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SCI Artisans Featured in Bryant Park

December 6, 2013
SCI patients showing their necklaces
If you visit the St. Boniface Spinal Cord Injury Clinic in Fond des Blancs, Haiti, there’s a big chance you’ll see jewelry making going on. Beads and pliers are often spread across several tables in the multipurpose room. But it’s not only for fun. It’s for a program called Bay Lavi, or ‘give life’ in Kreyol. Bay Lavi is a line of the young jewelry brand eff.Y.Bee, and provides employment and skills to SCI women through jewelry making, while marketing their creations online. But the market has now expanded, with the pop-up of a holiday booth at Bryant Park in New York City.

Alyssa Kuchta is the head of eff.Y.bee, an acronym for ‘follow your bliss’. In college, Kuchta got involved with the student group Students for Haiti at the University of Delaware soon after the 2010 earthquake. She created a bracelet to sell as part of the group’s fundraising efforts, and the idea for Bay Lavi began to grow. Now, the jewelry made by artisans at the St. Boniface SCI clinic are proudly featured at Booth F11 in Bryant Park.

“I’ve had customers from every state across the US all the way to the other side of the world in Australia- you never know who you may meet,” says Kuchta. The Bay Lavi program does not intend to be a charity, she explains, but a way for wheelchair-bound women iHaiti to achieve financial and personal independence. The jewelry is sold in the U.S. for a higher price than it could be in Haiti, and a portion of each sale goes to the artisan who made it. Eventually, says Kuchta, the goal is to replicate the program at multiple locations in Haiti, and provide each artisan with a stable monthly salary.

This winter, the booth will be open from Nov. 1st to January 5th, and Alyssa Kuchta will be there nearly every day, telling her story and those of the artisans who made the jewelry on display. The St. Boniface SCI center has helped heal physical and mental wounds, and now the Bay Lavi program is helping with job opportunities. If you are in New York this December, see if you can check out the eff.Y.bee booth! The website is a good second option, and the video below provides a peek at the store.

“A lot of love goes into every piece of jewelry and what makes our company unique is what we stand for and hope to inspire in others,” says Kuchta, “that when you follow your bliss, anything can happen.”

Location: Booth F11 nearest corner of 42nd & 6th avenue, facing the rink Hours: Mon-Friday 11-8pm, Sat 10-9pm, Sun 10-6pm