After my initial trip to Haiti in 2007, I went home and bought NOLO’s legal guide for starting a non-profit organization. I sat down and poured through that book , carefully writing a mission statement and bylaws and asking everyone close to me if they would play a key role.
We moved to Haiti in 2008 with a nonprofit in place, but spent a year learning and gleaning more wisdom before I ever set out to do anything that was in my heart for moms. During that year we lived in an orphanage as house-parents, which is a whole series of blogs on their own! (Subscribe to the blog and you won’t miss out!)
In 2009 Apparent Project came to fruition in the efforts to help four women out of poverty by getting them started in jewelry training, paper bead rolling and more. Our first women were Mirlande, Sonia, Guerline, and Beatrice. Three of the four are still with us today!
It worked! The idea actually worked! Four women quickly turned into turned into 14 artisans by the end of the year. By the next year, 80 people were working. Most all of our marketing was being done through social media and people were starting to put Apparent Project on the map as a place that was creating a way out of poverty in a sustainable way. In a world of NGO’s and handouts and subsidized everything, it was revolutionary. Work really worked!
At that point, my little garage where the artisans worked was bursting at the seams, and Apparent Project was no longer under the radar in Haiti.
We had to formalize as a business.
I decided to call the business Papillon Enterprise (French for butterfly) as I have always had a thing for butterflies and the transformation they witness spoke volumes to me about what I wanted to see happen in Haiti and with our artisans in particular.
Although Papillon Enterprise at that time became the legal production center for all things Apparent Project, it was (and is) still very much been branded “Apparent Project.” It has in fact actually has been it’s own separate legal and fiscal identity since 2011. Papillon Enterprise’s establishment allowed the artisans to keep working legally, pay their taxes, get bank accounts, pay into social security, and allowed many more employees to be hired. Because Apparent Project was the distributor of almost all things made by Papillon and also the business incubator, people continue to know the production facility as Apparent Project in Haiti.
In 2013 things turned a corner. Production was booming, and more buyers other than AP were buying and selling things made by Papillon Enterprise. Shelley was running both AP and Papillon Enterprise and quickly realized that things were becoming too much to handle by just one person AND realized the roles of both organizations needed to be defined and described:
Papillon Enterprise: A social enterprise and production facility in Haiti born out of the efforts of the Apparent Project in order to create jobs and help keep kids out of orphanages. Papillon Enterprise is strictly a business, abiding by all the laws of Haiti and run by myself as CEO. We now sell to may other buyers such as Donna Karan, Disney, The Gap, West Elm, Trades of Hope, and attend trade shows and product two catalogs of products per year. Our goal: jobs for Haitian parents.
Apparent Project is the business incubator for start-up businesses that help aid in the economic situation of families in Haiti. Apparent Project also does community development, education, job skills training, a daycare, computer training, a guesthouse, medical relief, prenatal care, and also continues to market and promote Papillon goods as well as other Haitian artisan goods by way of it’s party sales and fundraisers.
In the fall of 2013 with 230 employees, I decided to step down as the face of Apparent Project and focus solely on running Papillon Enterprise production. My mother (the fabulous and hard-working and ever supportive) Marilyn Monaghan was nominated by the board of Apparent Project to become the director of Apparent Project.
We have hopes that along with the normal support that Apparent Project contributes to the community here in Haiti, and the buying power that it has for artisan goods, that another business would soon be born out of APs efforts to further employ and empower the Haitian poor! Apparent Project has since bloomed and is supporting a full time daycare for our artisans most at-risk children, running a day time on-site computer training center for our managers, and supporting training efforts as well as medical teams through the use of the guest house in Port au Prince.
The best is yet to come!