Sale of unique crafts to benefit Haitian crafters

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington/Region - posted Fri., Nov. 1, 2013
Unique, hand-made items from Haiti - including handbags - will be available at a limited sale at Kloter Farms on Nov. 22 and 23. Courtesy photos. - Contributed Photo

Kloter Farms of Ellington will be holding a very special sale where early holiday shoppers will be able to find some hand-made, unique gifts that also support a worthy cause.

Jason Kloter, one of Kloter Farms' co-owners, has been to Haiti several times with an organization called Loving Shepherd (which cares for orphans with a “family model” facility) since the earthquake in 2010, and said he was speechless when he saw the widespread devastation. What stood out like a beacon, he said, was the Domestic Center, or Centre Lumiere, which is a facility that teaches domestic skills to women, including how to create linen and embroidered products. The products are bought by the center, and distributed in Haiti and other countries including the United States. Proceeds go to support the training center.

“It's a system that works and is almost completely self-sustaining,” Kloter said. “It helps women, and in Haiti, like many places in the world, being a woman is harder than being a man.”

A few years ago, Ellington resident Suzanne Moreau, whose husband happens to be Haitian, was visited by a friend from Ohio who had been distributing the products, and was immediately impressed with the quality. Moreau became connected with Loving Shepherd, which also facilitates the funding of shipping the goods from Haiti to the United States. She soon began holding small private sales, including at some craft sales, and found them to be a big hit.

“When you see the embroidery work being done, it looks like it's being done by a machine, but it's not,” she said. “Women stitch every stitch by hand. The products are immaculate. They are just beautiful.”

The products have to pass inspection by a Haitian quality control woman named Olga, which Kloter referred to as “feared and revered.” “She's the final say,” Moreau said. “If it doesn't pass inspection, all the stitches get cut out, it gets sent back to them, and they redo it.”

Moreau said the center does use machines, but only for some of the assembly stitching that would be too time-consuming to be practical.

“Back when the program opened, they did a lot of doilies,” she said, adding that the product line now includes purses, sweaters, doll clothes (for 18'' dolls), aprons, dish towels, washcloths and pot holders, among other offerings. “They are targeted mostly for women and children,” Moreau said.

Moreau also recently visited the Centre Lumiere to see the operation.

Kloter said that his visits to Haiti have caused him to feel humbled – realizing his own shortcomings – while being inspired by the Haitans' spirit. “The people down there live under such [difficult] circumstances, but they still smile – they're still joyful,” he said. “I tell people I go down there for therapy. It's easy to fall in love with the people of Haiti.”

So, when Kloter was approached by Moreau to help sell some of the products, he jumped at the chance. “I believe in business as a positive force,” he said. “Here, you have people creating beautiful, high-quality products at a very fair price. It's kind of like the dream model.”

Moreau said she wanted to do a larger sale for some time, but had trouble finding a location, until the idea occurred to her to mention it to Kloter.

“When I talked to Jason, he said, 'No problem. Kloter Farms definitely has the room, and we will definitely let you use it.'”

The Haitian products will be on sale in the Kloter Farms Sales Office, at 216 West Road in Ellington only on Nov. 22 from 12 to 8 p.m. and Nov. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will also be more information about the Centre Lumiere available at the sale, but Kloter said the products will stand on their own.

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