When friends Birgit Grossmann Coles and Lori Manuel Steed met almost 20 years ago, they had no idea that they would one day combine their shared passion for art with their shared compassion for Haiti. After experiencing the devastating results of the 2010 earthquake, both were compelled to help. SIMBI came into being with a mission to ‘Save Lives, Improve Lives, & Empower Lives’ by creating sustainable jobs and providing clean water for the people of Haiti. SIMBI’s non-profit foundation, Aqua Haiti, supports, promotes and finances water purification throughout the country in addition to partnering with organizations to bring awareness and education of the importance of filtered water and proper hydration. Relying solely on solar-powered energy, SIMBI’s manufacturing facility in Haiti has a zero carbon footprint. And, its use of organic, biodegradable products and ‘up-cycling’ philosophy falls directly in line with the founding partners’ commitment to corporate social responsibility.
Birgit Grossmann Coles, Co-Founder of SIMBI
Married to a Haitian, Birgit has lived in Haiti for the last 20 years where she raises her family. She holds a degree in International Business from The George Washington University that she put to good use creating the first on-line art gallery based in Haiti, Art Media Haiti, with her partner Lori. An American with German heritage, this mother of three has embraced Haiti and it’s culture, passionately participating in local philanthropic events. She is a dedicated admirer of Haitian art and has helped promote it locally and internationally.
Now as President of SIMBI INC, she runs the company from both Haiti and their sales headquarters in Fort Lauderdale Florida.
“I witnessed firsthand the destruction, devastation and despair caused by the earthquake in 2010, and saw a way to help through manufacturing and charity.”
Lori Manuel Steed, Co-Founder of SIMBI.
Lori was born and raised in Haiti where she still resides with her family. At a young age, she developed a passion for fashion inspired by her talented grandmother who created perfectly made clothes using all sorts of Haitian arts and crafts, with a contemporary sense of style. A trained graphic artist, Lori is also a curator of Haitian art, having promoted and organized numerous exhibits in Haiti and abroad for over 20 years. In her role as a founding board member of Artists Institute, the first free college of art and technology in the country’s history, Lori passionately fosters creativity among Haitian youth and enjoys her role as a speaker on Haitian heritage and history.
Lori is the Creative Director at SIMBI INC and based in her home country of Haiti.
“After the earthquake of January 2010 that devastated Haiti I wanted to put my experienced background to help empower Haitian women socially and economically by promoting high quality craft like, sewing, embroidery, beadings and silkscreen”.