February 03, 2021 2 min read

At Deux Mains, our employees are our purpose. They are the reason we exist, and the reason we have stunning fashion accessories to share with the world. Our brand was born to sustainably fight poverty in Haiti. We needed to find a better way to improve the lives of those in our community, a way that did more than the traditional charity model. We learned that short-term aid has its place, but the long-term solution was sustainable employment. Today we would like to introduce you to Julia, and share how a great job has changed her life.

Julia Antoine was forcefully displaced into Haiti from the Dominican Republic – a country where she had previously been working for 20 years as a launderer and beach-side artisan.

While walking home from work one day in 2015, she describes being targeted, aggressed, and picked up in the street by Dominican Officials. Among many of the injustices she suffered, she was not even granted the chance to go home to get her children before being dumped on the Haitian side of a desert border town.

Eventually, Julia made her way to Fonds Bayard, a displacement camp near the border where Deux Mains’ partner organization, REBUILD globally was holding a job training for refugees living in that community.  In her first interview at the job training program, and in reference to her new life in the camp, Julia confessed, “I don’t know how to live like this. I was middle class in the Dominican Republic, but all that ended when I was deported for the color of my skin. It’s been a nightmare.”

Fast forward 6 years later: Julia is now one of Deux Mains’ most talented jewelry craftswomen, after having passed her training and becoming a full-time employee. She has left the camp and her tent and is now renting a home in a neighborhood nearby. She lives with her husband Fritz, and their five children whom they were able to reunite with, thanks to her paycheck. She travels 2 hours each way every day to the Deux Mains factory to create ethical fashion and support her family.  “I’m so proud to have gained a trade and to be a self-sufficient woman,” Julia recently said. “I don’t like handouts. A handout never could have brought me here.”

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