SHE Spotlight: Hannah Skvarla of The Little Market
If you own a conscious-driven business or want to start one, PurposeXProfit: Conscious Capitalism Los Angeles Chapter Conference on December 6 is for you! It includes so many of our favorite "conscious companies" looking to make a difference in the world, including Cafe Gratitude, Soul Pancake, and Thrive Market! The theme this year is the power of story telling, so it makes perfect sense that The Little Market's Hannah Skvarla will be speaking! She founded the online fair trade boutique with her friend Lauren Conard and is bringing the stories and impact of fair trade to a mass audience! The Little Market's mission is to empower women and artisans around the world, so we were absolutely delighted to talk all things fair trade / artisan-made with Hannah!
(And if you want to join us at PurposeXProfit, use the code PXPPARTNER for 25% off your ticket! We don't get anything from your purchase, we're just excited to support this amazing event! There are a few tickets left, so grab yours today and get inspired!)
SHE Team: The Little Market a member of the Fair Trade Federation! It seems too simple to be true…but how does purchasing fair trade support human rights and empower women around the world?
Hannah: Practicing fair trade principles leads to meaningful change for artisans and their communities. We work with artisan groups to support employment and skill development opportunities for marginalized and under-served women. When considering fair trade principles and shopping with purpose, I really love the quote by Anna Lappé that says, “Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
“Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
With each purchase, a vote is cast. When you choose to purchase items that are fair trade and ethically made, you are valuing the well-being and story of the individual behind a product. As conscious shoppers, we can make a positive impact through fair trade, ethically sourced goods and show respect for human rights.
SHE Team: We love your passion for artisan employment and how you are using it to protect such beautiful ancient cultural heritages. What’s something you wish more people knew about true artisan employment?
Hannah: Employing artisans while practicing fair trade principles is incredibly powerful, which is why we ensure that The Little Market works with artisan groups that are committed to fair trade practices and creating opportunities for marginalized and disadvantaged producers. We do not directly employ artisans; we carry products from artisan groups of various structures and scales across the globe that share like-minded missions and ensure they are paid by The Little Market in full, regardless of whether or not a product sells.
We often hear of concrete examples that show the meaningful impact behind thoughtful, conscious shopping. For example, artisans’ children are given the opportunity to receive a higher quality of education, artisans can work from home and have flexible schedules, they are able to purchase healthier, more nutritious food and cleaner drinking water, they have access to job and financial skills development, and, overall, they are able to take better care of their families. We are inspired by every artisan group and are motivated to work harder on their behalf.
SHE Team: You’re competing with mass market bargain prices. How does story telling explain your pricing structure to someone who’s breaking the addiction to cheap impulse buys? What would our community be able to tell their friends?
Hannah: Through our storytelling platforms, we are able to convey the meaning behind fair trade and ethically sourced products. Every product we carry is incredibly unique, and we recognize our responsibility to tell the story behind each product. We explain the artisan groups’ inspiring stories, the materials, from elephant grass to bamboo to pure cotton, the cultural technique that is preserved, and the fair trade principles practiced. These details make each product special, and we choose to celebrate and honor the uniqueness and the stories. Leah Jenner has a great quote, which is, “There is a direct connection between treating things you buy as disposable and treating the people who made those things as disposable.”
“There is a direct connection between treating things you buy as disposable and treating the people who made those things as disposable.”
SHE Team: You are able to see socially-conscious business from the inside out. What are some key markers we all can look for in companies that are truly “doing it right” and not for marketing purposes?
Hannah: To ensure that companies are committed to “doing it right,” it’s important to look for fair trade markers, learn more about the company’s business practices, including where and by whom the product is made, understand the materials used in the making of the products, and search for transparent practices.
SHE Team: The products you offer are exquisite. Can you tell us more about the design and sourcing process? What does it mean if we see a product in the Little Market?
Hannah: Thank you! Our team works very hard to connect with artisan groups that are creating beautiful, handmade products. We carry products from 57 artisan groups in 28 countries.
The Little Market carries products from 57 artisan groups in 28 countries.
Interested artisan groups can apply on our website; we also find new artisan groups during our travels, receive recommendations in the fair trade community, or occasionally meet a group at a trade show. With some groups, we order their existing product offering. With others, we will give feedback on design, color, and size. And with other groups, we will create completely customized and exclusive products. In the spirit of fair trade, we do our best to promote and protect the cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers. We value traditional patterns and techniques, and our design development is sensitive to the geographic specificity and meaning.
If an item is carried at The Little Market, it means that the artisan group has completed and passed our artisan application that ensures the group follows fair trade practices. If a product is beautiful, but we aren’t satisfied with the responses to our application, then we will not carry the products.
SHE Team: What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands you use?
SHE Team: How can the SHE Community support your work? We will include this information at the end of the interview.
Hannah: We are extremely grateful for the support of The Little Market and the artisan groups we work with. We welcome organic sharing of our site, blog posts, social channels, and details about The Little Market’s mission and the stories of the artisan groups we work with.
Hannah Skvarla (left) co-founded The Little Market, an online fair trade shop, with her friend Lauren Conrad. The two met while studying at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) and quickly connected over a shared love of design, wanderlust and desire to empower women. Fast forward to today: The Little Market customers can purchase beautiful products handmade by artisans around the world. The company celebrates fair trade principles, and every purchase from The Little Market generates meaningful income for artisans and their families. The Little Market is a member of the Fair Trade Federation and the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise.