Kréyol fashion brand opens brick-and-mortar shop
Visitors to Bow Market in Somerville’s Union Square can now spot the vibrant colors and chic silhouettes of local designer Joelle Fontaine in the windows. Fontaine opened the first brick-and-mortar shop for her brand Kréyol at the end of May and has quickly become a part of the local business marketplace.
Kréyol did a pop-up test run at Bow Market in December and gained more than 100 new customers during their 21-day trial. That exposure, particularly in the chilly winter months, sealed the deal for Fontaine.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she says. Kréyol’s offerings are threefold. Shoppers can purchase fashions designed by Fontaine and crafted individually by her mother, order a custom piece from the duo and shop the marketplace of global female artisans that Fontaine stocks in the store.
The artisan offerings are a key piece for Fontaine. Supporting artisans, particularly women of color, and empowering both their businesses and the wearers of their garments and accessories, is her life’s work.
“That’s always been my mission: to be able to support people back home with the business,” she says. These artist offerings include handcrafted leather goods by Haiti Design Co. and beautifully woven blankets from the Beyond Borders Collective out of Ecuador, among many other items.
With the brick-and-mortar shop, Kréyol has the space to showcase even more artisans. They also have room for a local artist wall. Each month a new artist will be featured in the stylish shop with their work available for purchase. As always for Fontaine, her success is the community’s success — she wants to uplift other artists with her.
This core philosophy of spreading the artistic love extends to her own designs as well.
“The Refugee Collection was inspired by everything that happened last year with the Haitian refugees being returned at the Texas border,” says Fontaine. “We really started thinking about what it means to feel safe, the concept of refuge and safety and who gets to feel safe.”
The collection mixes utilitarian silhouettes and colors with more feminine and flirty details. Pieces like Kréyol’s signature Kimono jacket can be worn casually or in more formal settings depending on the styling. A portion of the proceeds from the collection will be sent to nonprofit organizations in Haiti.
Fontaine also hopes having the in-person space will allow her to do more custom work. Clients now have a beautifully appointed home base where they can come to be fitted and discuss their vision for a garment with Fontaine and her mother. She’ll also be hosting private shopping events for occasions like birthdays and bridal showers. The ability to have these moments of personal connectivity is important to Fontaine.
The brick-and-mortar shop is a big step for Kréyol, and Fontaine is already working on her next goals to make the most of this move. Short term those goals are adding more artists to the space and engaging a wider staff and production team, long term it means making Boston a flagship store and expanding globally.
“Our brand is the kind of brand that you have to experience for yourself,” says Fontaine. “It feels really good to have a home.”
Kréyol is open at Bow Market Thursday–Sunday from 11 a.m.–6 p.m.