Executing extravagant celebrations is central to Haitians. If you are familiar with Haitian parties, you might have tasted exquisite menus, witnessed eye-catching decor, or danced the night away to kompa or zouk music.
However, while those aspects of the gatherings are important, they represent only the surface of what it means to host a Haitian event. That is why when the founder of Modernique & Co, Fabie Reid, learned about the international gatherings of Dîner en Blanc, she knew it had to be done in her native country—Ayiti (Haiti in Haitian Creole).
Establishing Dîner en Blanc in Haiti
Dîner en Blanc is a global event that convenes thousands of guests in select cities to break bread and connect with others—all while dressed in chic white attire. Launched in 1988 in Paris, the extravagant picnic-esque experiences have reached almost 80 cities in 30 different countries.
In 2016, Dîner en Blanc reached out to Reid to lead the event production in Orlando. The eager entrepreneur with years of experience in the hospitality and event industry says, “We did our first Dîner en Blanc in Orlando, and then from there we fell in love with it and got approached by the international team to do more,” Reid shares.
For years, the event producer and her team hosted various Dîner en Blanc experiences across Florida to support the overall brand. While the production team has access to the international brand's platform for marketing purposes, there is still a tremendous amount of effort to ensure the event's success Reid notes. “90% of the work is still on you as a producer.”
To stay true to their aspirations, the team decided they needed to take the experience to Haiti. Reid was born on the Caribbean island and felt a special connection to hosting the event there. However, she knew this would not be an easy task.
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Debunking Myths About Haiti
With Haiti constantly portrayed in a negative and racist light when talked about in the media, getting the international Dîner en Blanc team on board was Reid's first task. To her surprise, this was not the first time the collective hosted the event in Haiti. In previous years, it was produced in Port-au-Prince. However, Reid was on a mission to reinstate the license for the country, all while rebranding the luxury picnic to serve a new purpose.
“I sent them a full proposal that served as a geography lesson detailing the different cities. Every city has issues. Those issues should not represent the whole country,” she says.
Ultimately the determined entrepreneur got the proposal approved. However, that was just the first of many challenges that would arise. When the team decided to host the event in Cap-Haitien, they wanted to change the narratives associated with Dîner en Blanc and make it more accessible to the local community and Black people who have never traveled to Haiti.
Cap-Haitien is home to many eager entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses. Therefore, the team hosting the experience wanted to provide economic opportunities to those who sought advice on how to grow their work long-term.
“We do a lot of different workshops with locals. We don't want to just bring an influx of tourists. We want the businesses to be prepared for the support.”
Bringing Awareness to the First Black Republic
While eager Dîner en Blanc attendees get excited about the delicious Haitian foods they will eat or the white outfits they pick out, the team wants to highlight how unique and historical the grounds people will be standing on are.
“I want Black people in the diaspora to explore Cap-Haitien. This is where meetings took place to plan the country's revolution. It's so powerful, you can feel the ancestral spirit, and it gives you chills being here.” The Dîner en Blanc team and various businesses and departments are preparing for a sold-out event on Saturday, August 13.
Excited ticketholders will experience beach yacht days, surprise entertainment, fun infused dishes like passion fruit cheesecake, and intentional moments of reflection rooted in how far the country has come and where they hope to go.