Making Beautiful Concrete Countertops in Haiti – Not Easy, but Worth It

Here at The Concrete Countertop Institute we have the pleasure of meeting students from around the world, each becoming a concrete ambassador of sorts when they head back home and start creating their works of art. Every country (whether it be the United States, Australia, or somewhere else) has its challenges and we love watching our students rise the opportunity to succeed. I recently had the chance to catch up with CCI alumna Tamika Craan who lives and works in Haiti. I’m excited to share some of her beautiful creations and her story with you today.

This stunning countertop was made using precast vibrated concrete.

Inspired by Television to Make a Change

When we think of sitting in front of a TV set rarely do think that a life changing moment is coming our way, but that’s exactly what happened to Tamika as she enjoyed a program about concrete sinks with her father-in-law on HGTV. As they watched the install of a decorative sink and countertop, he suggested that she start a decorative concrete business in Haiti. Tamika wasn’t convinced at first, but was curious enough to do a bit of research. The more she researched, the more interested she became and soon decided to make a go of it.

This beautiful outdoor table is made from foam cored GFRC.

This beautiful outdoor table is made from foam cored GFRC. The hardest part of this job was getting the table in place as it had to be transported up a very tight staircase before arriving at its rooftop home.

With a lifelong passion for construction (both her parents were civil engineers) and a degree in construction management from Florida International University she had the background needed to really dive in. She attended the Ultimate Concrete Countertop class with us in October 2012 and hasn’t looked back since.

Concrete in Haiti is Harder than You’d Think

Concrete is used for many construction projects in Haiti, so Tamika assumed a decorative concrete business would be easy, but decorative concrete isn’t the same as the plain gray stuff you see on the ground. Getting supplies is a major issue for her business. She explains, “The biggest challenge I find on every single project has to do with supply. Sometimes when a client asks me about the production time, I often have to add the time it will take me to buy my products online, and receive them in Haiti.” This can add weeks or months to a project.

This black bar top was created for Carafe and is displayed in the bar in one of Haiti's biggest hotels. The client wanted a large curved black bar with few seams. The total piece measures 21 feet and is made in three sections (1- 16 foot piece and 2- 2.5 foot pieces).

This black bar top was created for Carafe and is displayed in the bar in one of Haiti’s biggest hotels. The client wanted a large curved black bar with few seams. The total piece measures 21 feet and is made in three sections (1- 16 foot piece and 2- 2.5 foot pieces).

Supplies aren’t the only difficulty working in Haiti. Internet connectivity can also be an issue, especially in some parts of the country. And of course, there’s the challenge of building the market and educating potential clients. But, in spite of the challenges the market is developing and Tamika’s decorative concrete business DecoBton (named for the French word for concrete, “beton”) is growing.

This is one of Tamika's biggest projects to date and was her first time creating a mold for a curved piece.

This is one of Tamika’s biggest projects to date and was her first time creating a mold for a curved piece.

DecoBton hasn’t done much advertising at all, relying solely on social media, an expo or two, and word of mouth to grow the business. Tamika is excited at the prospects, “The market potential is definitely there, and we’re happy to be a part of this new wave of innovation in Haiti.”

The countertop was made using GFRC to reduce the weight, but still required 12 men to carry it into place. Transporting the supersized countertop up curved staircases to the third floor was a challenge (and a scary experience for Tamika).

The countertop was made using GFRC to reduce the weight, but still required 12 men to carry it into place. Transporting the supersized countertop up curved staircases to the third floor was a challenge (and a scary experience for Tamika).

To all our students around the world, we thank you for your hard work and diligence in spreading the word about concrete countertops in your area. Tamika and her company DecoBton are certainly doing their part in Haiti. View her website at www.decobton.com.

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us today!

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