A Labor of Love

This month at The Little Market, we were inspired by Labor Day to talk about how our collective efforts and purchases contribute to a meaningful impact for artisans and their families.

 

Job Opportunities

When we were creating The Little Market, we met with female artisans who were preserving their cultural traditions and skills while supporting their families. They are incredibly passionate about their work and have often faced hardships. We wanted to find a way to help create economic opportunities for hardworking artisans. Through The Little Market, our goal is to provide a space for artisans to showcase their artistic talents and entrepreneurial skills and share them with a larger audience while earning a fair wage for their work. We support sustainable income opportunities for artisans in disadvantaged populations and marginalized communities while sharing their beautiful handmade goods, celebrating their cultural traditions, and raising awareness for human rights and gender equality.

 

 

Furthermore, we work with artisan groups that practice fair trade principles. For example, artisans are able to work in safe and supportive environments, artisans are paid promptly and fairly for their work, environmentally friendly practices are prioritized, and artisans have access to beneficial resources including training, workshops, and healthcare. The Little Market is also a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation.  

Through our collective efforts to support hardworking artisans, we are helping to support their craft while they earn fair wages.

 

Families & Communities

We are proud to work with more than 60 artisan groups around the world. We have heard heartwarming stories from artisans about how support of their handcrafted goods can lead to positive impacts in their lives, for their families, and in their communities.

These are some of the ways our fair trade efforts create a positive impact in the lives of artisans:

 

 

We have had the chance to connect with many admirable female artisans and hear their stories.

Several of the artisan groups we work with often offer the flexibility to work from home, which means that artisans can earn fair wages while still attending to their family responsibilities. Aimée, an artisan at Razafindrabe Collections in Madagascar, said, “For me, family comes first and now I feel so blessed that I can take care of my family, my home, and even myself and work at the same time. Working from home also gives me a sense of being a little manager and gives me responsibilities because it teaches me self-discipline.”

When we support artisan-made goods, the artisans are able to send their children to school. Oftentimes, the children are the first generation to graduate from high school. Angelina Bizarro is an artisan at Maya Traditions, one of the organizations we work with in Guatemala, Angela said, “I am thankful first for the help and the work. They have impacted with the education of my children and made it possible for them to study.” 

And when women can earn a sustainable income that they and their families can depend on, the female artisans often feel empowered and use their voices to be involved in essential decisions in the community. Rinah Laingotiana, an artisan at Razafindrabe Collections, said, “I was jobless before working with Razafindrabe Collections. No one believed in my skills and they were always asking for certificates I did not have. I can say they were my miracle. I brought change and development in my life, not only in terms of finances, but my mentality has also changed. I feel stronger and empowered now. I feel accepted and I know I have something to offer and that something is of good value. I really gained new skills and learned new techniques from them. Now I teach other ladies in my village to grow our team.” 

We are so inspired by the talented artisans we are able to connect with as they work toward a brighter future for themselves and their families.

 

Cultural Traditions

Behind each of our products is a person who created it — and a story.  We aim to celebrate beautiful cultural techniques. These include basket weaving, wood carving, cocoa, coffee, and tea growing, knitting, textile weaving, papermaking, and sewing.

When working with artisan groups, we will order existing products without any changes, provide design insight, or collaborate to create custom products while always paying respect to cultural traditions. We value traditional patterns and techniques, and our design development is sensitive to the geographic specificity and meaning. We love to work with artisans to create products that celebrate their traditional techniques and infuse contemporary designs.

Each technique is unique and has a beautiful history of its own.

 

Photo Courtesy of Craft Boat

 

We work with artisans at Craft Boat in India as they preserve a beautiful papermaking technique that dates back to the 16th century. The artisans specialize in creating innovative products using paper made from recycled cotton fabrics. The patterns are inspired by traditional mudcloth designs, which are originally from Mali in West Africa. Our Product Development and Design Team has worked closely with Craft Boat to share designs and collaborate on custom-made gift wrap and journals.

 

Photo Courtesy of WomenCraft

 

In Tanzania, artisans at WomenCraft practice a specialized weaving and coiling technique that is unique to their communities. While using natural, locally harvested grasses, recycled grain sacks, and small weaving tools, they weave each grass coil into a series of rows. Each piece takes approximately two to seven days to complete.

We are proud to support talented artisans around the world and their beautiful techniques.

 

 

Thank you for supporting us in this Labor of Love. We couldn’t do it without you!

 

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