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(Ben Margot/AP2010)
(Ben Margot/AP2010)

Project Jacmel

Business in Haiti: Courting Pottery Barn Add to ...

Update: This meeting didn't quite take place as I'd expected.

Read about it here.

My fingers are crossed that more than just a little romance took place today inside Bill Clinton's office at 55 West 125th Street in Manhattan.

Representatives from Brandaid Haiti, an Ontario-based non-profit involved in boosting the North American exposure of Jacmel's artisans were scheduled to gather there with members of the Clinton Foundation and staff from CHF International, a development agency invested in Haiti.

On the agenda was a discussion about how to boost the handicraft industry in Jacmel, a sector that has put the city on the international map but has nonetheless struggled for sustainable success.

It didn't help matters that the earthquake leveled much of its infrastructure - close to 50 ateliers used by artists to make masks and train apprentices were taken out by the quake.

More interesting than all of that though was today's invite list - apparently the former President himself extended personal invites to heavy-hitting fashion industry players Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Diane Von Furstenburg.

Also scheduled to attend were senior representatives from the World Bank, an investment fund under the International Development Bank and officials from the flush USAID.

And then there was Pottery Barn (which, to a legion of men and women who could make hundreds of papier-mache Christmas decorations with their eyes closed -- think hearts, stars, and snowmen -- could be the holy grail).

The goal of the meeting, according to CHF development officer Jennifer Marcy, was to discuss the possibilities and constraints associated with doing business in Haiti. And there's the question of commitment.

"We want Pottery Barn, who will be there, to commit to three trade missions per year - to come to Jacmel three times per year, look at the products," Ms. Marcy said. "We want that commitment to Haiti."

Lets hope hearts swelled enough today to seal some kind of a deal.

Follow on Twitter: @jessleeder

 

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