Michelle Jean

Founder & CEO

Michelle is the great grand-daughter from two families that built a thriving agricultural industry in Haiti. She continues a family legacy from 1860 of high quality Haitian coffee & cane sugar......

Michelle is first generation Haitian-American, best described as a serial entrepreneur and hospitality veteran. Michelle’s fondest childhood memories are those from her summers spent in Haiti with her grandmother and great grandmother. Her grandmother and great grandmother where the agricultural farmers market matriarchs of Croix-des Bouquets community. Many considered the market to be the back bone to the food source for the community between the farmers and locals.  Michelle, like most Haitian kids, knew coffee and unrefined sugar (rapadou) before hot chocolate. It’s fair to say coffee and unrefined sugar are part of her DNA.

In New York, Michelle has successfully launched numerous high-profile restaurants with renowned celebrity chefs from Food Network, and Food Emergency 911, with top chefs Alex Guarnaschelli, Tylor Florence, David Waltuck’s former Executive Sous Chef Keith Harry and cookbook author Rosa Losan Ross. She was the Executive Studio Director for Donna Karan’s studio, Stephan Weiss Studio, where she collaborated with Donna Karan to launch her Haiti initiative and later worked as a strategic consultant for multilateral banking institutions. Michelle remains driven by her experience in humanitarian aid and non-profit and believes the road to end charity as “hand out” is through job creation. Her solution was to work with the people one-on-one; and Zesa Raw was born. Michelle and her business partner Peter envisioned the creation of Zesa Raw Trading Post to benefit farmers and growers throughout the Caribbean, Latin America and elsewhere.