Recognizing Fair Trade Month

As a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation, The Little Market sources from artisans groups in marginalized communities all around the world to offer handmade goods created while following fair trade principles. This October, we recognize Fair Trade Month to raise awareness for artisan communities in need of support in the global market. Keep reading to learn more about the fair trade movement and its impact. 

The History of Fair Trade

1946 The Pioneer of Fair Trade


Edna Ruth Byler was the pioneer of fair trade. It all started when she was in Puerto Rico visiting women who lived in extreme poverty and were creating textiles. Recognizing the talent and value of the women and their goods, Edna took the textiles to the United States. The profits Edna made from selling the Puerto Rican handmade goods went directly back to the women. 

Edna truly embodied what it means to invest in women from marginalized communities. She saw the value in women from rural communities with a talented craft and their need to thrive in the global market. 

1958 – The First American Fair Trade Shop

Edna opened the doors to a new concept of shopping that became one of the United States’ largest fair trade shops. 

1970s – 1980s – North American Alternative Trade Organization (NAATO)

Businesses organized together to address and advocate for marginalized farmworkers and other producers from marginalized regions in the Global South. This was to better the supply chain through fair trade concepts, whether it was for-profit or not-for-profit businesses. 

1989 – World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO)

A global organization with a mission to improve the conditions of disenfranchised groups in the global market. WTFO’s mission is to be campaigners and activists for the planet and global community of businesses (including farming, weaving, marching, lobbying, teaching, and trading). Through the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, WFTO established the conditions to ensure putting their mission into action. Since the establishment of the organization, there are over 330 Fair Trade Enterprises who are members. All verified members follow and uphold the principles. 

1994 – Fair Trade Federation (FTF) 

The North American Alternative Trade Organization was formally established into the Fair Trade Federation, a nonprofit and trade association that follows fair trade principles in the United States and Canada. As a member of the WFTO, FTF has set its own values reflecting the 10 principles. Their values are trade as a force for positive change, respectful partnerships, community, sustainable practices, fullest commitment, and consumer knowledge. FTF set the standards and conditions for fair trade certification through the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), established in 1997. 

2013 – The Little Market

Our co-founders Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla started The Little Market after meeting with nonprofits supporting women and children in Africa. They traveled through local markets filled with colorful and vibrant artisan-made goods, and they would visit nonprofits working with artisan women who needed a platform in the global market. Six years later, The Little Market is proud to ethically source from artisan groups across the world to support their incredible skills, communities, and work. 

We proudly follow all nine components of fair trade principles to support economically and socially marginalized artisans. 

Principle 1: Create Opportunities for Economically + Socially Marginalized Producers

Principle 2: Develop Transparent + Accountable Relationships

Principle 3: Build Capacity

Principle 4: Promote Fair Trade

Principle 5: Pay Fairly + Promptly

Principle 6: Support Safe + Empowering Working Conditions

Principle 7: Ensure the Rights of Children

Principle 8: Cultivate Environmental Stewardship 

Principle 9: Respecting Cultural Identity 

We are also grateful to see the incredible growth in conscious shoppers all over the world. Thank you for shopping fair trade and making a difference.

The stories of the artisan groups are truly inspiring. We encourage inclusiveness and are proud to work with such inspiring individuals. To learn more about fair trade principles, visit our website and stay tuned on our blog for the next part of our series on fair trade principles.

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