Spotlight on Female Founders: I Am Kréyol

Meet Joelle Jean-Fontaine, Founder and CEO of I Am Kréyol, a high-end women's fashion brand using fashion as a catalyst for change. Creating a movement focused on empowering women to be their best selves, every purchase supports poor and disenfranchised women in the U.S. and eventually Joelle’s homeland of Haiti.

Why did you apply to MC?
I applied to MassChallenge because I understood it to be the best of the best as it pertained to accelerator programs. I wanted to reach the next level in my business and be surrounded by people who would challenge me to be my best. It has been a tremendous experience to have such great mentors and so many resources at our fingertips. Honored to have been chosen to be here.

What's your personal motto or quote that keeps you pushing ahead?
"In the end, I win." This has been my way to push through any obstacle because I already know the end goal so I'm not tainted by what it may look like today. I have not been blessed with these dreams and talents just to try and fail. I am here to succeed, not just for myself but for those around me - for the women that I will impact through my business. So, when the journey seems impossible and I am tired (both physically and mentally), I remember the end goal and that keeps me going. I don't dwell in the moment. I'm fighting to win the war.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
When I was a child I wanted to be an architect, a creator of sorts. I wanted to run a huge firm, with an office overlooking the entire city and have my designs all over the world. I did not become a building architect per se, but I'd like to think that I became an architect of great artistry through fashion. I also believe that we are right in line to having that office with an amazing skyline and I Am Kréyol designs all over the world.

After work, where can we find you?
I am usually with my son eating a good meal or at the ICA. It's my favorite place to hide out and lose myself in some art.

What do you do every morning to start your day on the right track?
Every morning before I start my day, I pray and meditate and go for a run to clear my head. As an entrepreneur and a mom, I am often overloaded with juggling too much. I need to be in a good space spiritually in order to be able to maintain my peace in the chaos and tackle everything with a clear mind.

Favorite place to eat in Boston?
My favorite place to eat in Boston is Genki Ya in the theater district. They have the best sushi.

How many cups of coffee get you through a day?
I don't drink coffee, but I have about eight cups of tea per day - lemon ginger or peppermint.

Where do you go to get inspiration?
I am inspired by nature and believe it or not - Home Depot. I know that sounds strange, but I love the nuances and colors in piping and paints, nuts and bolts. I am always building embellishments out of non-traditional items. I think it's the architect in me that naturally gravitates toward structural items for the shape and functionality. Nature allows me to lose myself, which then brings me to a place of freedom and creativity. I do my best design work after a long walk in the woods or watching the sunset.