Up in the Air


“Up in the air” describes the activities that are happening with Local Buttons right now. Our samples may or may not have reached Jacquemel by now via airmail. We were putting together a package and including design instructions for our partners in Jacquemel. It was so hot, we were both feeling tired. We were trying to write clear explanations, we were drinking ice coffees to cool down and wake up, when it suddenly it occurred to me. And I was awake! “Anne! We are sending samples that will be made into vests by garment sewers in Jacquemel! Pretty soon we are going to receive a package in Toronto with their interpretation of the designs!” It’s real. Cameron will receive our samples in Jacquemel and make sure the garment sewers get the instructions. It’s in the hands of our Haitian partners! We are delighted and as curious as two young entrepreneurs can be. ie. we rejoiced once again.

“Up in the air” not only refers to our vests. It refers to the entire Peace by Piece project, also known as the Kennedy Line. Peace by Piece is the name Anne and I came up with. The Kennedy line was introduced to us as a brand for the project by Cameron and Toni. They told us it has already gained the interest of the big retail and donor community. Anne and I are still learning more about President Kennedy’s affiliation to used clothing in Haiti. We have been told that he was the first president to send used clothing into “developing countries”. We would like to know if any of you know something about the connection or have any comments?

Our partnership with Brandaid is very informative and rewarding. Our project has gained momentum thanks to the connections Brandaid has made in Haiti. However as Local Buttons, the smaller business, we feel slightly vulnerable as there remains to be so much “up in the air” . Specifically we remain concerned about covering our business costs and the cost of the labour on the Haitian side. Our priority, at any cost, is that the business remains ethical and mutually beneficial. We will request to see the outline of how labour and payment will be carried out. We also feel documents and pictures will give us more confidence in and connection to the project.

Anne and I recently picked up a book “Waging War on the Poor Majority: Canada in Haiti”, by Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton. The book is grounding me in the roots of why our efforts in Jacquemel are relevant. The Government of Canada has not been there for Haiti in the past but rather has contributed to the fabrication of the social hardship that exists there today. The book so far is an informative read on this subject and has instilled in me a sense of responsibility. Haiti is not the only country to which apologies and amendments should be made. However it is the country I am involved with since the creation of our ethical fashion show. The fruits of our work with Local Buttons has shown me that focus leads to results…hence samples being flown to Jacquemel to contribute to the local living economy.

Maybe “up in the air” is more positive and exciting than nerve wracking in our situation.

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