Marie is a Haitian-American clothing designer who was first inspired by the art of her late uncle Kele. Marie's family first came to Boston from Port Au Prince, Haiti when she was 15 years old. She still remembers being called "the french girl" by the other kids, because she didn't speak any english. Though it was tough going to high school in a new country while learning a new language, Marie successfully graduated and went on to get her master's degree in healthcare management. While working in the health field Marie realized that she wanted to do more with her time off than the norm. She remembered the art that her uncle used to make. She was inspired to make clothing and jewelry that represented it. Marie wanted to revive his art which was not only beautiful, but very important to her family. So from there the idea for her company KADOKELE was born, a clothing and jewelry brand.
She wanted to make clothing and jewelry that represented caribbean life, with beautiful medallions and beads. The coolest element to her jewelry is that all of the beads and medallions are hand made in Haiti. Which are sourced through a company called The Seed Fund, check them out here.
Marie wanted to make a positive social impact while creating a business and where else better to make that impact than in her home country. Partnering with The Seed Fund made it possible to do just that. Buying all of her beads and medallions for her jewelry through The Seed Fund not only creates jobs but helps fund their mission for sustainable education for the children of Haiti.
To distribute her clothing and jewelry that she assembles in Boston, she sells them online at Etsy.com. For her in person sales, the ones that she makes at events like trade shows. She used to use Square, until Etsy made their own version of a credit card scanner. Marie's sales span across North America from Miami to Toronto and even in Haiti.
Marie plans on continuing to grow not only her business, but her impact in Haiti. One day she'd like to create her own foundation that makes an impact in Haiti through social entrepreneurship. We discussed the term "Social Entrepreneurship" and it's importance in the modern day. As we all know, money is power. I'm sure we can all cite Tony Montana for that one. Nonetheless, money is a powerful element and because of that we should all be more mindful of the way we spend it. Why buy items from companies that aren't doing anything else with that money than paying their bills and pocketing the rest? Let's take a look at TOMS shoes and consider the impact that this company has made. For every purchase you make from TOMS, they distribute free, decent grade shoes to children in the Amazon. Children who alternatively wouldn't have had any. In addition, they made it cool to buy from companies who care about more than just their bottom line (profit). This idea is also encompassed in the phrase, "The double bottom line". Companies who practice The Double Bottom Line method care about their profits and their social impact. If you are going to buy some shoes anyway, might as well buy some that will get a kid in Uruguay a pair. If you are going to buy eye glasses, you might as well buy some that will assist someone in Cambodia to receive vision care. If you are going to buy jewelry anyway, you might as well buy some jewelry that will create a job in Haiti. Marie is going to change the world. The only question is, "will you join her?"
Marie's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to be humble, listen way more than you talk and always remain open for new information. She finds that far too often, new entrepreneurs feel the need to "act as if". In the end they look like someone trying to be a know-it-all, which shuts them off from other people who could potentially help and give useful information. She also made a great point that, "you can never stop learning". She encourages people, especially those who start companies, to always look for opportunities to learn more. Also, that there's no shame in building slowly. When you build slowly you have the luxury of not making big mistakes. You give yourself time to learn, as well as time to pick the right way to react to situations as they arise. Lastly, Marie advises that what ever you do, pick something that you are passionate about. The more passionate you are, the longer that you'll last and ultimately the more successful that you'll be.