“You can’t run away from who you are forever….eventually you’ll have to come back,” were the words spoken to Berny Martin while taking time off in London after his first failed attempt at a fashion show in Indianapolis.
Not giving up on what you stand for was the attitude embedded in him during his teenage years in Brooklyn, New York. After moving to Indianapolis for college studies, Berny became “the best joke ever” - as he describes - among his friends still living in Brooklyn. He challenged them to come see Indy for themselves.
His friends were surprised and shocked by the diverse city as some of Indy’s neighborhoods reminded them of New York City. It was then his friends challenged him with the idea to do a fashion show.
“Everything that could’ve gone wrong, went wrong: the models didn’t know how to walk, hair and makeup were falling apart, the lighting wasn’t working, the music cut out… it was horrible,” says Berny, “I felt like giving up.”
After returning from his London sabbatical, Berny decided to reconnect with his roots and give fashion a real shot. Drawing inspiration from the lessons his grandmother taught him as a child growing up in a violent Haiti torn by political turmoil, Berny began sewing together the fabrics of love and diversity to create a clothing line inspired by travel.
“My grandmother was the person who gave me love and sheltered me. Embracing love as a way of living, not violence…building community versus destroying it. We can express ourselves through creativity and art …not through war,” says Berny.
Love and travel is a way of life for Berny and the inspiration behind his clothing line Catou. Each piece draws from his experiences and knowledge gathered from the places he’s traveled around the world since he was a young boy. Catou incorporates aspects of diverse cultures through different fabrics, colors, and textures, unifying these diverse elements into one beautiful garment.
“When we read about a place we are reading someone else’s opinion,” explains Berny, who encourages travel more than anything else. Experiencing a place first hand challenges our thoughts and perceptions. Travel opens the door to a whole new world of possibilities.