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Are you POZE?

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Every now and then something amazingly simple is introduced to us and becomes an instant must-have. We are attracted by the obvious simplicity of the design, its functionality or any of the other features that makes it so appealing. We even wonder why we weren’t the ones to come up with it. I’m sure some of you, at one point in time, had a great idea that would take over the world until you realized that someone else already made it happen! Whenever that happens, you either put your thinking snapback on or, like most people, you hate. You may be a hater for a while, but after the initial fanfare you just chill. Or as Haitians say, “ou just poze”!

Not too long ago while scrolling down my timeline on IG I saw this guy wearing a black hoodie with a red stripe highlighting white letters! A simple design used by some of the most popular urban graphic tee designers with a Haitian touch! A few months later this design is a hit! Everybody is talking about it, wearing it and some are already influenced or inspired by it.

We had the chance to sit for a Q&A with the creator of this line showing great promise. A young man with a vision. A young entrepreneur who possesses some level of sprezzatura which I think brings a breath of fresh air to the “graphic tee” culture that is growing so quickly in Haiti.

“Sprezzatura” is the art of making something that may require a lot of expertise and attention look effortless! Making something difficult look easy! This term is used a lot in the sartorial world a.k.a the fashion world to describe attitudes, styles or what some may refer to as swag. When you pull sprezzatura off, everyone around you think they can as well. “Yeah! That’s easy; I can do it too, probably even better”.

Most of the times, that’s not the case. We must understand that simple and easy are not the same. It’s more about the drive and passion of the person with the idea rather than the idea itself. A concept may be deceivingly simple but its execution quite difficult because it requires discipline, focus and a vision.

The message of this brand is simple and I think it’s best we hear it directly from the sender!


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Who is the man behind POZE?
My name is Jeff Appolon. A few people might recognize me from my Instagram page @effeappolon where I post funny videos about Haitians from time to time. I’m 27 years old. I’ve been living in Miami for the past 10 years where I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree in accounting.

What is “Poze” to you?
I think of “poze” as the coolest word in creole. Not only because it’s a universal word that anybody can use in pretty much any situation but also because it’s a simple word that carries a lot of meaning while keeping its own identity at the same time. I think of “poze” as the new word that foreigners need to know because I think we all can agree that the “sak pase” era paid its dues and is now long gone. As a new generation I think it’s our duty to teach the world something new about us, something practical that they can use when interacting with their Haitian friends, co-workers etc.

How did you come up with the idea?
The idea actually came up to me in a whole other way. I used the word “poze” in one of my vines to highlight how that word can have so many different meanings and can be used differently depending on the tone or context. Months went by and I didn’t really think about it. When I got more serious about starting a Haitian brand that people can identify with, that specific video popped up in my head and it all made sense.

Who is the POZE customer?
I think the POZE customers are Haitians of any age or gender. Because when you think about it, who has a great conversation without saying “poze”? In fact, I think that the POZE customer can be anyone, a foreigner who has ties to Haiti or the Haitian culture or just someone who saw, heard and fell in love with the word. I see them as a tight community with multiple backgrounds and interests but besides all of the differences they have Haiti in common. For me the POZE customer ranges from someone who grew up in Haiti, lived there all their life all the way to someone like Sean Penn who fell in love with Haiti and is trying to help the country as much as he can.

What is the ultimate goal of POZE brand?
Our ultimate goal is to become an established brand with long term success. I don’t think of it as a campaign or something seasonal. We want to be the go to brand for all Haitians who want to wear something that is tied to their identity or when they want to express themselves and teach other people about where they’re from. We are working on getting our products into local stores and also in most cities with large Haitian communities while having a great online presence and moving forward with technology. I believe with hard work, patience and especially with the help and support of the customers who believe in our brand, the goal can and will be achieved.

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What has been your biggest challenge as an upcoming brand?
I think one of our biggest challenges now is getting the word out there. Letting people know about the brand and what it represents. It’s a fast world out there and one has to fight hard to stay relevant. People have so much to consume right now that they forget about you the moment they scroll pass your picture.
Another great challenge we have is trying to change the mentality of the Haitian consumer and their perception on shopping online. All over the world online shopping is overtaking regular retail shopping at malls etc. But in Haiti, consumers tend to shy away from technology and that is a major problem. Because of that attitude we limit ourselves from so many options and we also limit our reach. A lot of times people see me and tell me that they want to buy a t-shirt, hat or hoodie and even though it pleases me that they are interested in buying the products it’s challenging and kind of hard to understand why the person wouldn’t want to place the order online at their own leisure and time. We’ve put in place a website that is very user friendly, while providing the customer with a secure and convenient shopping experience. The tools are there, it’s just hard convincing everyone to take advantage them.

What should we expect from POZE brand in the near future?
Like I mentioned earlier our main goal is to create a long lasting, reputable brand. With that said, you can expect new designs, new items, new colors, and new collections very soon. I want to keep our designs current with all the new fashion trends. We will also be making special edition shirts for upcoming events so keep an eye out for those; you will also see some collaborations on small collections. We believe our presence in Haiti is very necessary, we are currently talking with some clothing store owners to see how and when they will carry the POZE brand in their stores. Follow our Instagram page @pozebrand to get updates on our journey and visit our website pozebrand.com for a complete look of our current designs!

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