Sustaining Jobs and Clean Water in Haiti Via Fashion Accessories
Brigit Grossmann and Lori Manuel Steed’s accessories company is on a mission to provide clean water and jobs to Haiti.
Grossmann, who has lived in Haiti for the past 17 years, and Lori Manuel Steed, a native who still resides there, launched Simbi, Haiti, a for-profit accessories company,
in 2012. The company was founded in conjunction with Aqua Haiti, a nonprofit foundation, as an answer to bringing sustainable jobs and clean water to various regions in Haiti following the devastating outbreak of cholera in 2010.
The accessories collection began with a hybrid accessory—a bracelet that can be worn on the wrist or used to tie hair without creasing or ripping hair. The company still offers hair ties/bracelets in addition to headbands, twill jewelry and clay bracelets. Materials are sourced in Haiti, the United States, the Dominican Republic and China, and everything is designed, made and sold from Haiti.
“Simbi’s uniqueness is attributed to our hip, one-of-a-kind products and our stylish designs with select styles inspired by Haitian art and culture,” said Brigit Grossmann. “Each Simbi
product sold provides clean water and is handmade, which provides sustainable employment to the people of Haiti.” The company currently employs 50 local women.
Aqua Haiti is based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and was founded by the owners of Simbi USA Inc. to support, promote and finance water purification throughout the country. The foundation is funded through a portion of proceeds donated from sales of Simbi fashion accessories. Each Simbi item sold provides funding to purify at least 1 gallon of water per day, enough to support two people. The Aqua Haiti foundation has paid for and installed two water-filtration systems to date—one of them for an orphanage and the other for the local community.
Wholesale prices are $1.25 for hair-tie/bracelets, $2.50 for headbands, $2.75 for twill and $13 for clay bracelets.
For more information, visit www.simbihaiti.com.