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Business with Purpose


Jul 14, 2021

My guest today is Julie Colombino-Billingham, founder of Deux Mains, which means “two hands,” a Haitian-owned and operated business that handcrafts high-quality footwear, handbags and accessories. 97% of all raw materials are repurposed or sourced locally on the island and manufactured in their 100% solar-powered factory. Use code MOLLY to get 15% off from DeuxMains at Deuxmains.com!

5:28 – Julie 101

  • She was a professional ballet dancer and worked for Cirque USA. She is also a trained disaster responder. She got a full-time job at the United Way and wanted to respond to the Haiti earthquake.

9:10 – Going to Haiti

  • Julie landed in Haiti 10 days after the earthquake and said the destruction was like nothing she had ever seen before.
  • She remembers more of what she smelled and heard versus what she saw.
  • Julie met a woman at a tent camp, and the woman said she didn’t want bottles of water – she wanted a job.

10:46 – The beginning of Deux Mains

  • After a month in Haiti, Julie came back to Florida, sold her house, quit her job at the United Way and went back to Haiti two weeks later with $7,000.
  • They raised money and started an education and job training program.

21:49 – New jobs

  • They have a beautiful factory that is all solar powered. Their goal is to create 300 new jobs in the next three years.
  • People wanted recycled fashion, but they didn’t want it to look recycled.

33:34 – The business today

  • The business has 40 employees and was able to continue during Covid. They got some government contracts.
  • They had to change their business model and now do more direct to consumer sales.

35:30 – Expanding product line

  • They didn’t want to waste anything, so they started making earrings out of leather scraps.
  • Customers started asking for specific products, including a laptop sleeve.
  • They are working on a woman’s wallet.

FEATURED QUOTES

“A woman I met in a tent camp said she didn’t want any bottles of water – she wanted a job.”

“I get to be the proud voice of many people who have made us what we are today.”

“It’s a gift anytime we get feedback – good or bad – because we’re still learning.”

CONNECT:

https://deuxmains.com/ - use code MOLLY for 15% off

ABOUT JULIE:

To sustainably fight poverty in Haiti, Julie Colombino-Billingham created a business that provides great, dignified jobs.  Deux Mains is a Haitian owned and operated business that handcrafts high-quality, footwear, handbags and accessories.  97% of all raw materials are repurposed or sourced locally on the island, and manufactured in our solar powered factory. 

In a country where 85% of the population does not have access to the formal jobs and only 1% of the population is University educated, Colombino designed a model using the best practices of the nonprofit and for profit sectors.  She incubated a nonprofit arm of the business called REBUILD globally that provides revolutionary education and paid job training programs to the most vulnerable.  Every program graduate is then guaranteed a dignified, living wage job at Deux Mains.

Under Colombino’s leadership, the past 10 years has been a dramatic evolution from earthquake recovery to a sustainable and eco-friendly business that was quickly propelled into the world of ethical fashion. Just a few of the partnerships deux mains has created include: United Nations, Kenneth Cole, Eileen Fisher, USAID and the Clinton Foundation to fight poverty and strengthen families in Haiti and provide customers a fashion accessory brand they can be proud to wear.

THANK YOU TO OUR PARTNER: 

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