Bringing Haitian Uniqueness to New York Jewelry lines

  • Posted by Marina Vatav
  • September 11, 2014 5:15 AM EDT

Bold, confident, and spiritual. Marie Valerie Placide is an earthquake survivor who converted her passion for jewelry into a business during some of the most difficult times of her life.

Turning it around

After the earthquake destroyed her house in Haiti, Marie Valerie moved to New York with her son, leaving behind a devastated country, friends, family, and her job as a project manager. She had to start a new life and face the pressures of its uncertainty. She started making jewelry as a healing process that made her feel closer to home.

"Because it was a way for me to start doing something with my hands and to not constantly be thinking about what's happening in my life, those creations would come to life," shared Marie Valerie.

As she was looking for jobs, and later trying to balance work, life and hobby, friends started buying her jewelry, then friends of friends would do the same. Now she is working full-time as the CEO and Designer for her jewelry company called BohioMania.

Currently BohioMania products sell in two stores in the New York area, as well as online and at craft fairs. Most of their customers are located in the US, but they also sell in the UK and Haiti.

Haitian uniqueness

"I create with my Haitian uniqueness," says Marie Valerie.

You can see her Haitian roots in the jewelry designs, particularly with her Aboriginal collection inspired by the Tainos, who once inhabited Hispaniola, and Haiti’s indigenous tribes' history. These pieces of jewelry are big and bold and are made of natural stones.
Another popular BohioMania line is the African jewelry collection made of African fabrics.
But this is not all. Marie Valerie is working on a new line of natural beads jewelry made of seeds from Haiti to be launched by next year.

Haiti is even present in the business name.

"When you look at the name, the name Bohio, it's Haiti, it means also Haiti. That was the name of Haiti in 1492, so they would call it Haiti Kiskeya or Bohio," noted Marie Valerie.
"The name BohioMania means my passion for Haiti. I would find my inspiration in those people that were leaving at that time in 1492 when we had big jewelry, people wearing big necklaces like those Tainos; so when you go to the aboriginal line, it's basically the image of those people."

Making a buzz

Looking forward, Marie Valerie is working on promoting her business as much as possible, and even open a studio in Haiti by next year.

"I would really like BohioMania to be a buzz so it becomes a household name, that people know it's a Haitian brand name, and they also know we are working on and have good quality products."