deux mains is an ethical and sustainable fashion brand based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It is the partner social enterprise to nonprofit REBUILD globally, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Haiti through education and job training programs.
The story of deux mains truly began in Haiti on January 12, 2010. As a response to the 2010 earthquake, Julie Colombino founded REBUILD globally after finding that the women who survived the horrible disaster were looking for ways to recover. To assist them, she opened a small training center and taught these women to make sandals from the tires found in the streets.
Now, REBUILD globally is a developed nonprofit organization that continues to address the complex issues of poverty by identifying the most vulnerable populations and targeting the root problem – the lack of education and job readiness. Their goal is to replace the conventional methods of charitable aid with a thriving social entrepreneurial ecosystem. After years of working in the most vulnerable communities, they found that the most impactful way to lessen the effects of poverty was through their social enterprise model that combined the efforts of the nonprofit organization with the for-profit ethical fashion business.
In 2015, deux mains, a locally owned social impact factory that handcrafts sandals from locally sourced and recycled materials, was incubated by REBUILD globally. Through their expert guidance, start-up capital and training, deux mains developed into its own Haitian-owned business and fashion brand, which is now producing an entirely ethical fashion collection and employing dozens of Haitian artisans and refugees to create something valuable, in addition to a meaningful life for themselves. Since beginning production, deux mains has continued growing, even opening a new factory and creating an innovative manufacturing system that has doubled production, enabled a dozen more jobs and is powered by 100% solar energy.
The deux mains workshop is located just nineteen degrees north of the equator. It is there that their unique sandals begin to take shape: the recycled tire soles are cut and thinned by REBUILD globally refugees and brought to life by Haitian artisans using locally sourced leathers, fabrics and findings. Every aspect of each individually crafted product is designed and perfected by these local, talented artisan-owners, and provides dignified, sustainable employment that changes lives:
- deux mains pays an average of 184% the local minimum wage, plus daily production bonuses. Financial security and improved quality of life are reported by their entire team, including food security, ability to send kids to school and having medical needs met.
- deux mains employees receive social services, training and support through the partnership with REBUILD globally.
- They utilize local techniques and design in combination with international fashion trends and standards. The result is a product line as authentic as the hands that crafted it.
- Three of their Haitian managers are financial shareholders. That provides a sense of ownership, encouraging high levels of work ethic, instilling pride and aiding in the development of a Haitian middle class.
- Production prevents the improper disposal of tires and rubber in Haiti. Tires and inner tube are regularly burned in Haiti, releasing harmful toxins into the atmosphere. Using recycled materials protects both people and the planet.
- Nearly 100% of materials for production are sourced in Haiti, which promotes investment in the local supply chain and increases economic opportunities in the country. By sourcing materials locally, deux mains can guarantee transparency and dignity throughout the supply chain.
Each deux mains purchase makes a real difference, from the employment and job training programs with REBUILD globally, to the use of local and sustainable materials and to the hands that carefully construct each element of the finished products. Every step you take in deux mains sandals turns poverty into prosperity.
Shop deux mains products in SEA’s Valentines Day Gift Guide and their online store (use code SEA20 for 20% off!) and follow them on Instagram as @deuxmainsdesigns.
To learn more about deux mains, check out their member directory profile.