In spite of the many challenges that founder and CEO Shelley Clay of Papllion Enterprise has encountered—from business start up procedures to illiterate artisans who don’t know their colors to the overall dysfunction and insecurities of Haiti—the organization still manages to produce colorful and trendy items from recycled goods and natural resources.
“We started our project by recycling used cereal boxes and making them into beads…Our artisans cut thin strips of cereal boxes and essentially roll them on bamboo skewers to form a bead. We then glue and varnish them with lead free varnish and then the beads are ready to be used in our unique designs,” explained Clay in an email.
The organization has expanded to other types of craft including making hand-made paper from used paper, and using the clay found in the central plateau of Haiti to make both beads and pottery. Clay adds, “We work with artisans from Criox des Bouquets to design metal art out of 55 gallon drums. We also use old burlap coffee bags (which Haitians sell for prayer rugs) to make purses, jewelry bags and stuffed animals. Lastly, we recycle aluminum cans and make buttons and embellishments to go on our jewelry and textiles. Our artisans hand cut, sand, and stamp with letter stamps to do custom designs for our products.”
The number of artisans employed fluctuates depending on orders that need to be filled, but Clay notes that they do much more than provide employment opportunities. “We are teaching them many things that we take for granted in a North American context.”
Many of the artisans come to Papillion Enterprises not knowing how to roll the beads. Training includes teaching skills from master artisans—potters, glass workers, seamstresses, metal artisans and woodworkers—to start new product lines.
From February 1-4, Papillion Enterprise will attend Artisan Resource at NY Now™. They will be exhibiting ornaments and wall decor. These items are “more mainstream than the traditional artwork that Haiti is known for. Our hope is to create something more broadly marketable that will result in exponentially more jobs in Haiti,” said Clay.
For more information, please visit www.papillionenterprise.com.