This article was written by Jenna Karic, a marketing and communications intern at The Little Market. Jenna studies political economy and international development at Tulane University.
Here at The Little Market, we pride ourselves on reaching women across international borders, extending far into the Global South. But we also realize that there is still much progress to be made within domestic borders. As a Southern California-based nonprofit organization, it is important to recognize those who struggle only a few miles away from our (and some of your) front doors. In an effort to raise awareness of the difference we can make both near and far, there is an imperative need to highlight the work of women in Downtown Los Angeles, many of whom are among the nearly 58,000 people who are affected by chronic homelessness.1 This statistic includes more specific data to the women in the city of Los Angeles, which has seen an increase in homelessness of over 34,000 people.2
The Downtown Women’s Center (DWC) is a Los Angeles-based organization dedicated to alleviating the plight of poverty and homelessness on the streets of Skid Row. Alongside the programming and community action available to women at DWC is MADE by DWC.3 A social enterprise focused on helping women to escape the cycle of poverty and unemployment, MADE by DWC was founded by the Downtown Women’s Center.4
Only a drive away from The Little Market’s office space, The Downtown Women’s Center, and, more specifically, MADE by DWC was created with the explicit goal of addressing and reducing the number of women in the greater Los Angeles area facing chronic homelessness and poverty.5 As a partnering organization with The Little Market, MADE by DWC helps women to hone their vocational and communication skills through product design and development workshops.6 Once women feel comfortable and confident enough to discover their talents and further their production techniques, they are able to dip their toes into the world of manufacturing. MADE by DWC carries a plethora of unique gifts, but works with The Little Market to develop an individualized line of soaps.
Each batch of soap is made in small quantities to ensure the highest of quality for each bar that is sold in the marketplace. The women at MADE by DWC individually hand-pour all of the natural soaps, which are scented with a spread of essential oils.7 Along with the sweet smells of essential oils, every single bar of soap contains organic ingredients. These oftentimes include vitamin E, mango butter, and olive oil, among only few others to keep the product simplistic and healthy for your skin.8
Beyond the beautiful products that MADE by DWC provides us at The Little Market, we have the privilege to return the favor. Each purchase helps these women create a profile of individual workplace skills, access sustainable working conditions, and inch their way out of Skid Row and into a life of confidence and success. The income the women earn is a stepping stone on their journey to prosperity and renewed self-esteem.