As natural disasters have repeatedly devastated and decimated the Caribbean over the past decade, perhaps nowhere has been harder hit than Haiti. In 2010 the country—already considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere—was all but destroyed by an earthquake estimated to be between 7.1 and 7.3 magnitude in strength. By 2016 it had still yet to recover when Hurricane Matthew wrought further devastation.
Haitian-born designer Joelle Fontaine hopes to breathe new life into her birthplace with her high-fashion womenswear label, I Am Kréyol, which recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to bring production of the line’s latest collection, “Lotus,” to Haiti and jobs to Haitian women. Fontaine, a second-generation designer, explains the label’s mission:
My mother, Yolette, and I left a beautiful life in Haiti in the midst of political unrest in the late ’80s when her fashion boutique was burned down. She lost everything and had to begin again.
Over these past few years, we have been creating, with a goal to maximize and grow the I Am Kréyol fashion brand. Our mission is simple. We seek to empower women to change their narrative and create the life they envision.
Our garments are made to enhance our customers’ inner beauty and sense of confidence while impacting the lives of women back home. We are seeking to produce our garments in Haiti to work with skilled artisans to provide the opportunity for sustainable income and creativity in the workforce.
I Am Kréyol has been lauded by Conde Nast Traveler, Teen Vogue, Improper Bostonian and Boston Magazine. Lotus, the capsule collection it hopes to begin producing this month, was recently shown during London Fashion Week and reflects the mission of the campaign: “[I]nspired by the beautiful flower with the penchant for growing in some of the harshest of environments, the Lotus collection illustrates a woman’s tenacity to be strong, resilient and powerful even in the midst of adversity.”
The campaign is currently just shy of $10,000 of a $30,000 goal, with three days left to pledge. This Saturday, April 7, I Am Kréyol will host a collection preview at SoHo fashion boutique Wolf & Badger in New York City, featuring a performance by Brooklyn-based Haitian songstress and artist Riva Nyri.
The Glow Up tip: To support the I Am Kréyol campaign and see key pieces from the Lotus collection, visit its Indiegogo page. To view and shop past collections, visit its website.