PAPAIŸO Launches Online Marketplace for Caribbean Artisanal Luxury

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, December 2, 2020 — Caribbean-founded, California-based startup, PAPAIŸO, has launched their online discovery platform devoted to introducing Caribbean luxury brands to a global audience. Artisanal, culture-rich and sustainable by default, these brands are asserting their vision of values-based luxury at a time when the industry is in transition.

PAPAIŸO offers marketing, technology and logistics solutions tailored to the Caribbean luxury market. The new online platform is central to the ecosystem of services on offer to Caribbean brands. The startup emerges in a new COVID-19 reality where the luxury goods market, which grew by 4% in 2019 to €281 billion, is expected to contract by up to 35% this year (according to luxury industry authority Bain and Company). Experts point to digital platforms and innovative business models that speak to a more socially conscious consumer as keys to driving the market forward. In an industry where  over 70% of online purchase decisions involve a multibrand site, PAPAIŸO represents an important part of the Caribbean’s evolving luxury industry. Their artisanal focus represents a compelling value proposition for the new global luxury consumer who increasingly chooses brands that align with their values.

PAPAIŸO’s founder Micha Alleyne, is a proud daughter of the Caribbean, with a Trinidadian father and a Jamaican mother. Infact, the name PAPAIŸO is a spin on the Trinidadian slang, “papayo,” which means “wow!” -- an expression her father would often use when she was a little girl. While Micha’s professional roots are in marketing and film, it is her familial roots which really created the deep values from which PAPAIŸO was inspired. “PAPAIŸO’s aim is to preserve the whimsical, authentic spirit of our brand partners, while creating an enriching and sustainable model that can be scaled globally” says Micha. “The Caribbean has a strong legacy of extraordinary craftsmanship, with a community of designers and artisans who hone intricate skills that are sometimes passed down over generations. The Caribbean is well-positioned to tap into the new pulse of an evolving luxury industry that is showing an increasing affinity towards artisanal, values-driven brands with compelling stories. And so we’ve created this robust ecosystem purpose-built for the Caribbean -- the first of its kind. At the heart of this ecosystem is, which is part marketplace, part journal, with the sole purpose of sharing the stories of these magical brands with the world.” 

Based in California, PAPAIŸO enlisted a team of some of Los Angeles and the Bay Area’s most talented creatives to bring their launch campaign to life. From shooting with white-haired llamas in quaint farm towns in North California, to shooting with THE Aflac duck and former Miss Barbados in Los Angeles, PAPAIŸO’s imagery is other-wordly.

PAPAIŸO uses a hybrid made-to--order model. This model is more sustainable, since it reduces waste by allowing brands to produce what is needed. Made to order has gained renewed energy in today’s socially conscious climate, as criticisms mount about the luxury industry’s penchant for mass production and stressful conformity. While this model may be new to some, it has been the well established modus operandi for the Caribbean. “It is not our intention to join the ranks of back-breaking business models and harrowing processes that wreak havoc on people and planet, or that extract deleteriously from local communities. We are from the Caribbean, with a Caribbean perspective on luxury. We are reimagining this space and co-creating a new status quo with some of the most extraordinary brands from this region,” Micha explains.

One of the first brands to join PAPAIŸO is the quintessential Trinidadian fashion label MEILING by Meiling Esau. MEILING has been a beacon of Caribbean luxury for decades — a brand whose hand-stitched creations are worn across generations, and which harken back to a time when bespoke was the standard. “PAPAIŸO is a brilliantly curated home for luxury Caribbean style, that is perfect for this new time when the world looks to sustainable artisanal products,” says MEILING. “I am happy to be part of this movement going forward.” PAPAIŸO also features a plethora of apothecary and lifestyle brands across the English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean from islands such as the Dominican Republic St. Lucia and the US Virgin Islands. PAPAIŸO has also proudly partnered with artisans in Colombia and Mexico.

“PAPAIŸO can’t promise you next-day delivery or weekly collections,” says Micha, “but we anticipate that you will fall in love with this enchanting way to experience artisanal luxury from one of the most magical regions on earth.”