Supporting Women Through Equal Income Opportunity: A Behind The Scenes Look at The Little Market Journey

Throughout the Sisterhood Shopping journey, we have enjoyed encountering new partners that take their own opportunity and expand it to give back to communities around the world. This was the exact case when we came across The Little Market. The Little Market has created a community of support for several of our other partners. So not only do we know the products are amazing, but we also know the mission behind the community is one of equality, dignity, and support.

We were so excited to partner with The Little Market for our Winter Sisterhood Shopping box and are thrilled to have co-founder, Hannah Skvarla, share more of their story and the the story of the lives impacted through these items:

(SS): The more I learn about The Little Market, the more obsessed I am with each artisan and product group added to the site. Can you tell us more about how The Little Market started and how the mission statement was developed?

(TLM): Lauren (Conrad) and I met at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) in Orange County and quickly became friends — and later, travel buddies. Lauren told me that she was looking for a way to give back to others, so in 2012 we traveled to Africa to meet with nonprofits empowering women and children on the ground. We heard time and time again that these women simply wanted a way to earn a meaningful income so they could support their families. Many of them were already making beautiful handmade goods; they just didn’t have access to enough customers. Lauren and I leveraged our backgrounds in fashion and human rights to create The Little Market, a fair trade shop of ethically sourced products from around the world. Every purchase supports fair wages, safe work environments, and sustainable income opportunities for women in 28 countries (and counting).

(SS): Wow, I love that! What I love most, is that the mission is to empower the work that many of these amazing women are already doing. To support talent and hard work with sustainable opportunities. As you started working on The Little Market concept and design, is there a particular problem you were seeking to solve?

(TLM): Women are one of the most globally underserved and marginalized populations. In 2016, the World Bank recorded that 150 out of 195 countries have at least one law that treats men and women differently. Workwise, job opportunities don’t exist in the same numbers for women as they do for men, and the jobs that are available often pay women significantly less.

The Little Market is dedicated to leveling that inequity by supporting income opportunities for women in need. We believe that everyone deserves the right to dignified work, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, background, or geographical location. Through our commitment to fair trade, we strive to create a world in which everyone is treated with equal respect and dignity.

(SS): I read a similar report quoting the World Bank studies about the untapped economic potential when women are given the opportunity to provide for their families and communities. Like you said, the missing piece is creating the opportunity for equal income and sustainable employment, and we’re so grateful to have partners like The Little Market that are helping bridge this gap.

Can you tell us more about how you measure the success of reaching this goal or a success story The Little Market is most proud of?

(TLM): One way we measure success is by the number of lives we are able to impact. The more products we sell, the more dignified income opportunities we can support. Since 2013, we have grown to work with nearly 70 artisan groups and social enterprises in 28 countries around the world. We’re so proud of how much we’ve grown, and we hope to reach 100 artisan groups by the end of the year … though our biggest goal is to raise awareness for human rights and the importance of conscious shopping.

(SS): 100 artisans, let’s make that happen! I am curious, it is a big goal, and both you and Lauren have achieved so much over these 6 years. What personally attracted you to this cause?

(TLM): My parents emphasized the importance of helping others to me and my siblings throughout our childhoods, which I am so grateful for. Giving back and trying to make a difference in our community was just something we did. When I grew older, I had the opportunity to travel with amazing nonprofits, including Human Rights Watch, and learned so much about human rights, social justice issues, and gender inequality around the world. Doing something to alleviate some of these issues seemed natural.

(SS): And what do you think other people should know about The Little Market?

(TLM): Every purchase at The Little Market gives back directly to artisans and small-scale producers, each with their own incredible story. For example, our soaking salts and sugar scrubs are hand-blended by young, at-risk mothers in Chicago, Illinois. Through a paid transitional job training program, they learn the essential vocational skills needed to support themselves and their babies. Our PURPOSEfull TOTES are hand-sewn by women in rural Bangladeshi communities who have had limited educational opportunities and are edged out of most local job opportunities. Our pom pom and tassel keychains are handmade by women in Mexico preserving time-honored cultural traditions. Your support makes a meaningful difference in the lives of so many people: not just the artisans and entrepreneurs, but their families and communities as well.

(SS): The soaking salts and Purposefull totes were in our Winter Box! We love our sisters in Chicago and Bangladesh, and learning more about the incredible opportunities they will have, to follow their passions! Thank you Hannah for taking time out of your day to share the incredible journey The Little Market is on, to help provide equal opportunities for income and employment to women around the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

(TLM): We are so grateful for our community’s support — from friends and family to shoppers and wholesale partners, like Sisterhood Shopping. Thank you for supporting fair trade and empowering women everywhere.

The Little Market is not just an amazing partner, but their site is full of beautiful and meaningful items and designed in a way only two designers could create! They always have new products and partnerships in the works, so visit The Little Market for exciting announcements coming soon!

Paola Berisso