“The gunfire around us makes it hard to hear. But the human voice is different from other sounds. It can be heard over noises that bury everything else. Even when it's not shouting. Even when it's just a whisper. Even the lowest whisper can be heard, over armies, when it's telling the truth.” (Pollack, Bevan, Fellner & Misher, 2005).
I heard this quote more than 15 years ago when I was a young college student. I could not explain why it haunted me. At the time, I had never experienced real danger, so I could not relate. These words stuck with me, however, and planted themselves deep in my subconscious.
A few weeks ago, my colleague sent a voice memo from our factory, bravely and calmly narrating the latest tenor of Haiti’s capital city of Port Au Prince, as gunshots echoed in the background through our neighborhood. As I listened anxiously, these words came flooding to my mind, resounding like a prophetic message that I heard more than a decade before.
At Deux Mains, we have made it our prerogative to illuminate Haiti’s untold story. Our narrative has been unwavering – that this island nation, where we built a business and now call home, is tragically misunderstood. Attesting that the media has been unkind and unfair to this land, we have sought to prove that Haiti is strong, stoic and beautiful, with creativity and potential seeping from its shores.
This is the truth that we continue to share, despite such trying times. We are bound by the inspiration that we draw from Haiti’s beauty and extremity. We are a team of makers and creators who strive to produce vibrant originality from this island, in spite of the noises that bury everything else.
Though we tend to err on the side of optimism, these days have tested us. While the media often exaggerates the realities in Haiti, recent reports are not untrue. Haiti finds itself in one of its darkest passages. The assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021 set in motion an era of political chaos, where gangs now control a majority of Port Au Prince. Violence, kidnappings, fuel shortages, and a recent call for a revolution have served as building winds for a perfect storm of chaos. Masking this chaos with unwavering positivity would not be telling the full story, or the whole truth.
It’s no secret that these circumstances are not conducive to success and prosperity. The gunfire around us IS making it hard to hear, but we cannot prevail unless we stay tirelessly committed to telling the truth.
Like a wink or a nod from the universe, our most recent collection was born in the midst of this uncertainty – striking down doubts and fear with an elevated beauty and quality that could only come from the most skilled and persistent hands.
The team in Haiti has chosen to call their latest work the “Together Collection” as the woven leather featured in the designs reimagines Haiti’s cultural tradition of palm weaving. This ancestral craft, interpreted in our work, proves that together we are stronger. Weaving brings together two pieces and not only makes them one, it makes them more resilient.
The Together Collection is undoubtedly the most beautiful work we have ever created, proving that newness and progress can persist, even in the most difficult times. As my colleague Michel wrote in an Article he recently published:
“The Together Collection showcases brilliant work … While it can be stressful and even difficult sometimes, [this collection] is the physical representation of our inspiration …. In short, togetherness is the solid foundation, allowing for extraordinary things...”
Our team at Deux Mains has come to work every day in these last few months, to the soundtrack of random guns igniting in the distance. The men and women who work at Deux Mains have faced each morning with a fierce commitment to their craft, traveling to our factory to produce some of their finest work. As long as our doors have stayed open, our team has come to work.
The poignant irony that our team’s talent and creativity is at an all-time high in one of Haiti’s all-time lows is not lost on us. We are not two hands – we are many hands, and together will not stop telling the truth. The gunfire around us will not drown out the magic of Haiti and what it has to offer to the world. Haiti’s indigenous wisdom, the beauty that results, and the resolve of its people continue to represent a truth that can be heard over armies.