Showroom


We would like to thank all those who helped us keep on going. This has been a very tough time for us, our workers and the independent artisans we work with. It is still very tough. But when we see some of our workers eagerness to work, to go on with their lives - how can Yvresse go over the loss of his only daughter born 15 days before? How can Philippe still smile when he saw his mother die? - the hardships of the rebuilding appear lighter.

This thank you note goes especially to the following (in no particular order):

Melody Bales of Lady From Haiti in Naples, FL.-  one of our long time and most faithful customers;

The people from ATA (Aid To Artisans) - Colleen, Anne, Alden, David to name just a few

Jonathan Williams of Tesoros Trading Company - without you we might have quit...

The people from VivaTerra - Susan being our most enthusiastic supporter;

The people of Ten Thousand Villages - Doug, Kathleen, Craig and Joyce (also to name just a few)

Elizabeth Lutzi from Pine Island Cruises and Variety Store in St. James City, FL.

You all not only gave us prepaid orders, some not knowing when we might resume production, but you also sent money to help reconstruction or to help directly our workers.

We would also like to thank :

President Clinton and President Bush for their visit which brought hope (and a lot of pride!) to our workers.


Caribbean Craft Reconstruction Plan

On January 12 2010 our world and lives changed.  Most saw everything they had worked for their entire life disappear in 35 seconds. Some lost their lives… All our artisans are living in street camps, with no other protection against the elements than a bed sheet. Luckily for us there has been no rain since the quake. But the rainy season is not far away.

The earthquake that almost completely destroyed Port-au-Prince hit the world media like a stone - but we know that will be temporary... In a few weeks or days it will be replaced by other events. What is important now is to focus some of our attention to rebuilding. The humanitarian crisis is not over yet and we still have our share to do there. But there will be another crisis if we do not start working on the future.

With the economic crisis that hit the world, Caribbean Craft has been fighting hard to keep all its workers for the last 2 years. We invested a lot to expand our activities; we went directly to the customers’ doors, and we designed totally new collections to access new markets. It was a tough challenge but we loved it, and we started to see great results by the middle of 2009 and especially with the NYIGF in August 2009 and Atlanta show in January 2010.

Now the fight has to be refought. This fight will be at the same time easier and harder. Easier because we have the clients, the markets, the know-how and the good will of all. The designs are there, the orders are waiting to be produced. Harder because we do not have the place to produce them as efficiently as before. Our 40,000 square feet building has been deemed totally unsecure. We will have to micro manage production in several small places: in a 8000 square feet covered place near the airport that will serve as stock and offices, in a tarp covered open space – at least until the hurricane season starts – next to these offices, and at a one hour drive from the airport, in our backyard court under a 2400 square feet tent.

This solution is only temporary: we need to find a place to resume our work as before. Or better than before. The challenge will not only be to get a great product in the market. It will also be to be able to produce enough, and at a reasonable price, to satisfy the demand. All the big buildings in Port-au-Prince are either already occupied, heavily damaged or in rubbles. We will thus need to build a new facility of at least 30,000 square feet as soon as possible. We found a terrain, worth $250,000.00, at a suitable location next to the airport, which could accomodate the new facility. We contacted several building companies and chose an offer from MBMI.BIZ

We have prepared a plan detailing what we want to do and how we will achieve it. You can download it there:

The short term plan focuses on resuming production as fast as possible. To achieve this we need to help our workers who have lost everything - up to now we know of 25 of them in this tragic situation and we also need to help those who still have something left: they do not have enough to pay for the trip to get to work or to buy food. As said above, we lost our workplace and need to find tents, tarps and a warehouse for our stock and offices. Our truck was damaged during the earthquake and needs to be replaced to go from one place to the other…

For the long term the investments will be very heavy. Time wise, work wise and money wise. The first two we will manage. The money is something else…, we will need all the help we can get. Several of our clients have already contributed generously, either in cash or in loan promises. Several others have promised to help by giving as many orders as they can. Others want to send food, tents, and blankets for our workers (but the logistics for sending these to Haiti is not obvious).

If you want to help us, sending a check to our NY Bank account is the best way. Every cent will be useful. Please note that whatever gift you send us is not tax deductible. If you want your donation to be used for a specific part of the plan please note it on the check.

Thank You.
Magalie and Joel

Make checks payable to:
     West Indies Exporters
     a/c No 1705-218-4
and sent to:
     West Indies Exporters
     c/o M&T Bank
     350 Park Ave,
     New York, NY 10022,

If you would rather make a wire transfer: ABA No 022000046; SWIFT code MANTUS33

Inside the building

At the back of the building the columns have cracked at their base, the concrete broke, leaving the steel apparent. These steel bars have been twisted by the force of the quake.

 This video shows the worse of the damage: one of the central pillar, holding the roof, collapsed. The roof structure has been weakened, the adjacent columns have cracks in their base and in their top and are leaning. The office building has sunk a little bit in the ground. If it rains it will sink a little bit more and pull the roof down.


Videos of the workplace after the earthquake

This is the entrance to the offices. The first employee we usually met when entering was Ernst Jean Philippe. He had been with us since the end of the 70s. He was in charge of preparing the payrolls. and lending money to the workers. His body was found under the rubbles of the Caribbean Market where he went to buy some bread for his family.

The other side of the cracked walls: this was the showroom and the dining room for the office employees.

Revamped showroom

We added a few new items in the showroom (they will soon be available online). Check the video - bad quality as usual :-) - in youtube: Atlanta 2010

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