Brandaid partners with Selfridges

The U.K. department store will carry a new collection of handmade products from Haiti in partnership with the charity.
tobacco vase

London, U.K.-based department store Selfridges, owned by Canadian Galen Weston, is set to carry VoduNuvo, a new collection of handmade products from Haiti created in partnership with Brandaid. The collection hit shelves Sept. 24, and is a collaboration between Vodu artisans (often incorrectly referred to as Voodoo), Canadian designers (involved as consultants), and ad agencies, including Canada’s JWT, Taxi, DDB and Ogilvy.

Brandaid is a micro-marketing model that seeks to bolster economies by creating strong for-profit brands built around artist groups and collectives in poor communities, says Tony Pigott, co-founder of Brandaid and CEO of JWT Canada. While products have been in three retailers across 30 stores since 2009, including other major department store Macy’s, the Selfridges partnership marks the biggest umbrella-brand launch for Brandaid, says Pigott.

He says the VoduNuvo project began in 2011 when Brandaid was approached by the Canadian International Development Agency to bring eight Haitian artistic collectives to life. Tapping into local Haiti communities – still devastated by the 2010 earthquake that destroyed most of the island’s infrastructure – Brandaid partnered the locals with Canadian and U.S. agencies to help develop a strong branded identity to help sell the artwork. Participating agencies create backstories for the art collectives, and digital assets, such as photography and video, to help spread the artwork’s sale.

This model means more money in the hands of the artist. Since retailers often have to cover the marketing costs of artisan products, only 2 to 8% of the profits tend to make it back to the creators; under Brandaid’s model, this jumps to 35%.

“The collection is incredibly commercially attractive,” Pigott says. “The intention is not for this to be seen as charity but a really smart new business opportunity for all. There’s an enormous marketplace for consumers who are looking for authentic handmade things created with integrity.”