THE TECHNIQUE : LEATHERWORK
Several artisans working with The Little Market create elegant products that are handmade from leather. At Haiti Design Co-op, 15 men, who are led by head manager Cenice, are skilled in leatherwork. When they began working as a team, they called themselves “Ekip Solid,” or “Solid Team.” This title continues to be appropriate for the talented group of artisans. The leather at Haiti Design Co-op is locally sourced from a family-owned tannery within the country, and the group specializes in durable, full-grain, and vegetable-tanned leather.
In Dallas, Texas, GAIA’s female artisans design beautiful leather tassels. These tassels are made from genuine suede and lambskin leather that are sourced from partner Global Leathers out of New York City, as well as brass lobsters and brown leather loops, which are from a local Dallas partner, Tandy Leather. Mother and daughter-in-law Huda and Bothina made the leather tassels that can be found in our curated collection. It takes approximately 20 minutes to make these fair trade pieces. The artisans cut the leather, roll the materials carefully, and then glue them together. Huda and Bothina arrived in the United States in December of 2015, and they’ve been working at GAIA for approximately one year now. Bothina has been promoted from Refugee Artisan to Refugee Artisan Coordinator and Trainer, and she’s also the first female refugee GAIA has promoted to this position.
GAIA’s mission is to empower marginalized refugee women living in Dallas, Texas through employment, encouragement, and dedication to their long-term success here in the US The refugee women transform vintage and artisan-made textiles into home and and personal accessories, with a focus on sustainability and quality design. Through a living wage and continued training and development, GAIA’s goal is to help lead these resilient women to financial independence and self-sufficiency.
Haiti Design Co-op is a community-based nonprofit that was founded in 2014 by Josh and Chandler Busby. The main mission behind the organization is to create sustainable development through design, training, and job creation; the nonprofit’s mantra comes from an old Haitian proverb that means “Many hands make the load light.” All of the artisans at Haiti Design Co-op work together, and the organization and community development committee provide resources such as healthcare and educational seminars on leadership development training and mental health awareness.