Six years ago, an earthquake devastated Haiti. On January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring a catastrophic 7.0 on the Richter scale hit the impoverished nation of Haiti. At the time, I worked for an international development services company. For the first few hours, we didn't even know if our employees were safe. Our democracy and governance project turned from one of helping to improve local governance to one helping with an emergency crisis. Our project team on ground helped those involved in the project and immediate area, as well as those nearby them to survive and rebuild their lives, while being able to provide other relief and humanitarian services because of their proximity and project management abilities.
The already weak infrastructure of Haiti was more or less obliterated with the earthquake. Aid came in droves, but little of it reached the actual citizens. The Macy's Heart of Haiti program is one that touches me because of how close to home its message and cause hits me. This program that launched shortly after the earthquake made a difference and continues to do so to this day. Macy’s made the bold decision to carry a line of handmade goods made by Haiti’s rich artist community and offer the products to Macy’s customers to benefit the good of the artist.
Macy’s Heart of Haiti offers beautiful handmade metal bowls crafted by artisans in Haiti. These individually handcrafted unique bowls would make gorgeous decor for anyone's home.
To date, over 550 Haitian artists make their livelihood by creating goods for sale at Macys.com and a few select stores. While other aid organizations have come and gone, Macy’s has remained, making a commitment to the artists and providing proof that American shoppers appreciate gifts that make a difference while looking beautiful, too.
The country of Haiti is rich in the arts, and despite being the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, metal artisans, papier mache artisans, and skilled crafts people are anxious to work and earn a living to support their families. While other organization have come and gone, Macy’s has remained in Haiti since shortly after the earthquake, deepening their commitment to this “Trade not Aid” initiative. The program is not a charity.
Macy’s has joined forces with the artisans in Haiti to develop a beautiful product line for sale and began featuring this product line on Macys.com and in select stores shortly after the Haiti Earthquake. Here’s a video that tells the story of how the project started and the difference it is making in the lives of Haitian artists.
The Heart of Haiti papier mache collection is handcrafted in Jacmel, a beautiful town on Haiti’s southern coast. The artists use paper bags with paste made from local plants to create these beautifully detailed trays and vases. Several of Jacmel’s streets are well populated by small papier mache ateliers busy with the quiet work of molding paper, painting it with intricate patterns, or covering it with natural leaves and other plant material.
Haiti has an estimated 400,000 artisans (out of a 10M population) who rely solely on their handcrafted goods as a source of income. No other sector of employment even approaches such numbers.
Presently the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line is only available online and at a few select Macy’s stores: Herald Square, Downtown Brooklyn, Downtown DC’s Metro Center, Chicago’s State Street, San Francisco’s Union Park, Downtown Seattle, Dallas Gallaria, Downtown Portland (Ore), Atlanta’s Lenox Square, Dallas Galleria Mall, and Miami Dadeland.