AlterNatives Boutique strives to connect indigenous producers to the transparent and genuine side of direct trade and fair trade, thus allowing communities to strengthen themselves through development projects. By working towards creating a sustainable livelihood for communities around the world, AlterNatives is changing lives not only today, but for generations to come.
One of the communities AlterNatives Boutique is committed to supporting is the artisans of Haiti through fair trade and solidarity trade. To begin with, let’s look at the significance of Haitian metal art.
This form of metal artistry can be dated back to the early 1950s by a black man named Georges Liautuad of Croix-des-Bouquets. He began his work by making metal crosses for graves, and when American painter DeWitt Peters noticed Liautuad’s work, he encouraged him to design decorative sculptures and other works of art from scrap metal. After gaining more recognition, Liautuad taught apprentices who would continue this tradition of turning steel oil drums from the Port-au-Prince harbor into artistic forms of expression.
This intricate piece depicting the beautiful aquatic life of seahorses, entitled “Seahorse Family,” was designed by Charles Luthern, and within each sold lies a story. This work of art was born out of repurposed oil drums, and designed through skilled techniques of hammering. Each piece is decorated by hand as artisans work to the sound of music created by the hammering. However, there is more within this product than what meets the eye.
AlterNatives Boutique sources this merchandise from Beyond Borders, which allocates funds to end child slavery and prevent violence towards women. Beyond Borders has been a member since 2007 of the Fair Trade Federation, which aims for North American businesses to encourage fair and sustainable trade in an effort to reduce poverty. Beyond Borders is a wholesale company that forms direct relationships with numerous Haitian artists in Croix-des-Bouquets to promote their products. They emphasize high quality and craftsmanship, and through their fifteen-year-long relationship with these artisans, have improved the livelihood of many producers.
With every purchase made, not only are the lives of Haitian artisans changed, but of an entire community.
Written by Daphne Pang