By Onz Chery
The laureate of the 2005 Pere Pierre Ridgway High School’s ninth grade state exams didn’t fail to exceed expectations. Zimaco Merizier started the highly-acclaimed clothing brand that creates clothing from Haiti’s flag, Trillionaire Mind Media Group (TMMG).
Merizier launched TMMG in 2010 with savings from his graphic design and photography work. Ten years later, more than 30 celebrities have sported the brand’s attire. He has designed a variety of clothing and accessories, including shirts, bathing suits, sandals and facemasks with the bicolore.
From the early days when he stayed on his grind to meeting Wyclef Jean, from life in Haiti to his current home in Miami, Merizier tells it all to The Haitian Times in an exclusive interview, lightly edited for clarity.
THE HAITIAN TIMES
What were your early years like?
I was born in Port-de-Paix in 1989. I only experienced love, peace and fraternity in Haiti. At 16, I was in the graphic design industry in Saint-Louis-du-Nord. I attended school at Pere Pierre Ridgway High School, where I was the laureate for the ninth grade state exam.
I played soccer and was selected from the northwest department to join the Haitian Youth National Soccer team.
THT: What was moving to the United States like?
Moving to the United States was very surprising to me. I only found out a few months before. I was at University INUKA then, studying computer science.
The part that was awkward was knowing I was going to leave everything behind to go live in another country and not knowing when I will be back. On the other hand, I was happy to know I would see my mother, brothers — I have two brothers and one sister — and other family members that I haven’t seen in so long or never met before.
THT: What inspired you to become a designer?
I was born a designer. I started to practice it later, then founded TMMG. I grew up around sewing shops in my family. I was always inspired by my dad Clerizier Merizier when he was making suits and soccer jerseys. He was a great designer.
I was always into creating unique designs and different approaches. My goal was always to see that Haiti has a brand that focuses on spreading a good image of the country through art and fashion and to connect all Haitians around the world.
Every designer has a drive, these are the things that keep inspiring me everyday. I believe I can change Haiti’s face. Changing Haiti’s face is what inspired me.
THT: What was the process of creating the brand like?
The process of creating TMMG was not a struggle because I had a clear vision in mind. What I wanted to do was create a brand that was going to promote our Haitian culture, heritage and values. It was a matter of believing in myself and enjoying the journey.
TMMG did not take long to start running because I had all the skills and background necessary to run a clothing company. When I made my first sale, I said, ‘TMMG Clothing Brand made it now, the journey has begun.’ Later everyone was talking about TMMG on all social media platforms.
I advertised TMMG on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google and Bing. The first days were really fun. The customers were supportive just as they are today. Our customers always enjoy shopping with TMMG.
THT: How did you raise money to launch the clothing brand?
I believe in this quote that says, “Start with what you have.”
When I started TMMG it was with the very little money that I had from expertise on the web, graphic designing and photography. I combined all my skills, then the time came for the perfect business model.
THT: When would you say you made a breakthrough with TMMG?
Three years ago I received a call from Lucci Bags, who are close to Wyclef Jean. They told me Clef discovered my brand and he really loves it and that he was currently in Miami for his album Carnival 3’s release party.
Wyclef wanted the TMMG Haitian Flag Dashiki collection. I met with Wyclef at 99 Jamz. When I pulled up he was excited to meet me and removed his T-shirt to put on one I brought him. He told me TMMG isn’t just a brand, but also a movement he supports. After this wonderful moment with Wyclef Jean, I said TMMG is big.
THT: Can you name some celebrities who wore TMMG?
Haitian Fresh, Kodak Black, DJ Whoo Kid from G-Unit, DJ Tony Mix, Izolan, J Perry, members of the T-Vice band, of the Djakout#1 band, and all of the members of Rockfam Lame-a. Boxers Stiverne Bermane, Melissa St. Vil and more. But the biggest Haitian celebrity to wear TMMG is the Haitian mega star himself, Wyclef Jean.
THT: What is the most sold TMMG piece of clothing?
TMMG’s best seller is the men’s dress shirt of the Haitian Flag Dashiki collection. It reflects our African Heritage. This collection is available from head to toe.
THT: What would you say was your lowest point with TMMG?
When COVID-19 happened, it really hurt the company because our manufacturer had to shut down for months and we were not able to fulfill our orders. We didn’t celebrate Haitian Flag Day either. But all that didn’t stop TMMG from striving harder than before. We designed fashionable face masks that became famous.
THT: What else do you hope to accomplish with TMMG?
Last year we launched an organization within TMMG called ‘Ann Bati Haiti,’ or Let’s Build Haiti. We have a variety of elaborate projects on our to-do list that will create different programs for youths in Haiti.
We already started soccer camps in Saint-Louis-du-Nord. We’re hoping to work on farming and tourism as well. We also have collaborated with boxing organizations in Haiti. One of them is called Guepat Boxing in Cité Soleil. TMMG is the official brand for boxing in Haiti.
Onz Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, Cosmopolitan Soccer League, and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz became one of ESNY’s sports journalists then joined The Haitian Times.