A Shreveport-based screen printing shop is using t-shirts to change the cycle of poverty and child abandonment in Haiti.
The shirts are made out of organic cotton and recycled plastic and spun here in the United States. That fabric is then taken to their facility in Haiti, where they cut and sew together the shirts.
So far, more than 130 people are employed in that facility in Haiti, and they are already anticipating they'll need to hire an additional 100 next year.
"It really is making an environmentally conscious shirt that is going to benefit people other than capitalists," said Aubrianne Veuleman, owner of Definition Industries.
What that company did is they were funding these orphanages that took care of economic orphans in Haiti and provided jobs there in Haiti there for not only kids who are aging out of orphanages," said Charlie Veuleman. "But also for parents of children who are in orphanages and they want to get those out."
This program they're involved in, not only brings better-paying jobs but also teaches orphans aging out of the system valuable life skills so they can be prepared to live on their own and provide for their families.
"I really believe in what we are doing and I feel like we are making a difference for a lot of people," said Aubrianne.
"We can pay a living wage, a wage where these people can support their homes, support their children. It's estimated that everybody working in this facility that's sewing down these garments is supporting up to 8 people in their own home," said Charlie.
Definition industries will start printing on the shirts at the end of May and June.
"Customers that want to get involved, that want to wear a shirt that they know has a story behind it, not necessarily just a blank good that was purchased off the shelf, a shirt that has a story, if they want to get involved in that, May and June is going to be the timeline for that locally," said Charlie.
He added, "a lot of local brands that we print for, that already use great garments, nothing wrong with the garments they use, but they've already made verbal commitments as well to move over to these more ethically produced products. I think it's going to be a really cool change."
The money made from the blank shirts made in Haiti will go back to the orphanages they are partnered with.
Charlie says his company will make a profit off printing on those shirts, but the garment itself is not marked up in anyway. He added, "the orphanages and the kids there are the ones that are seeing the monetary expression of what the project does."
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