The Cause Bar Changemaker Series: An Interview with Julie Colombino, Founder deux mains
- Brooks Dibble
…a wonderful thing when something good emerges from tragedy? So is the case for deux mains, a lifestyle brand that is helping Haitian artisans rebuild their lives following the tragic earthquake that hit the country in 2010. As a response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Julie Colombino founded a nonprofit organization REBUILD globally, and opened a small training center to teach Haitian women to make sandals from tires found in the streets. Over the year, through the efforts of REBUILD globally, deux mains was able to spin off into its own official Haitian business and fashion brand.
TCB: Can you please share more on your mission?
JC: deux mains is an ethical footwear and fashion company transforming the manufacturing industry by ensuring products are designed to protect the environment, craftsmen and women are protected by policy, and consumers have the power to consume responsibly. We are: Made to Engage. Made to Empower. Made in Haiti.
…What’s your proudest moment thus far?
JC: By opening and scaling a social impact factory in post-earthquake Haiti, deux mains has already beaten all of the odds, but 2018 has been a revolutionary year. Our vision to create a new competitive manufacturing system, blending industrial practices with handmade craftsmanship to produce unique and custom footwear and fashion accessories has come to fruition. Today, deux mains has brought more than $1MM of business to post-earthquake Haiti, a footwear factory that runs completely from solar energy, and dignified, living-wage employment opportunities to hundreds of Haitians. I saw an opportunity to introduce innovative manufacturing into the recovery efforts and the fight against extreme poverty in Haiti in 2010…and the story of deux mains, as well as my journey from disaster relief worker to fashion entrepreneur, is just the stepping stone into the life of a company built from the ashes of the earthquake.
TCB: What impact can a customer expect to make with the purchase of a piece from your collection?
JC: Participating in eco and sustainable purchasing has so many incredible benefits. When buying deux mains, customers know the makers behind the products are not only paid a living wage, those very same craftsmen and women have ownership in the business. Our customers are active participants in transforming a system that keeps poor people poor. Deux mains customers truly allow good business to thrive as 100% of their purchase goes back into the Haitian business.
…What’s next for deux mains?
JC: We are launching a brand-new collection called “Ethical for Everyone” in which we are producing sustainable and eco-friendly products that are competitive with main stream market prices.
TCB: Most important advice for The Cause Bar community?
JC: Never give up. It’s easier said than done so you have to surround yourself with people who will pick you up when you fall and let you pick them up when they need to fall. It’s a balancing act but one that is so possible to face when you have the right people by your side.
More Ways to Get Hands-On Involved with deux mains:
Pack your bags and see first-hand the impact the brand is making in Haiti by attending the grand-opening of Haiti’s only social impact, solar powered footwear factory! January 11-14, 2019 Tickets are still available on the website.
Party: Become a deux mains ambassador or a party host, a unique shopping experience where impact meets fashion – and fun.
Runway in a Box: Put your friends and family on the catwalk and support ethical fashion with a custom fashion show. Deux mains creates the show, your team volunteers as models, and everyone has a great time!
Educate, Inspire and Inform: Invite Julie or the deux mains team to speak at your next event.
Private Label & Custom Designs: Whether you want to add a personal touch to our products with your company logo, or create an entirely new design, the deux mains team would love to work with you.
Visit https://deuxmains.com/pages/get-involved to learn more.