We had the good fortune of connecting with Phelicia Dell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Phelicia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I first had the chance to work in the textile industry as an interior designer when the father of my daughter, who was an Architect and businessman in the early 2000s, allowed me to express myself as an artist in his architectural projects. Following his assassination in 2004, I found myself unemployed, I had a one-year-old daughter to feed, and I had many financial problems to solve. During that terrible time in my life, I was forced to create my own doorway to new opportunities. I would say that it was my survival instinct that drove me to start my own business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The concept of VèVè Collections was born in 2005 after the tragic death of my partner and Child’s father. I continued my journey by giving myself a new quest as I devoted my talent to create the perfect line of fashion wear reflecting the Haitian culture. I saw a void in the fashion industry and looked to create a brand that offered style and sophistication while still serving the needs of everyday women like me. “I was sitting inside my home looking at my leftover fabrics from my previous venture, and I thought, now that’s a perfect way to start creating value to Haitian craft and give life to a new industry, by captivating the Haitian voodoo flags to produce a line of high hand fashion and promote Haiti’s sense of art and couture throughout the world. I did not doubt that I was flipping in my hands a ticket to a brighter future for my daughter and me.
The key aspects that set my line apart from others include a request that exceeds any particular ethnicity or culture while focusing on quality and value. Each of my products is crafted with my customers in mind; I create products that allow contemporary women and men to express their unique looks while meeting the demands of their lifestyles. My designs embrace distinctive shapes, unconventional patterns, and flirts with hip details reminding my customers that they can have it all. Luxury, style, elegance, and quality come together in our “must-have” accessories.
The VèVè Collections customer receives only the most refined product and guarantees with every purchase. Customers have come to trust this guarantee and know that VèVè collections will take back and fix any product with a defection during the first six months of purchase. All VèVè Collections products are handmade and hand-selected to ensure that only the finest quality is delivered. Only the finest materials are chosen carefully to construct each product. The company prides itself on having the highest standards in the industry. Production is monitored carefully to ensure that each detail in our product is assembled with the most excellent care and utmost regard for excellence. My work confine styles and femininity through its varying shapes, styles, colors, and exceptional fabrics, which allow my customers to express their attitude in an everyday accessory while they promote the art. I believe my designs and accessories are portrayed as sophisticated styles, an assortment of fashionable colors, a luxurious feel, and exquisite craftsmanship.
The brand pampers its customers with handmade construction and elegant packaging. Each bag is handmade and crafted only of the finest fabrics. Customers will know they have purchased excellence the minute they see the luxurious bag and packaging.
I am most proud of how I created a brand that allows me to provide for my daughter and educate her to become an honor roll student and recipient of a scholarship to one of the most prestigious Universities to pursue a career in economics and law. I am proud of the ability I have to support many families with sustainable jobs. I am thankful for the platform that I found through VèVè Collections to play my role in social causes and give back to my community. After 17 years of striving and still waiting for things to change in a country that got my heart wrapped all over, I couldn’t be prouder of what I have accomplished with just 100 dollars. I get excited every time I get an opportunity to express myself by exhibiting my talent and prove to the world that as little you may have, you can make a difference if you believe.
After winning the Best Emerging handbag designer award, a competition launch by DVF in 2009, followed by a Miami Herald story on my designs Consequently, it was market demand that gave ascend to the brand “Veve Collection” line. Today our customers everywhere benefit from the same quality guarantee that has given the brand its excellent reputation. I work in a very challenging environment from the stitch of one bead to another; I count my blessings every day.
Today, as a single mother and the CEO of one of Haiti’s most prominent business ventures, balancing these two roles can be challenging. Finding the right person to leave with my daughter when I am on the road for business to finding a zipper for a bag are the kind of challenges I face and overcome to get to the brighter side of life. I am passionate; I trained my artisan to be the best at what they do. I get them to work on my orders so that they deliver the most exquisite pieces of art while I focus on the designs and many other aspects of the business. My hands are full of putting marketing plans together, creating patterns, and constructing collections for every season. It is tough to arrange an exhibition in Haiti because of the chronic instability there; you cannot imagine what I have to go through to find the resources that I need to work on my projects. I take time out of my busy schedule to do my sourcing every time I travel. I collect fabrics and accessories in different fabric stores around the world. In my shopping cart, you will find anything that can add character to my art, you know, to give that look a customer would pay extra for to be unique and distinctive. When I started my business, it was really hard, but if I had the pleasure to start this over again, I would do it in a heartbeat, but now with better structures to make my business stronger after years of constant struggle. To keep my art flowing, I travel incessantly, gathering inspiration and business insight from fashion endeavors, forums, seminars, different cultures, and fashions in various places in the world. I have my pulse on women’s issues in business, women in politics, women as role models. I am actively a women ambassador for greatness. Thanks to VV (Vital voices), I found a platform to pursue my belief as a social agent defending the right causes and giving back to my community.
I have learned to believe that it is ok to dream big however you have to work hard to make your dream a reality. I have learned that nothing will be handed free to you on a platter; you have to go after what you want to succeed. I am known to be consistent, reliable, and resilient because, with these tools, you can create the world you want to live in. I have always learned to put my customers’ needs first because they are my bosses; without them, I don’t have a job. I have learned and seen that all obstacles are endless possibilities pushing you to strive for excellence. I have learned to set up a backup plan because things don’t usually go exactly how you want them. I have learned this in the worst way possible, but I know better today.
I want the world to know that I am fearless, and I am a very proud single mom. I like the world to know that I am continuously improving myself to become a better person with a vision to empower the younger generation. I want to inspire others and let them know that, no matter how bad it gets, they have the power and ability to redirect from a negative to a positive path.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d take my friend on a ride outside of Port-au-Prince, somewhere a bit calm now. I would stop alongside the road for fruits and picture moments. I would visit Lakou Trankil Bar and Grill restaurant for lunch with my friend, where they would discover some traditional dishes at this beautiful art deco corner in Jacmel. Run by Jika, a famous artist who is also the owner, this hot spot offer’s an excellent presentation with a tasteful menu and a beautiful showcase of this multitalented painter’s work.
I would also drive my friend to La Colline Enchante, not too far from Jacmel, for a tour. Located on top of a mountain in Marigot, this beautiful guesthouse built in bungalows offers the most beautiful view over the sea. The people there are amiable, the place is calm, inviting, and the perfect spot for a lovely weekend with friends and family, especially lovers.
I would schedule a Bassin Bleu visit for my friend. This waterfall in southern Haiti is an adventure you should not miss if you come anywhere near Jacmel. If you love nature like me, these grand cascades are simply impressive; the chutes spread around the waterslides are breathtaking. It is an experience that will change the way you think about Haiti.
I would take a detour on our way back down from Jacmel to Petit-Goave, my Mother’s hometown, where we would stop for coffee with my aunt, and right after, we would head up to the mountain to visit the camp Ecotouristique site “Lafond-Belle” in Lafond. It is a small community located in the mountain above Petit-Goave, where community leaders like my uncle Emile Meance who passed two years ago, work every day to promote environmental awareness and create local projects gathering people to help support in areas like farming, art, sport, and education. They are engaged in helping to sustain families and help build hope for a better future. On our way to Lafondbelle, we would make a stop to contemplate the three rivers: Depalis, Dyet, and Girat. After a couple of hours, Lafondbelle would welcome us with a warm cabin and a lovely meal; we would take a warm bath afterward and go to bed. In the morning, we would visit the school and community leaders, we would enjoy a friendly soccer game and horseback riding with the local kids. In the day time, we will enjoy eating mango, and in the late afternoon, we would eat mayi boukannen ” grilled corn ”. Finally, we would spend a quiet night under a sky full of stars with local music of twoubadour and sanglawou tea.
As we make our way back to the city the next day, we would stop at the perfect crystal clear water beach call Bananier. Located near Petit-Goave, Bananier is one of the best and pristine beaches we have in Haiti. Lined with coconut trees, I always wonder why they call it Bananier instead of Coconuts. This beach is breathtaking with its white sand that you could just indulge your body in for a natural massage.
Before the end of our super week, I would take my friend to 3 Decks Restaurant for a special diner to say thank you for a visit. Located in Kenscoff in the mountains of Fermathe surrounded by nature, it is one of the best places I recommend for dinner. The staff is amiable, the food is excellent, and the setting is great.
The list is endless but let me underline just a few of the most fun and exciting places to check out if you ever visited Haiti; The Citadelle Laferriere, the Sans Soucis Palace & Labadie are all in the northen side of Haiti, Saut D’eau a beautiful and spiritual waterfall located near Mirbalais, Bassin Zim a mystical waterfall in Hinche, Grotte Marie Jeanne & Saut Mathurine in the southern side of Haiti, Mole-Saint. Nicolas in the North-Western coast of Haiti is the site where Christopher Columbus first landed on the Island; lakou Souvenace , Lakou Soukri & Lakou Badjo the three most important sacred mystical voodoo temples of Haiti.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The first shout-out is to my Guardian Angel, My recognition to Milo Rigaud, the author of VEVE by Milo Rigaud; because of his book, I found myself a path. I created a legacy for generations of artisans to build their freedom and way of living. For my mentorship, thanks to Danielle St Lot, Ann Valery Timothee, Alyse Nelson, Eugenia Podestra, Karin Shipman, Grace Nelson
Support: Mario Barreau, Huswald Timothee, Marc St.Joy, Nadia Pressage, Matt Heien, Tamara Phillipeaux, Magda Demerritt, Sandy Dorsainvil, Rose Carmelle Merveille, Jean Robert Duprat, Joe Wesley, Ricardo Saint Cyr, Jimmy Moise from Managing partner Modernique & Co, my staff and Artisans.
Mentorships & Support: Vital Voices and DVF for their platforms
Shoutout to my Mother, Manicile Augustin, my daughter Benaelle Benoit, my adopted daughter Anne, and my family. None of this would have been possible without their efforts.
Linkedin: Phelicia Dell
Facebook: veve Collections
Other: IN: phelidell / Facebook: Phelicia Dell / Twitter: @phelidell
Credits: 4025 / 4059 @crdphotography 1558 /1402 / 8767 / 0796 Joe Wesley Photography 5873 /1252 / 3948 / 0169 Berthelot_Photography 41-b / 8317 /9204 Jean Robert Duprat 6212 /0790 /0766 /0785 / 0602 RSCPhotography