In this serie of Words and Wardrobe I am wearing a Tank Top from my very own “Lakay Se Lakay” Collection (Oh I bet you didn’t know I do my side hustle lol) from Expres-So. This particular black tank top has been a favorite ever since it’s been launch. Whenever I want to make a statement with this Tee, I wear black pair of skinny legs to have a lean composure. Adds some wedge for some soft feminine touch and add some attitude with a leather jacket. Now let’s get down to talk about the growth of my child “Lakay Se Lakay”
There were 3 top careers things that I always wanted to go for when I was a child. They were
1-A first grade teacher
3-A fashion designer or a stylist.
Branding is a bit similar to giving birth to a child. You’re never done planning for them. When your child is growing you’re wondering sick if they will be part of the cool kids at school, will they be loners, will the be class crowd? Will they be successful. Oh, I’ll be lying to you if I told you that learning about branding for “Lakay Se Lakay” was all breezy. So, when it was time to participate in my 2nd art show , I DYI everything. I took a bet on myself and took the responsibilities of wearing multiple hats. From creating a logo to being my own model and taking pictures for promotion purposes. I managed to be a PR to interact and build relationship with potential customers. In between all these tasks that needed to be done, I found time to paint 2 dozen t-shirts in the same handwriting signature that made the product stood out. Brothers and Sisters ! your home girl was exhausted, sleep deprived but none less excited and driven to continue.
The responses and appreciation for the collection was average but I had a bit of exposure. Although my bag was lighter when I left the art show, I lost rather than making profit. I had losses because I sold myself short because people were asking for bargains, to lower my initial prices as if I didn’t deserve to gain profit from my hard work. On top of my losses, a popular brand stole the idea from my Instagram page and made it his. Homeboy probably laughed his way to the bank from the naive young entrepreneur that I was then. I was crushed for I couldn’t battle this because 1- I didn’t take legal action to register my idea into the ministry of commerce (My mother had insisted on this before I went public) 2-I was living in a 3rd world country where people made a living by…ehh copying.
I took a hiatus on selling the collection myself because of…FEAR. The concept was shared and part of it was sold to partners who ran an independent group when the Tshirts transitioned to a modern look. However the main reasonws why I became so hesitant in continuing with selling My ‘Lakay Se Lakay’ Collection is : Mixed feelings
-Haiti became the home that gave me mixed feelings.
The meaning of the Tshirt tagline came from pure nostalgia. It came from a place of memories where I’d hear “Ah Papa Lakay Se Lakay” (There’s no place like home) whenever I’d come back from a trip. If I felt that way, I couldn’t imagine how other Haitians felt whenever they were back to their country after a long absence. But even then, I didn’t want to just sell and close my eyes on issues that Haitians are going through presently that are…putting them in the obligation to call some other places home. The current issues of deportation, hunger, poverty are issues that are ripping my heart in pieces.
I don’t want to be screaming “Haiti pa’m nan diferan” ( Haitian-Creole for My side of Haiti is different) and ignore the mere fact that the minimum to live here are luxuries. And driving with anxieties whenever officials are rolling fast and furious in these narrow not respecting any of their own damn rule. Or having the fear of being cussed out by the Police because my “A**” was taking too long to park aside to let them pass. If I can’t live my own truth of “Lakay Se Lakay” how do I expect customers and potential customers to do business with me?
But the good news is that I don’t have to be ruled by fear anymore. I don’t have to quit the race because I’ve come to realize that I only can’t save Haiti. I am just part of the Haitian-American community contributing to the birth of another Haiti. What I can do and will do is…Rebuild and have “Lakay Se Lakay” take a 360 degree turn.
It’s All Love Sophie
- Founder of “Lakay Se Lakay” Tshirts : Expres Sophie (Yours Truly)
- Expanding of ‘Lakay Se Lakay’ collection was sponsored by : Oze Haiti
- Graphic Designer : Daniel Altema