We had the good fortune of connecting with Carlo Petit-Homme and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carlo, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I have always wanted to do something big, something meaningful, and something that supports my people, my home, and my country, something that lifts up Haiti. I wanted my platform to be able to teach our history to the generations to come. ManeMan Designs was actually birthed in Haiti, but due to financial reasons I couldn’t move forward, so I gave up. When I moved to the US in 2016, I decided to start over, which took me over a year because I didn’t think I was ready until I could explain the vision to my then girlfriend, and future wife, who motivated me to take the leap of faith. So February 2017, she created the name and Instagram account, as a demonstration of faith. This is how it all started. The lesson I have learned from starting ManeMan Designs is sometimes you may not think you are ready to chase your dreams, but all you need is a little push and faith.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
In 2017, I started ManeMan Designs (MMD) with 5 dad caps and 2 small tubes of acrylic paint from Walmart, no website, and an Instagram account with less than 100 followers. I had to develop many skills in order to grow, discovering along the way that I had so much to learn. As I added more items, I had to be Maneman Designs’ first supporter, so I rocked the apparel all the time, always trying to find a way to integrate the items into my outfit, ensuring I was a walking billboard. My mindset is, if I can’t support my own brand, why should anybody else. With the support of friends, family and my small Instagram audience, I started to see growth and the business started to gain traction and exponential growth followed. I still struggle to pay myself, pouring everything back into MMD, but I am consistently creating content, posting to all of the social media platforms, engaging with followers, all while having a full time job and trying to sustain a work-life balance. What I have learned the most is that I don’t need all of my followers to like, comment, or share my content, but when that one follower understands and believe in the vision, then I know I am still on the right track. That is when genuine support cultivates into new sustainable customers. This mindset has allowed me to grow from 100 followers to now more than 17k followers on Instagram. Here we are 3 years later, I have created an online store and added over 30 products that can be purchased, including shoes, outerwear, bodysuit, mugs, t-shirts, jewelry, and more. We are working hard every day to improve and make ManeMan Designs a one stop shop for those looking to show off their pride in being Haitian through the clothes they wear. We have come a long way, fought off doubt, conquered obstacles, spent endless nights creating products, run out of money, made unsuccessful investments, but it was all a part of the process. Quitting was never an option. Looking back at where ManeMan Designs started and where we are now, it brings me so much joy and the momentum to continue pushing towards why we even started MMD. Together, we will change the face of Haiti.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m currently living outside of Miami, in a smaller city named Port St Lucie, which is about 2 hours north. It is definitely a slower place than Miami, but there’s still lots to do. Let’s start of with the nightlife, that is probably where we struggle the most, but the Jetty is always a vibe. There are tons of bars selling frozen Hurricanes that can be taken to the pier that overlooks the ocean, and there is live bands playing under the Florida night sky, while you grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants in the area. There is the occasional bal jaz, Haitian live concert/clubs, that pop up from time to time. My favorite activity that I would have to recommend is horse back riding on the beaches of Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce with Tours in Horseback. When we start talking good food, that is my speciality. My fave eatery in Downtown Fort Pierce is Sunrise City Cafe, these locals make the best breakfast. There is also Riverside Cafe that makes a great Sunday brunch with a Mimosa and Bloody Mary Bar in VeroBeach. A great spot for dinner is the Stuart Boathouse in Downtown Stuart, that over looks the water. Afterwards you can grab a drink just steps away from the restaurant at the Mulligan Bar, which is located on the pier overlooking the Indian River Lagoon. There is also the Gafford in Downtown Stuart and Twisted Tuna in Port Salerno. It may not be as lively as Miami, which I miss but there is definitely a quaint vibe to be had on the Treasure Coast.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate this shoutout to my beautiful wife, the one who been through it all with me when it come to Maneman Designs. I can’t recall a time when she was not willing to help. An advisor when needed, she always has the right words ready when I am feeling down, especially when things are not working out as expected and I am questioning myself, the brand, and the business. An accountant, always keeping me on track ensuring that my moves are calculated. She has a way of making me feel like I got this. She never hides the truth and keeps me honest, even when it’s difficult. She tells me what I need to hear, even when I don’t want to at the moment. She is truly the backbone to ManeMan Designs. I like to say that I am the machine, but she is the motor.
Other: Tiktok @manemandesigns