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How do you pick your artisans?
Most of the artisans we work with are very marginalized people from the informal sector. We pick our artisans mainly for their skills: they are usually part of community groups of micro-artisans specialized in some form of artisanal work ranging from weaving, beading, embroidery, metal work, tailoring etc.
What training do your artisans receive?
All our artisans receive on-the-job training linked to market demand: we don’t train artisans, then try to sell a new design, rather we train them specifically on the very designs of our fashion partners. For example the artisans in Burkina Faso who do the weaving for Stella Jean have been trained to weave on larger looms (1m width) compared their traditional looms (30cm) which is a better size to produce garmenting. Our artisans in Kenya who do beadwork receive specialized training for every new collection on the new design and on quality. We also do training on business skills such as accounting, management, and on social issues e.g. HIV prevention, water & sanitation, fair labour practices etc.
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Where is the atelier located in Haiti?
We don’t work in a single atelier but with several groups of micro-artisans, as described above. Some are in Cite Soleil, some are in Pacot, others are part of the metalwork cluster of Croix des Bouquets… Stella Jean is also doing product development with groups which are based in rural areas of Haiti, but we will keep this a secret until the collection is released!
What is the goal of the EFI for Haiti?
To create sustainable jobs for some of the most vulnerable people in Haiti, which will in turn enable them to change their lives for the better. Beyond the direct, immediate benefits of working and earning an income, we also aim to empower these artisans, who by working for high-end luxury brands gain new skills and new levels of quality that improve their export capacity in the international value chain.
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Who are your partners in Haiti?
The groups are as mentioned above, otherwise we work with a very small team of local professionals who have extensive experience in this sector.
What do you want us to share about the Haiti EFI project?
That Haiti is one of the most magical and culturally rich places in the world, where you can find real, authentic creativity. We would like to world, the fashion industry in particular, to appreciate these unique qualities and to be able to collaborate with Haitian artisans in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner.
For more information about the Ethical Fashion Initiative go to: http://www.intracen.org/itc/projects/ethical-fashion/