The Importance of Fair Trade

Orsola de Castro QuoteHandwriting by Marisa Mangum

The Little Market is proud to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation. We work with artisan groups that implement fair trade practices in every step of their process. Each product carried at The Little Market is made following ethical labor and sourcing standards. As we celebrate Fair Trade Month, we want to highlight the value of fair trade not only to the experiences of artisans, but also of consumers.

There is power behind each of our purchases. As consumers, we are regularly faced with a multitude of product, value, and vendor choices. We usually make decisions based on the texture, color, taste, and other physical characteristics of the product right in front of us.

Fabrics {The Little Market}Photo by The Little Market

But what about the people who made that product? Who are they? What is their story? What are the effects of the production cycle on the lives of those who make it? Are the effects positive or negative? Every time we make a purchase, we are making the decisions around the conditions of the person who made the item.

National bestselling author and public speaker Anna Lappé is an advocate for sustainability in the food chain. Lappé once said, “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” We hold this quote close to our passion and our mission at The Little Market as we ensure that the products we carry are made with sustainability in mind. Fair trade purchases affirm a commitment to equality, social justice, and human rights.

Mexico Visit {The Little Market}Photo by The Little Market

At its core, Fair Trade is a social movement focused on monitoring and promoting inclusive practices, safe working conditions, fair pay, and no child labor. Fair trade promotes production cycles that respect the dignity, humanity, and identity of workers, as well as the well-being of the environment. Ethical production under the Fair Trade Principles entails transparency; this creates an opportunity for consumers to understand where and how their products are made.

Over the past few years, we have nurtured strong relationships with various artisans groups around the world. Our goal has been, and continues to be, the creation of sustainable employment opportunities for marginalized artisans, particularly women. We are committed to ethically sourcing the products we carry and to sharing the story behind each product. We select partners with a demonstrated commitment to the well-being of the artisans they work with. By choosing to make a fair trade purchase, you are choosing to support fair compensation, safe working conditions, and other opportunities for marginalized artisans, particularly women.

If women were empowered to participate equally in the global economy, they could add up to $28 trillion in GDP growth by 2025, according to a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report. When women are empowered and have access to dignified work, they reinvest the money into their families and communities. Empowering women is a key part of fair trade and economic and social growth. 

Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla in Guatemala {The Little Market}Photo by The Little Market

We invite you join us in the effort to be reflective about our purchases. Through the Fair Trade model, artisans and producers are guaranteed safe working conditions and dignified opportunities. Fair trade matters because it empowers us as consumers to ask important questions about products, so that we may each make informed decisions and purchases. So long as the information about the products we consume is available, making thoughtful decisions is possible.

Fair Trade Federation
McKinsey & Company

This article was originally published on Oct. 23, 2017 and updated on July 10, 2019.

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