“I want to be able to create an opportunity for women to change their own narrative.”
As a simple Caribbean girl, the colors and textures of Joëlle Fontaine’s creations invoke no comparisons. Her fashion brand, I Am Kréyol, incorporates her love of costuming and ancient time periods in a collection that represents sophistication at its best. Encompassing Fontaine’s fascination of 1800’s silhouettes, vintage, precise cuts, bold patterns, and classic femininity, I Am Kréyol also utilizes old Haitian uniforms and dresses from her childhood, made by her mother, as a basis and inspiration for design.
Joëlle Fontaine is a self-taught artist/designer that has been creating since 2004. We got the chance to chat with her in-between her busy schedule about her mission. Check out our conversation below.
QC: What do you hope to accomplish with your designs?
JF: Well, I Am Kreyol is a high fashion brand whose mission is to empower women through our bold designs but also empowering women in my homeland of Haiti through job creation and sustainability.
QC: What message do you hope to convey?
JF: I hope that through my brand and my designs inspire women to become more comfortable being bold, loud and present. The colors and patterns we use are definitely for the woman who is born to stand out and wants to make a statement.
But, overall, my aim is to utilize my gifts to be impactful in the lives of Haitian women artisans by providing opportunity for them to utilize their skills to be creative, while making a steady living. I believe that we are all given the tools we need to formulate the life we want. Unfortunately, sometimes in a place like Haiti, the opportunities just do not exist. I want to be able to create an opportunity for women to change their own narrative.
QC: What are your next steps for I Am Kreyol and how can people support?
JF: My next step with I Am Kreyol is to take over the world. (LOL. No sa.) At least not yet anyways. Our next steps are pretty exciting. For the month of March, we are running a crowdfunding campaign which will allow our customers and followers to pre-order our spring line, The Lotus Collection. This will be the very 1st collection we produce in Haiti.
My goal has always been to be able to utilize my work to go back home and contribute to the economic sustainability of women. I believe that is my duty as an artist and a Haitian woman. I am ecstatic to be taking the first steps toward that goal.
QC: What advice would you give women who hope to have a career in fashion?
JF: I think the best advice I can give to a woman starting a career in fashion is to KNOW THY SELF! Take the time to be inspired on a regular basis, create, study your craft consistently- repeatedly and learn all that you are. Your authenticity will always be your greatest value proposition, so maximize it.
Do not seek to be like anyone else in the industry, and don't conform who you are to what you think the fashion world demands of you. It will adjust. Not right away, but eventually- as long as you remain true to you. Create from an honest space. It is then that you yourself will become art, and a career in fashion will just be a manifestation of who you are innately.
I Am Kréyol utilizes high fashion as a catalyst for change. Alongside her mother, Yolette Fontaine, Joëlle creates to inspire women from all walks of life to lead a powerful, purposeful life. Find out more about the I Am Kreyol woman at iamkreyol.com and support their crowdfunding campaign at iamkreyolcampaign.com.