Ever wonder what it’s like running an accessories designer in Haiti? Daphnée Karen Floréal is a jewelry designer based in Port-au-Prince. She’s the owner of Bijou Lakay, a jewelry and accessories line that she launched some time ago. Read about how it all came together.
Kreyolicious: How did you get interested in becoming a designer?
Becoming a designer was my teen dream. But as you know in Haiti, the artistic field is not perceived as a real profusion, I had to put on hold this dream. But it was there deep behind myself. And all my closed friends and family can tell you that I always loved fashion.
Kreyolicious: How did Bijou Lakay get started?
Bijou Lakay started in 2005. At this period, I was doing my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I didn’t even realize that I was realizing my dream. The first two years, it was more a [hobby and an occasional] selling activity. I only designed a few pieces for myself. And then, I noted that people [were] get[ting] interested in my pieces, I started selling [them] then. In 2007, when Artisanat en Fete [a craft tradeshow in Haiti] started its activities, [bringing visibility to the crafts industry [in Haiti], Bijou Lakay really [got] started. We kept growing, [and got] established in the Haitian community.
Kreyolicious: A woman who wears Bijou Lakay is what type of woman…
A woman with personality, who like innovation, unconventional. A woman who want to try something new and different. She is definitely unique and stunning.
Kreyolicious: What is the most popular piece in your collection?
Bijou Lakay produced more than 20 collections during those past years. But the most popular was Cocktail and for this collection I received awards from Association de Diseno de Madrid last year. Two pieces of this collection were exposed from November 2014 to march 2015 al Centro Matadero de Diseno en Madrid.
Kreyolicious: What would you say to someone who wants to be a fashion entrepreneur?
A fashion entrepreneur can’t be a lazy person. In Haiti, it is really demanding for different reasons, fail of structure, fail of appropriate human resources, etc…If you don’t like this field, you will for sure abandon it ’cause it is stressful.
Kreyolicious: It’s been said that entrepreneurship can be a lonely venture. But books can be good company, and those who make up your support system can make it worthwhile too. What are some of the lessons that you’ve learned so far?
I have learned a lot from my career in fashion. My family, friends, my [Rotary Club] family—Rotaract de Petion-Ville—support me a lot. I get to know others designers also. And we share our fears and other [concerns]. They give me good advice [as well]. Just a way to say that sometimes team work helps to resolve some problems. Day-by-day, I understand that we have to invest more time [than] ever to face [our] current situation. It’s really a non-stop learning process.
Kreyolicious: Where do you hope to get your brand?
We have our showroom at 21, Rue 3 Pacot, and a point of sales in Petionville at ESB, 66, Rule Lambert, [in] Petionville. [At the moment], my brand is [available] in four foreign stores based in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barcelona and [will] soon [be in] Barbados. We are working to put the online store operational in partnership via www.ccboutik.com. It should be operational between [early this year]. We want to have other points of sales in cities like New York, Florida, New Orleans, Madrid, and others countries like Jamaica, St. Marteen, Brazil, France, and the Dominican Republic. We want also to improve more our work quality, [and] to develop our brands offers. We want to get more and more pieces [on the market].
We need to increase the number of craftsmen working for us. But most importantly, we want to get more involved in our community. It is a local brand, and we think we have to get closer to our direct and indirect customers. It is why customer service is our priority. We ask your readers to please follow us in those social medias. We want to thank Kreyolicious for this interview. We congratulate you for this wonderful work you are doing in the community. We wish you many, many more years [of existence].
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