The Haitian Bead Project

We are a new small-business venture featuring jewelry made by Haitian artisans in Pignon, Haiti. Our business is under the umbrella of Christian Frienship Ministries and will hopefully be one of many income-generating project for Haitians in the future.

The jewelry features handmade beads created from recycled or “upcycled” materials. These beads are a beacon of hope for women who are men and women, mothers and grandmothers in search of a way to provide for their families in rural Haiti. More than 80% of Haiti’s population lives under the poverty line and 54% live in abject poverty. Unemployment plagues the country and those who do have jobs earn an average annual wage of $400. We want to be a part of changing these statistics by discouraging handouts and instead creating meaningful jobs for Haitians.

Our project was born in the summer of 2011 when Peter Constantin connected with Shelley Clay. Three of our ladies went for training with Shelley and the ApParent Project in Port-Au-Prince. Shelley generously taught these leaders the skill of rolling paper beads and creating jewelry, then sent them on their way to their home in the Northern mountains of Haiti to teach others. Dorina Gilmore came on as the U.S. Director of the project soon after.

The project is separate from the ApParent Project and operates under the umbrella of the non-profit Christian Friendship Ministries. We currently have artisans working in two cities: Pignon and Savanette in the Northern Mountains of Haiti. Our jewelry is sold all over the world. Encouraging Creativity Each piece of jewelry is unique. No two necklaces or bracelets or even beads will ever be the same because of the creative process for making this jewelry.

Our artisans take various types of recycled thin cardboard and packaging like cereal boxes and cut these into thin strips using a paper cutter. The artisan then rolls the strips of cardboard on bamboo skewers to form the shape of the bead. The bead is coated with glue to help secure the layers of cardboard. Next the artisan will varnish the bead to seal and protect the bead, making it waterproof and giving it a shine. The skewers of beads are then set in the sun to dry. After the beads are dried, the artisan goes to work making jewelry pieces. She may mix seed beads, glass beads or other unique beads with her own handcrafted beads to create unique bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Fostering Community

One of the huge benefits of this project is the way it fosters community among the women. In rural Haiti, the women often spend much of their day washing clothes in the river, gardening and preparing food and cleaning. We quickly discovered that making beads was a project the women could work on in the afternoons during the hottest hours of the day. Our artisans often find shade from the sun beneath the awning of a school building or in the church yard. They pull together a circle of chairs and roll beads. This is a time for the women to connect. Their babies and children play at their feet or in a field nearby. The project fosters community as young mothers and older grandmas find themselves working together and encouraging one another.

Offering Fair Wages

Our project is committed to offering fair wages to women and men living in poverty in the northern mountains of Haiti. People often ask how much the artisans are paid. Each woman creates their own supply of jewelry, which is then shipped to the United States and tagged to sell.

When the jewelry is sold 30% is generally set aside for supplies/shipping costs, 10% is donated to the artisan’s church and 60% goes back to the artisan and their family. This means the artisan gets the majority of the proceeds when the jewelry is sold. We have found through research that this percentage is actually higher than most “fair trade” organizations offer.

We believe a person gains dignity and purpose through his or her work. God created each of us with a deep desire to contribute and display His glory through our work. For decades, Haitians have been offered relief and handouts with crippling effects. There has been little plan for long-term development. Creating jobs for the people who live in the northern mountains of Haiti is part of the vision of Christian Friendship Ministries. We want to empower Haitians to provide for themselves and build their own communities rather than furthering a culture of dependency.

For more details about the jewelry, volunteer opportunities or to purchase, please go to


Last Updated Monday, July 23, 2018 - 01:37 AM.