The Haiti Artisan Co-Op was co-founded by an Ashland native after he saw a need while living in Haiti. Co-founder and CEO Parker Touchton, 24, said his interest in Haiti started from a young age. Touchton said his father went on a mission trip to Haiti, and then presented to Touchton’s class on Haiti upon arrival.

Since then, Touchton has had an interest in missionary work within Haiti. He took his first mission trip with Garner Baptist Church in June 2017. Touchton said after spending some time in Haiti, he learned a lot, including the particular challenge locals face when selling products to missionaries. That’s when the Haiti Artisan Co-Op, founded in October, stepped in to help.

“(In Haiti) there are tons of artists who make nice things, but they were depending on mission teams to buy their items,” said Touchton. “When mission teams stopped coming due to the political unrest, the artists lost all of their potential customers.”

The Haiti Artisan Co-Op is a for-profit business, with the dream of creating 1,000-plus jobs in Haiti. Touchton said he hopes to be a self-sustaining missionary in Haiti through the profits of the website.

“Our goal is to find these artisans and help them export their products to a global marketplace,” said Touchton. “Historically these artisans haven’t been able to export products due to the lack of knowledge when it comes to export and import. They don’t have a place in America to store items, they do not know how to market and they also have never had a platform like ours before.”

Touchton said the company is also partnering with already-established brands and companies within Haiti.

“Buying a product from Haiti, you are literally helping provide hope to a country that is rather hopeless,” said Touchton. “We have a wide range of products and I am certain you can find something you or someone you know will like.” Touchton said that he hopes to return to mission work in Haiti within the next year.

Touchton said some popular products through the Haiti Artisan Co-Op include Ayiti Metal Art and Stone Work by Larette.

“These are the two local artisans we work with,” said Touchton.

Products from the Haiti Artisan Co-Op can be purchased locally at the new Gillum Drug, at 1237 Carter Ave., said Touchton. For more information on available products at Gillum Drug, visit https://www.gillumdrug.com/ or call (606) 393-5588.

Local youth groups and schools are encouraged to reach out to the Haiti Artisan Co-Op, said Touchton, as they prepare to launch new fundraisers.

For more information or to purchase products, visit https://www.haitiartisancoop.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/HaitiArtisanCoop/.

(606) 326-2654 |

ccarver@dailyindependent.com

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