The PowerUp! Kreyol Business Plan Competition announced it’s first ever winner on Monday, Sept. 28 and she’s from the fashion world!. Vicki Sylvain, designer of the Shoe-B, snagged the $5,000 grand prize followed by 2nd and 3rd place winners Nathalie Guillaume of Healing Happy Hour, and Hardy Hyppolite of Kreyol Kwizin. Sylvain was one out of 14 contestants vying for the prize.
Her business plan, product and message captivated the business minds and plucked the philanthropic hearts strings of the judges. Here’s why:
Haitian Times Style: How does it feel to be the very first winner of the Power Up Kreyol business plan competition?
Vicki Sylvain: Words can’t express how excited I am to be the first winner of a competition set in place to build the Haitian community. I am certain that I am making my ancestors proud. I feel proud.
HTS: What does being a Haitian designer mean to you?
VS: I honestly never thought I’d become a designer. It just sort of happened. However, it happened with the advancement of my work in Haiti in mind. I am excited that I was able to come up with a concept that allows me to remain true to my brand of addressing issues that affect women. The Shoe-B is a stylish clutch that provides a solution to women who love to wear heels, but carry “backup” flats for comfort. The ultimate goal is to move production to Haiti to help provide sustainable jobs to allow women to take care of their families. Currently 5 percent of each sale goes towards our work in Haiti.
HTS: When and how did you come up with the idea to create the Shoe-B?
VS: I attended several fundraisers and networking events. I’d see women getting dressed up, but carrying a plastic or large tote bag to carry their shoes. I just felt that it killed their look. Women needed a classy option that allowed them to carry their shoes fashionably and discreetly, and that is how the Shoe-B was born.
HTS: Where did the name come from?
VS: It’s actually short for The Shoe Bag, but I have always been fascinated with bumble bees. They do the impossible. Because of the size of their bodies in comparison with their wings, they should not be able to fly; however they do anyway. You will notice that in the middle of the logo is a bee. It represents strength, resiliency, and determination. All traits I aim to live by.
HTS: How will this grand prize of $5,000 take your business to the next level?
VS: The prize money will allow me to improve the online experience for our customers and also identify ways of enhancing The Shoe-B for our current and future buyers.
HTS: Where do you hope to see the Shoe-B in the next 5 years?
VS: Within the next five years I see production moving to Haiti. I can’t wait to place the “Made in Haiti” label on The Shoe-B. Every woman that wears heels will own a Shoe-B. We will have offices in New York and Haiti, with a presence in Paris, London, and Nigeria.
HTS: What advice do you have for young Haitian entrepreneurs and designers who may feel pressured to pursue their family’s dreams?
VS: Have a plan. Follow your own dreams. Our families will always have in mind what they want you to do, but it is your responsibility to remain true to your dreams. You don’t want to resent yourself because you didn’t pursue something you felt strongly about. Make sure you create a business plan. You’re the writer of your story. Everyone else is making guest appearances, but you are the main star. If you give someone the power to direct your movie, that’s your fault. Be true to yourself. Make yourself proud.
HTS: Fun fact!
VS: I can’t tell jokes. I laugh through the whole joke.
With such a powerful message behind her product and brand, it’s clear to see why Sylvain is the winner. The ShoeB is definitely a necessity for NYC women out on the town. I can’t wait to get a hold of my own. Check them out here.
If you’re an entrepreneur of Haitian descent and you’ve been inspired to compete, the competition is annual and you can find out more with the business library here. Best of luck!