A Backpack of Sunshine by Deux Mains Designs
"April showers bring May flowers" is what they say, but today's April rain isn't getting me down because I have the SUNSHINE of Deux Mains Design's latest Backpack: Michel! I am in love with their Spring 2018 collection for so many reasons, but one of the coolest elements by far is the way that they have incorporated stunning hand-painted canvas into their products! I mean it is just the perfect representation of the beauty that bursts from within Haiti! **The BEST part? If you use my code HEIDE15 you can get 15% off the entire site!**
What makes me the happiest is that I have been looking for a backpack to use this summer! I'm tired of my purse emptying out all over the side walk if I bend over to pick up my dog or tie my shoe or (inevitably) drop my phone, so a backpack is the perfect solution. (It also is a great break for my back - my heavy purse on one shoulder all the time is no bueno!) The draw string keeps it closed so crazy New Yorkers can't stick their hands inside when you're not looking (I had a cop yell at me to close my purse one time because of this!), and the durability of the repurposed innertube on the bottom comes in super handy for when you have to set your bag down somewhere. (Side note: I completely freaked out the people I was visiting in Mexico City when I set my bag on the floor! It apparently it is bad luck there, so when you get to restaurants they have these little stands that they put by your table to hang your bags on. While it was a nice touch in Mexico City, it's not possible to hang up your bag everywhere you go in NYC, so it's comforting to know that the bottom of my backpack can handle whatever NYC throws its way!)
While NYC presents its aformentioned challenges, I must admit this backpack is great for adventuring outside of the city as well! Below is me riding on a moto through Port au Prince. Motos are a pretty typical way to get around in Haiti, especially because of the massive traffic jams you can get into. The moto allows you to weave in and out of the other cars and get where you need to go! You'll see people carrying incredible things while riding motos (I saw people carrying a door once!), all in the name of getting stuff done! Haiti presents its challenges, but it's people are never defeated, a concept that Deux Mains represents 100%!
In case you don't know the story of Deux Mains, it began when Julie Colombino - called to do disaster relief when the 2010 earthquake hit - partnered up with women in the Port au Prince community who said to her, "We don't need aid, we need jobs!" They got to work immediately, beginning to fashion tires found on the streets into (a really rough version of) sandals.
When I was in Haiti in 2014 and I met Deux Mains for the first time, their sandals had evolved immensely and they were creating absolutely beautiful flip flops. I saw an opportunity to expand this incredible idea of a social business (which I had never come across before) into a new audience by creating fashionable products that me and other fashion industry professionals would love and want to buy and wear. Since we began our partnership, I have done some guest designing (the Bel Nanm was our first product together), but the Deux Mains team in Haiti has evolved from a sandal company into a respected ethical fashion company, producing shoes, bags, jewelry, and other accessories! The artisans who were hit so hard during the earthquake now not only have jobs that pay them far above the living wage in Haiti, they have access to healthcare, managerial opportunities, ownership in the business, and can now not only provide for their own families but have started side companies as well in order to expand the opportunity for employment to others in the community. It has been the most incredible thing to watch and I cannot express how proud I am to have been welcomed into their team! Please join me in supporting this incredible business - purchasing their products will bring so much joy to your life and to the lives of the artisans creating them!