When I found out the cause behind The Little Market I knew I wanted to get involved. I asked the girls to answer a few questions for me so I could help share their new venture.
Tell us a bit about yourselves…
We met while studying at FIDM in 2006 and have since become travel buddies and dear friends.
Hannah – When I was growing up social justice was a very important part of my life. I have always wanted to find a way to give back to women and children in need. I have a passion for design, travel, and empowering women. These elements all come together at The Little Market so that each supporter is changing lives.
Lauren – I studied Fashion design and have worked in the fashion industry for seven years, currently designing two clothing lines; LC Lauren Conrad and Paper Crown. Working one-on-one with gifted artisans to design objects and develop artisan groups outreach efforts has been an amazing experience. The Little Market has allowed me to combine my love for design, travel and empowering women.
What is The Little Market?
The Little Market works with artisan groups in developing countries around the world who meet our fair trade, fair wages, and fair workplace standards. In this partnership the artisans create one-of-a-kind treasures, we offer design insights and the marketplace site, and customers allow the artisans to reach a global market. Each purchase makes it possible for the women to earn wages to support their families, for the artisan groups to offer health and education services, and for the customer to connect directly to the artisans.
How did the idea of The Little Market begin?
At the local markets in Bali in 2010 we discovered fabrics in rainbow colors, stamped tin boxes piled to the rafters, and handwoven baskets in every shape and size. In El Salvador in 2011 we began brainstorming about a way to give artisans an online platform for their handmade goods. While visiting ngo’s in Tanzania and Uganda in 2012 we met with hardworking women who were struggling to support themselves. We asked experts in International Development about the most sustainable way to set up an online store to support artisans from around the world. After strategizing with non-profit Global Goods Partners in New York, we have spent the last year working on product development with the ten initial artisan groups representing Bolivia, India, Mexico, Nepal, and Peru.
You traveled to several countries around the world in search for artisans to team up with. What was this experience like?
When you meet with the artisans in their homes and workshops, all of the data and statistics fall away and suddenly you discover the faces, names, and stories that give context to each object. For example in Puno, Peru the women of Manuela Ramos continued to knit without a pause throughout our three-hour visit! We have seen first-hand the dedication of the artisans to preserving techniques that have been passed down through generations. Our hope is that the artisans and their crafts, families, and villages will leave The Little Market supporters inspired to learn more.
Your focus is on helping women in poverty. How has working with women in these conditions impacted you?
When we meet women who continue on with hope despite living with hardships from extreme poverty to unimaginable trauma, it moves us to work as hard as we can on their behalf. We are humbled by the women we work with and grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in their future.
What are your future goals for The Little Market?
We would love for The Little Market to grow so that we can include the handmade crafts of more artisans in a variety of materials from new artisan groups throughout additional countries. Every time you select a present or treat yourself at The Little Market you are contributing to this growth, giving the greatest gift of all.
How can we help?
Check The Little Market’s blog for ways to help. We will highlight women’s charities that do good work effectively. You can help these groups by raising awareness or volunteering, participating in events or fundraising.
Pictured above are just a few of the products featured in The Little Market shop (drooling over that pretty gift wrap). I snagged the cutest little journal for myself. I really love how the item descriptions tell you what country it was made in, along with a story of the woman or organization that made it. How special to know that your purchase is directly effecting the lives of these women!
I plan to do some Christmas shopping (for others and/or myself?!) at The Little Market because I love a gift with an extraordinary story behind it. xo JA