We started Mi Ossa in 2011 after volunteering, post-earthquake, to build houses near the mountain village of St. Etienne, Haiti. We were amazed and inspired to see creativity persevering everywhere in the midst of such devastation. We knew we had to come back. Within a year, we were collaborating with horn and steel artisans to develop our line.
Horn has been used since ancient times for adornment. It is an upcycled, sustainable material, central to Christelle Paul’s designs at Ateliér Calla. She is a leading entrepreneur in the emerging Haitian fashion industry. Her team makes our “Brazlé Elektrik.”
The best hand-chiseled, recycled steel comes from the village of Croix-des-Bouquets. These artisans hammer out intricate designs with a nail or small chisel. At our studio in Charlottesville, Virginia we gild bracelets, handbag ornaments and pendants with white gold, rubbing them down until they have the look and feel of an artifact.
On a trip two weeks ago, we were hell-bent on connecting with more women artisan/entrepreneurs. In Leogane, we met powerhouse-single-mom of 12, Marie Lisa Lafontant who employs 16 artisans in her ateliér. They create hand-beaded Vodou “drapeaux”, flags, that are collected around the world. We took her some designs for bags and she agreed to work with us.
Everything in Haiti is rare and precious. Real luxury is defined as something rare. By the time the pieces get to Charlottesville, they have travelled so far they are downright sacred to us. We are so thankful to be connected to these talented artisans. Work, not charity, is what we hope will rebuild this beautiful country. Stay tuned for our next visit. In the meantime, shop Mi Ossa on Taigan. Viv Ayiti!!!
Until next time, XO– Shannon and Nora
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