October 24 marks five years since The Little Market launched with a mission of supporting dignified job opportunities for artisans in need all over the world. We are so grateful to each and every one of you for your support!
The Little Market is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization carrying fair trade, ethically sourced goods handmade by 69 artisan groups in 28 countries around the world.
Our co-founders, Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla, became friends, travel buddies, and then business partners after meeting at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Southern California. In 2012, Lauren and Hannah traveled to Africa together to meet with nonprofits supporting women and children. The inspiring women they met expressed how much they wanted to earn a sustainable income to be able to support their families and send their children to school to further their educational opportunities.
Led by the responsibility to help others and left wanting to do more to support women around the world, Lauren and Hannah decided to create a sustainable online platform for artisans to showcase their handmade goods without a geographical limit. After traveling back home to Southern California, Lauren and Hannah met with experts in international development and fair trade and combined their backgrounds in human rights, design, and marketing to create The Little Market.
In October 2013, The Little Market carried products made by five artisan groups in eight countries. Five years later, The Little Market is now carrying products made by 69 artisan groups in 28 countries! Over the past five years, The Little Market has ethically purchased 122,876 units of product, generating 478,983 hours of dignified work.1 The more products we sell, the more lives we can touch. We are always looking to expand our reach and grow our collection!
We identify and partner with artisan groups that empower women because we recognize that investing in women leads to positive intergenerational outcomes. We also believe in our responsibility to educate our community on human rights, gender inequality, and social justice issues that communities face around the world. The artisans we work with a part of marginalized communities; they include young, at-risk mothers, women who have escaped homelessness, female refugees, ethnic minorities, and survivors of trafficking and domestic violence.
Every product at The Little Market has a story, a person, and beautiful cultural traditions behind it. As we continue to grow, we utilize our platforms, from our site and blog to social media to our new storefront, to raise awareness and tell these stories.
This year, we’ve introduced products from fourteen new artisan groups2 and expanded upon our existing partnerships.
In April, we introduced a new collection of tote bags hand-woven by artisans using natural grasses in Madagascar. These bags feature a variety of patterns and prints designed by The Little Market, including pom poms, fringe detail, flowers, and classic prints. Many of the artisans have multiple children and no formal education; by working together, they are able to earn fair wages, preserve their skills, and access skill development opportunities.
In June, we introduced new hand-woven baskets from Kenya. The female artisans handcraft every basket using locally sourced, natural grasses. They are able to collaborate in units and empower one another in the community. We’re so excited to have designed these baskets and worked so closely with the artisans as they earn fair wages preserve a weaving tradition.
We also grew in our existing partnerships this year. We added new PURPOSEfull TOTES, which are among our best sellers and are handmade by female artisans in Bangladesh. The women who help to create these bags are illiterate and live in rural communities. We expanded upon our collection of candle scents, kantha quilts, and jewelry as well.
One of the biggest milestones for us was our first storefront opening last month in the Palisades Village. We’re so excited to have a brick-and-mortar location to showcase these unique pieces in person and have a space where shoppers can touch and feel the details.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, we’d love for you to stop by and visit!
We’re extremely grateful for our community here at The Little Market. Our work would not be possible without your support.
To the artisan groups we work with, thank you for your incredible mission and for your partnership. We admire the artisans we work with and their resilience and skills.
To our customers, thank you for your commitment to our mission and supporting fair trade goods. With every purchase you make, you are supporting talented artisans, fair wages, and the preservation of cultural traditions. We couldn’t do any of this without you!
To our families, friends, and mentors, thank you for your advice, support, and love in every step of the way.
Thank you all for coming along with us on this journey and supporting The Little Market’s mission. We have had an incredible five years and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Photos by The Little Market
1 This figure was calculated with the aid of a proxy and using data collected between 2013-2018 from each artisan group specific to its technique and production time.
2 This figure was calculated according to the fiscal year from June 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.