I’ve always been very proud of my Haitian heritage. I’m even prouder of when I discover some of the most inspiring Haitians having success in their endeavors and are proud to showcase our beautiful culture.
Speaking of inspiring Haitian entrepreneur, I have the chance to have a fun and really cool chat with one of the most famous designers in America Fabrice Tardieu. He is passionate, insightful and clearly very smart.
Let’s discover this classy and fabulous human being.
Sab: You were born in Haiti, The Pearl of the Antilles and you went to Paris to continue your college education. Could you tell us about your experience of leaving Haiti to go to France to discover the city of light?
FT: Moving to Paris on my own at such a young age was very challenging and scary.
But at the end, it is certainly the best thing that could have happened to me professionally. It opened my eyes on so many different levels. But the most important was the different cultures it exposed me to. I believe one of the reasons my brand is successful today is because I am able to understand what each market is looking for and feels comfortable buying. Therefore, I design collections that are understood by the North American, European and Middle Eastern markets due to my understanding of their cultures.
Sab: After college, you were an intern for Giorgio Armani and you did work for the fashion house after your internship. What is the biggest lesson from this once in a lifetime experience?
FT: My biggest lesson from Giorgio Armani has been:
- To always Design a collection that has a very strong identity that is recognizable from a mile away.
- Distribute to a minimal number of places while maximizing sales
- Always be on top of everyone from the assistant designers to the warehouse guys.
These were the main guidelines from My first brand shirt Bogosse back in 2004 and today 14 years later I am still applying the same rules.
Sab: Did it come naturally to mix your artistically side with your analytic side together?
FT: My business side is actually what put me in touch with my artistic side. God gifted me with the talent of understanding what people would like to wear. I, therefore, became a designer without ever learning how to even draw. It has always been something I visualized. My talent has been to be able to communicate these visions into others and bringing them into life.
Sab: I find it inspiring that we see more and more Haitian designer like Stella Jean and yourself making some waves in the fashion world.
In our culture, our parents want us to be the greatest doctors, lawyers, engineers you name it out there. Even if we may have some artistic aspirations, they will strongly recommend you to put that aside.
Do you feel that slowly but surely, this mentality is changing since more and more artistic Haitians artists are having success in their field?
FT: I think that we do see more and more young kids of Haitian descent take an artistic direction. I believe it is a bit more accepted now due to social media. What I mean by that, more and more people have access to information and can clearly visualize success stories. Whereas in the past if you didn’t read an article or was told about a brand or an artist etc… you would have never known about them.
Sab: A quick Haitian food questions for you:
a) Griot ou Lambi?
b) Riz djon-djon ou du riz à pois?
c) Accras ou pâté?
FT: Accras for appetizers, griot with duri ak pwa to finish with lambi and duri djondjon.
Sab: I could eat Lambi with duri djondjon all day, every day.
FT: That’s right I EAT LIKE AN ANIMAL!
Sab: I love asking this question. What would you tell to the young 19 years old aspiring fashion designer if you could go back in time?
FT: Never take the word NO personally. Keep trying until no becomes maybe and maybe becomes YES!
In fashion, you get turned down constantly by buyers, manufacturers, banks, etc… It is one of the most challenging business in my opinion. You can only succeed at this if you are truly passionate about it and NEVER GIVE UP!
Thank you, Fabrice, for this opportunity to have a quick chat with you.