Entrepreneur Roe Michel found a way to convey all his loves in one brand. The Miami-based businessman is the founder of cultural brand Vintage 1804 that allows him to showcase his passion for fashion, photography and his heritage as a Haitian-American.
Aside from his flagship tees, Michel also has what he terms an empowerment tote bag. Michel is part of a wave of entrepreneurs for whom Haitian heritage is a reason for pride and a flourishing business.
Kreyolicious: Why do you call your brand name Vintage 1804?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: I’m a student of history and love most things vintage, whether it be fashion, cars, photography, art, architecture, etc. That’s where the Vintage comes from.
The 1804 part came from the motivation that I feel when I think of the perseverance and tenacity that it required for the slaves in Saint DominIque to start and see the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804) through.
Ending slavery and establishing Haiti as the first republic ruled by people of African ancestry in the New World.
Kreyolicious: How did you interest in fashion designing begin?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: My interest in fashion started in middle school, I drew on my jeans, tshirts and jackets. I would cut jeans and jackets and paint tennis shoes.
I never thought of it as being fashionable. It was just tagging my clothes with words or designs that meant something like the Haitian emblem instead of on buildings. Well, on buildings too.
Kreyolicious: Did you take any fashion merchandising classes in high school?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: In high school my only fashion related course was dry cleaning. At this point, I was more interested in looking dapper then creating clothes.
Kreyolicious: Have you studied the art formally?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: My interest in sewing happened by chance. My friends and I would pay my girlfriend’s mom to sew items for us. One day, I arrived to pick up a jacket I had commissioned, and it wasn’t ready.
She was extremely busy and had not gotten a chance to sew my jacket. I needed the jacket for an event the next morning. I was so disparate that I asked to use her sewing machine. I stayed up that night, learning how to sew and sewing the jacket. I’m self-taught, for the most part.
The knowledge to create Vintage 1804 came from long nights of reading and studying fashion books, blogs and studying videos.
Kreyolicious: What role do you think social media has played in bringing the Haitian-American community together?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: Social has been an international visa to the Haitian-American community. The impact is very visible. We use it to inform and educate about Haiti and the Haitian diaspora. Everything from fashion, politics, comedy, networking, cuisine and history is discussed, shared and dissected.
Kreyolicious: What do you like best about running the Vintage1804 brand?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: The Empowerment of youth both here in the states and in Haiti. Recently, a nine-year-old girl grabbed our t-shirt “The Haitians” with a picture of Jean-Jacques Dessalines’ picture on it with so much excitement and told her parents, “I learned about Dessalines in school. Can i have it?”.
Knowing that the youth is being empowered by these designs is a blessing. I’ve also committed to use the funds from Vintage 1804 for the education of my nephew, nieces and neighborhood kids in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Kreyolicious: Where do you hope to take the brand?
Roe with Vintage Haiti: Our latest release is our Haiti Empowerment t-shirt and bags. I’m hoping to appeal to the Haitian diaspora and a universal audience. If I can remind every Haitian to empower Haiti according to their means and abilities, then I’ve served my purpose.
Last Updated on February 16, 2023 by kreyolicious