We founded The Little Market to advance human rights and the economic empowerment of people from underserved communities. The connection between human rights and economic empowerment is so clear — without the ability to earn an income and decide what to spend it on, people cannot access needed healthcare, further their education, or feed their families. Since we started in 2013, we’ve grown our community to over 65 artisan and producer groups, working in more than 25 countries and sovereign states.
But it isn’t enough for The Little Market to support dignified job opportunities for artisans and producers: our commitment to human rights means that we make sure that every artisan we work with makes their products in a safe and healthy environment. We work toward that goal in many different ways: we carefully vet all potential groups so that we understand their working and payment conditions, we provide flexibility, we honor traditional techniques, and we work hard to develop a robust way to measure the hours of dignified work that we provide. We reached a significant milestone of providing 1 million dignified hours of work in 2020.
And now we are proud to announce that The Little Market has reached another important goal. We have always hoped that The Little Market would be able to provide direct employment to underserved people in Southern California, where we are based. The opportunity to finally do this arrived in December of a year that challenged us more than we thought possible. Some of our most loved products, our sugar scrubs, were made by a social enterprise in Chicago, Illinois that works with single mothers. They let us know that for the safety of their staff during the pandemic, they were making production adjustments and would not be able to produce the sugar scrubs. (They would keep making the soaking salts we carry on our site and in our Pacific Palisades storefront.)
It felt like the right moment for The Little Market to put our vision into action. We have strong relationships with many nonprofits in Southern California and we were referred to the Survivors Network, a group associated with the anti-trafficking organization Cast (Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking). In December, our team trained five participants to produce the sugar scrubs, we worked out a safe delivery and collection mechanism, and today, we are proudly launching the first sugar scrubs made in-house by The Little Market’s new team.
This huge milestone was an incredible collaborative effort. Many members of our team were involved, from the initial steps of identifying potential groups and procuring the ingredients to facilitating the workshop and conducting ongoing training and check-ins to driving weekly routes to pick up and drop off supplies and products. As Senior Production Associate Jess Torres said, “Every interaction and engagement with the TLM team leaves me feeling skilled and capable.”
We are honored to have these resilient and inspiring individuals on our team. As Veronica, one of our new team members said, “Making this sugar scrub is more than just work, it is also therapeutic. It provides more than a paycheck, it also provides healing.” Now, with every purchase of our sugar scrubs, you are directly supporting this new program. Our hope is to grow our in-house job opportunities for more individuals in underserved communities locally. Thank you for your support.
Hannah Skvarla, CEO + Founder of The Little Market