Encouraging Innovation and Building Export Capacity in the Apparel Value Chain

On March 29, 2019, the USAID Local Enterprise and Value Chain Enhancement (LEVE) project awarded a partner contribution grant of US$28,900 to Atelier Calla, a small designer in Port-au-Prince specializing in the production of jewelry and home decorative items made from cattle horn, wood and bone.

Atelier Calla was created in 2006 by Christelle Chignard-Paul as a small arts and craft company seeking to revitalize traditional artisan work by identifying new markets. Atelier Calla has quickly established itself both locally and internationally as a creator of high quality and innovative fashion accessories and decorative goods that highlight the skills of Haitian artisans. Despite major setbacks caused by the 2010 earthquake (its workshop was destroyed) Atelier Calla was able to bounce back, developing collaborations with international designers such as Donna Karan and Isabel Encinias, and emerging brands like Mi-ossa, Beljoy and Elisha C. In 2011, Atelier Calla received an award as Artisan of the Year at the yearly “Artisanat en Fête” trade fair in Port-au-Prince.

While Atelier Calla was successful in participating in trade shows overseas and developing synergies with other producers such as Simbi, it still lacked production capacity to be able to keep up with new demand. With the negative impact of the 2018 political disturbances, the company also realized they needed to improve their website to incorporate e-commerce in order to boost sales.

LEVE helped Atelier Calla to overcome these challenges by 1) providing technical assistance in order to improve events marketing and to develop an e-commerce platform; 2) providing back-office support in order to improve management and financial operations and 3) giving financial assistance to support the purchase of additional equipment and a generator. In addition, Atelier Calla benefited from business coaching courses provided by LEVE’s expert to address quality control issues.

Through LEVE, Atelier Calla benefited from increased collaboration with other local designers such as SIMBI, (and) D.O.T. and Atelier Métisse. These partnerships allowed Atelier Calla to find customers while at the same time affording them better access to raw materials for the production of bracelets.

Thanks to LEVE’s investment, Atelier Calla intends to hire 3 additional full-time staff and create work for 10 to 12 artisans. The new equipment will put the company in a stronger position to capture international sales, with the expectation that total sales will double by the end of 2019.