New Year, new habits; sharing our story. We are introducing a blog series with our clients. It’s a closer look at the brand you love through the thoughts of our designer, Dayanne Danier. We hope you enjoy our new initiative.
How We Started
IN THE BEGINNING
I thought it best to start with a phrase many have heard before “In the beginning…”
Bien Abyé was an apparel collection made in the United States, NYC garment district. A specialty sportswear line in a kaleidoscope of colors that reflected my Caribbean background. Bien Abyé (means “well dressed”) is a Creole term used often to describe one’s appearance. After my lawyer told me I couldn’t use my full name for the brand, I decided to use the phrase because it was a term I often heard from my dad when I was growing up. Before leaving the house, I had to be “Bien Abyé”.
Made in Haiti
In 2011, while creating the womenswear collection, I embarked on a new endeavor. I started looking for manufacturers so that Bien Abyé apparel could be “Made in Haiti”. While showing people samples of the collection, every person I met said “what you are looking for is impossible. That level of craftsmanship is not here in Haití.” It became an impossible task with a broken record. Until in 2015 things took a turn for the better.
The Right Introduction
It was at the gift/accessories trade show NYNOW at the Javits Center, I was introduced to Nathalie Trancrede who was the executive director for Artisan Business Network. Immediately, Nathalie was excited to be connected and she said “what you are looking for is possible and let’s talk about you training a group of artisans in Haití”. My experience designing for major American brands coupled with being able to speak the local language made me the perfect candidate for what she was looking for: a textile specialist who could train a sewing coop in Haití.
Next thing I knew, we were making plans for me to spend the summer in the island. Traveling to an area of Haití I had never been to seemed like a dare at the time. What I didn’t know was that I would be meeting future employees of Bien Abyé.
40 artisans specializing in embroidery. Some old enough to be my mom, some young enough to be my sisters; a month-long program of pattern drafting and construction techniques intrigued me to stay connected to this woman run and women only coop. (Magic of Their Hands)
Their Hands Create Magic
“Every time we came to a challenge, rather than giving the answer, I questioned what they would do. Their problem solving showed how self-sufficient they were. So, my mind started racing on what I could design that they could create for Bien Abyé.” Years later, this group grew to become the makers of our headbands.