Every now and then I come across a business that truly inspires me by how they give back to the community. Whether through charitable donations or sending a percentage of proceeds to non-profit organizations, there are an array of companies now that are founded on philanthropic principles. One such business is The Little Market.
The Little Market is a charming online shop that works with artisan groups from around the world. In an effort to empower female artisans, help them rise above poverty and preserve their traditional craft, The Little Market created a marketplace to connect these women with customers. Sourcing all of the artisan’s handmade products ethically, The Little Market supports talented women from Bolivia, Nepal, Kenya, India, Senegal and more.
Admittedly, I had not discovered The Little Market until I came across their Instagram account and became absolutely smitten! Photos of colorful woven cloths from Guatemala, lovely pastel towels sourced from Ethiopia and adorable hand knit stuffed animals from Peru drew me to The Little Market like a moth to a flame. While I often peruse sites for unique gifts, I was thrilled to find a destination full of items with even lovelier back stories and benefits.
The founders behind The Little Market–Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skyvarla–were inspired by the many talented artisans they encountered on their travels around the world. Realizing that these skilled women were struggling to make ends meet, Lauren and Hannah decided to create The Little Market to give these artisans a larger costumer base. By spending time at local markets and getting to know the different cultures, the two have managed to not only turn their love of travel and design into a successful business but to also impact change in the lives of women globally.
While recently traveling in Nicaragua, I was introduced to a co-op of female artisans who hailed from various parts of the country to show off their handmade products. Those from the mountainous regions had created pine needle bowls (I now own three), those from the coastal towns crafted bags made of recycled plastic, while others had made naturally-derived soaps or jams. Each woman stood before us and proudly told us the story behind their work and what had inspired it; showing the time and patience needed to create each item. More amazing than their bowls and soaps though, were the women themselves.
These Nicaraguan women came from poor, rural villages where opportunity is limited and misogyny is rampant. The type of community where a woman’s role is relegated to house hold tasks and child rearing, where education often stops at the High School level (if not sooner). What each of these artisans have done is empower women by forging their own path, earning their own income and reshaping their communities to embrace the idea that women can offer more.
As I sat there filming, jotting down notes and snapping photos (ever the journalist), I realized in that moment how alive I felt. I felt at once privileged to be the mouth piece by which these woman and their stories would be shared; and frustrated that I wasn’t at the caliber of a New York Times reporter whose story could reach the world. I wanted everyone to know about these women, learn about their passion projects and how it was redefining what it meant to be a woman in their communities. I felt a sort of responsibility to capture their every move and expression, to leverage any following and readership I had built to share what they had created.
I’ve thought long and hard about the direction I want to take The Pin the Map Project next. I’ve known for some time that—while I love blogging—these stories deserve more than a 500 word, photo-heavy blog post that gets buried in RSS feeds. I want to bring these stories to life in a way that blogging sometimes fails to do; and so I’ve decided to launch Pin the Map magazine.
Because Pin the Map magazine is ultimately inspired by the locals I’ve met and their incredible–yet–unheard stories, I wanted to give back to that community. I am currently in the throes of trying to raise enough money to launch issues 2 & 3 of Pin the Map magazine and, because of my love of The Little Market, for every donation made on our GoFundMe page you’ll receive a bracelet to support female artisans worldwide.
To make a donation to the Pin the Map Magazine GoFundMe page and help us launch the next two issues, click here! In addition to supporting female artisans, you’ll also receive some GREAT rewards!