As the emotional aftershock from the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti rippled through his household, Neil Koppel knew what had to be done. During a successful career in textiles and garment manufacturing, he had become familiar with the country and its inhabitants.
With Haiti in shambles following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, Koppel turned to wife nikki without hesitation.
“I need to go there,” Neil said. “I need to help.”
“Go,” Nikki said.
Thus began a journey that would involve more than 50 flights to Haiti in the PC12 Pilatus that Neil pilots, a connection to an Oscar-winning actor and the formation of a Boca-based bracelet company—Links Jewelry—on a benevolent mission.
In the months following the earthquake, Neil began delivering muchneeded supplies and equipment to the Haitian people. During one of the trips, he met Sean Penn at the airport; the two quickly bonded over their shared passion to help the earthquake victims. The question the two men asked over and over wasn’t how they could do more to help—but how could they help the Haitian people help themselves.
To that end, Neil was instrumental in building a 21-home village in Jacmel that allowed 125 Haitians to relocate and start life anew. Neil and Penn then focused on employment; nearly two-thirds of the country did not have a formal job, according to CIA estimates.
Enter Nikki, who developed a unique and stylish adjustable linked bracelet with a patented design. The result, starting in early 2012, was Links Jewelry— which immediately teamed with Penn’s Haitian relief organization, JP/HRO.
The bracelets are made in a Boca factory using American supplies and a Haitian immigrant labor force. Ten percent of all sales (not profits) go to Penn’s charity.
If the company grows as anticipated, the Koppels and Penn will open a factory in Haiti and create much-needed employment opportunities.
To purchase a bracelet or to learn about the company, visit linksjewelry.com.