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Legrand Lindor, CEO of CARIBBEAN APPAREL™ and LMI Textiles, works every day to inspire unity amongst Caribbean peoples through displays of pride in their own cultures. His company manufactures apparel and casual wear representing more than 23 different countries, from Trinidad & Tobago to Belize, giving wearers the chance to showcase their heritage boldly. “Our clients include national teams, Olympic athletes and NFL players,” says Legrand. Despite his company’s success, Legrand struggled to find an affordable loan to grow his company further until he received a $17,500 microloan through Impact Lending, a partnership between Northeastern University and LISC.
Launched last fall, Impact Lending provides financing to small businesses in Boston and other cities in Massachusetts. Northeastern University contributed $2.5 million to Impact Lending, which will help support $6.5 million in loans funded by LISC and other Boston lending partners. The goal of Impact Lending is to support and expand the local businesses that create jobs, drive economic growth, and bring vibrancy to Boston’s neighborhoods.
Impact Lending is providing capital to small businesses that might not qualify for traditional bank loans, specifically minority- and women-owned companies like Legrand’s business. Legrand is the ideal business owner the program seeks to support: a local entrepreneur who needed an affordable microloan to grow his business. “Impact Lending is important for Boston because it allows small businesses to grow, which is good for the community at large,” says Legrand. “Small businesses are the fibers of America and as they go, so does America.”
Born to Haitian parents in Boston, Legrand’s background influences the designs for CARIBBEAN APPAREL™. The company sells t-shirts depicting prominent Haitian figures, like Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the Haitian Revolution, and other cultural icons. Legrand’s customers love the opportunity to show off their Caribbean pride. “The best moments are when our customers share their photos and let us know how thankful they are to represent where they or their parents are from,” says Legrand.
Legrand planted the seeds for CARIBBEAN APPAREL™ in 2007, when he sold shirts at a Haitian student conference while studying law and business at the University of Connecticut. A decade later, Legrand distributes products worldwide and has increased his services to include custom silkscreen printing, embroidery, and textile manufacturing for other companies and manufacturing of protective equipment like safety vests and goggles.
The Impact Lending loan will go a long way towards shoring up operations for CARIBBEAN APPAREL™ and LMI Textiles. The business will save more than $2,000 in loan payments by refinancing existing high-interest debt at a more affordable rate, substantially improving its cash flow.
Ever mindful of his roots, Legrand has opened a manufacturing factory in Haiti to create jobs with good wages and safe working conditions, marrying his business’ future to his family’s past. “When I go to Haiti and talk to the people in my father’s hometown, many say they want jobs,” says Legrand. “The operations in Haiti are a way for me to fulfill my own dreams while helping others.”
Legrand plans to grow the textile factory in Haiti so that the company manufactures all its apparel in the Caribbean and creates more sustainable employment opportunities. At the same time, he hopes to bring together Boston and other Caribbean communities around the world through his company’s clothing. “A thriving small business can change the landscape of a neighborhood. I’m hoping mine can bring positive energy to my community.”
While running a business is challenging, Legrand draws inspiration from “L’Union Fait la Force,” the Haitian motto for “unity makes strength.” Its history is rooted in the Haitian Revolution and invokes a call for people to work together. “The motto embodies to me the efforts we as people must make to affect change in the world and realize that we cannot do it alone,” says Legrand.