In October, several #WorldMoms attended the ONE Girls & Women AYA Summit at the Google Headquarters in Washington, DC. One of the many powerful panels we heard from was entitled Change Through Economic Opportunity, where both major fashion companies and small start-ups weighed in on how they impact the lives of women through economic empowerment. With the holiday season upon us, World Moms decided to share some of the ways we love to use our purchasing power to give back, and how you can too.
Sydney Price of Kate Spade NY spoke about the Kate Spade On Purpose line at the AYA Summit panel. Each piece in this collection is handcrafted in Rwanda creating sustainable economic opportunities for women and reshaping their community.
Jane Mosbacher Morris , founder of To the Market, also participated in the panel on Change Through Economic Opportunity at the AYA Summit. To The Market provides a marketplace for the beautiful handcrafted goods that give women survivors of war, disaster or abuse a chance to support themselves and their families.
World Moms Elizabeth Atalay and Nicole Melancon had the pleasure of visiting the FashionABLE factory in Ethiopia this past summer and we have all been writing about and wearing the gorgeous scarves made in Ethiopia for years. It was great to finally meet founder Barrett Ward at the AYA Summit this past fall where he participated on the panel as well. FashionABLE is now expanding operations to include products made in Kenya and a beautiful line of leather products, all while providing social service programs of health care, education in a trade, and assistance with child care for their artisans to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.
“Through your purchase, you are ABLE to provide opportunity, and a woman is ABLE to have a new choice.”-LiveFashionABLE
The Giving Keys provides jobs for those transitioning out of homelessness, giving them the opportunity to rebuild their lives. The necklaces & bracelets are super cool as is the message of the Giving Keys:
“When you get this Key, you must give it away at some point to a person you feel needs the message, then write us the story of why you gave it away. We employ those looking to transition out of homelessness.” -The Giving Keys
You can read Giving Keys stories of those who have given and received keys on their site.
Shop the ONE Campaign store Holiday Gift Guide for some fabulous items where you know everything is fair trade and ethically sourced. By doing so you support the ONE Campaign in it’s goal of eradicating extreme poverty.
Alex & Ani Bracelets
Alex & Ani Charity by design products are another of our favorites. A percentage o profits goes back to designated non-profits. Their products are made in the USA from recycled materials, and spread the message of positive energy! They have branched out from bangles to key chains, and candles, wine charms & more!
From South Africa, The Mielie bags employ women of the townships in South Africa.
Mielie Bag Made in South Africa
Our mission is to design and produce innovative, export-quality hand-crafted products using reclaimed materials – with the aim of creating employment and restoring dignity and financial independence to South Africans.- Mielie
The Anchal Project Mission merges design, business, and education to empower marginalized and exploited women living in India. Their scarves are gorgeous and the company was founded by two Rhode Island School of design Grads.
Anchal is an Indian word that means shelter, or refers to the edge of a woman’s Sari used to provide comfort and protection for loved ones.-Anchal Project
Kids Books from Little Pickle Press, a B Corporation, are some of our favorite books for kids!
Lollie Beads Bracelets are created from fair trade recycled glass beads made in Uganda. So they are not only gorgeous (the glass beads look and feel like sea glass) but they are good for the environment AND help support sustainable living in a developing country.
Tom’s keeps its designs fresh while still managing to provide shoes and glasses to those who need them. We love their One for One business model (and pledge to support it with as many shoes as we can get away with!)
1000 Shillings Ugandan Paper bead necklaces. The women artisans earn capital for their own small businesses by making limited-edition products for 1000 Shillings. Each product sold through 1000 Shillings helps a woman establish a small business, which enables her to support her family. They also aim to tell the in-depth story behind each artisan. The company works with six single mothers in the Namatala slum, Uganda.
A Gift As A Gesture:
Sometimes it is hard to find the perfect gift for someone who has every material thing they desire. Still you want to give something as a token of your appreciation to them and the below gifts are the perfect solution that everyone can feel good about.
Photo by Elizabeth Atalay
Heifer International :
“Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth. It all started with a cow. Moved by the plight of orphans and refugees of the Spanish Civil War as he ladled out meager rations of powdered milk, Dan West, an Indiana farmer, volunteer relief worker and Church of the Brethren member, grasped that the people needed “a cow, not a cup”—cows that could produce milk so families would not have to depend on temporary aid. From that simple idea, Heifer International was born.” – From the Heifer International Website
Save two lives, those of a mom and her newborn baby, with CleanBirth.org and the perfect holiday gift of Bags of Love and Miracles, a handmade bag with a beautiful full-sized honor card inside ($20) and 4 mothers in Laos will receive birthing supplies and safe birthing education.
Mom2Mom Africa is a Canadian Not-for-Profit Organization, established to help empower women and children through education. The benefits of education and global awareness apply to us all. Your gifts this season will help to buy books, school uniforms and school supplies for the Mom2Mom Africa students in Tanzania.
Wishing Happy Holidays to You All,
May You Give As Good As You Get!
Do you know other organizations or shops that belong on this list?
Jane Mosbacher Morris,
Founder of To the Market
What is To the Market and how did it get started?
TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods (TTM) combines the powers of commerce and storytelling to empower the world’s most courageous survivor populations. We’ve developed a three-pronged social enterprise model that we believe reflects the needs of organizations employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease to help ensure that these organizations can continue to provide steady work to the survivors.
Our goal is that the survivors in our network eventually achieve economic independence, meaning that they aren’t dependent on someone or something else.
Our model includes (1) promoting survivor-made goods via our multiple distribution channels, including pop-up shops, custom sourcing, retail partnerships, and our online marketplace; (2) offering a platform for survivors and their champions to share their stories through TTM’s Stories and Huffington Post blogs; and (3) providing tailored services, such as trend forecasting and basic mental health resources, to our partners to improve production and management.
I started TTM after a trip to Kolkata, India revealed a way to impact the most vulnerable survivor communities by offering them an opportunity to earn an income.
I saw the light in the eyes of the survivor turned artisans when they were given the chance to earn—they wanted the dignity of work. I began speaking to incredible people all over the globe (including in the U.S.) who had created social enterprises to employ different survivor populations, usually by employing them to produce handicrafts.
I heard really positive feedback about the model of employing survivors (and all of the incredible benefits to the self-esteem and trajectory of the survivor and his or her children). However, I also heard about the challenges of making this model work—TTM aims to help augment these challenges.
Who are the artisans at To the Market?
TTM identifies and teams up with existing organizations currently employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease. We call these organizations “local partners”. Local partners consist of non-profits and for-profit social enterprises that have already set up shop, hired, and trained survivors to produce products.
TTM focuses on certain types of survivor populations. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to; survivors of abuse, such as survivors of domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and human trafficking; survivors of conflict, such as war widows, refugees, or persons living in conflict/post-conflict states ; or survivors of disease, including populations living with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, or physical disabilities.
We have partners across the globe, including in the U.S., South America, Africa, and Asia.
Do you see a pattern in consumers’ behavior when it comes to shopping responsibly?
I think there is a desire to shop more responsibly, but it often comes down to what people can afford. I am really proud of the fact that our local partners make a variety of products at all different price points—on-trend bracelets for under twenty dollars to timeless cashmere scarves for several hundred dollars.
Can you share a personal story that you think best represents the mission of the online shop?
I recently spent nearly a month in Nepal and India visiting with many of our local partners. I was particularly reminded of how transformational economic independence can be to these survivors when I spent time with their children—their daughters, especially. Most of the survivors we work with are women. When the women achieve economic independence, their daughters are so much less likely to be exploited. We recently wrote about a shelter in New Delhi, India that employs HIV/AIDs infected and affected women. You can see the video about the shelter and read about it on our Stories blog here.
How did you get involved with this work?
I began my career in counterterrorism with a focus on the intersection of women and security. Much of my mission was to try to elevate the role of women in national security-related issues, but I consistently found that women with some form of economic independence had so much more leverage in their family, community, and country than those with none.
That (five year) experience got the wheels turning quickly about the importance of economic independence in empowering vulnerable populations. When I went to work for the McCain Institute on human trafficking, I really saw how vital it was for survivors of some sort of trauma (whether it be abuse, conflict, or disease) to have access to some income.
It brings me extraordinary joy to be a part of the life-changing process of gaining even the slightest bit of independence.
What are your favorite picks for this holiday season?
- For Mom: I love this 100% cashmere scarf hand spun by master spinners in the Kashmir Valley! Each scarf contains the women’s initials that made it.
- For Dad: I love this red spice and merlot trivet. It’s the perfect size for cuff links, receipts, or coins and is neutral enough to sit comfortably on a nightstand or office desk. It’s hand-woven by craftswomen in Rwanda.
- For college kids: I have to suggest the patrice signature bag, which I am currently carrying by No41. It has two major points of impact!
- First, it provides a stable job and sustainable income to a young woman transitioning into a life of independence from living in an orphanage in Rwanda.
- SECOND (and perfect for the college student), it provides 240 meals to a secondary student in Rwanda!
- For kids: I love these brightly colored elephant ornaments (in pink or blue) hand-sewn by women in the Ivory Coast. Pink and blue patterns make it easy to pick for a boy or girl.
- For the office or book/dinner club gift exchange: I selected either a Sari Coin Purse hand-sewn by human trafficking survivors in Kolkata, India or this Hope Ornament pounded out of recycled metal oil drums in Haiti. Even if you don’t have a tree, you can hang this Hope sign up to encourage you! Both come in under $10, the perfect price point for small gifts.
- I am also including a couple “splurge on yourself “ items because I feel like most moms that I know only spend on others! I’ve included the Holiday Festive skirt, because it’s the perfect pattern for this time of year and also because it’s made by stay-at-home moms in Belize who are caring for sick children. Or, this Soledad Peru bag. The Suede straps and bottom make it strong enough to carry six wine bottles (yes, please!). The bag was made by women weavers in a valley deeply scarred by the Shining Path.
How can World Moms help spread the word about shopping responsibly this holiday season and beyond?
What a great question! Helping to get the word out about social enterprises like TO THE MARKET via social media and blogging is a tremendous help, in itself. Someone doesn’t have to have a huge following, either! Just telling your family or friends that these social enterprises exist makes a difference. So much of why so many social enterprises struggle is because they don’t have the marketing budget that big box retailers have to tell their story. There is nothing more flattering (or effective) than a personal referral!
This is an original interview with To the Market founder, Jane Mosbacher Morris, for World Moms Blog. You can learn more about the good work and great products To The Market sells by visiting their website (http://www.tothemarket.com/goods)
The image in this post is used by permission from To the Market.
My family and I have just returned home to the United States after living in Laos for the past two years. We’ve been back in the States for 1.5 weeks and the highlight of my day today was a successful trip to a clearance sale at the local used children’s clothing store here in Denver, Colorado.
For $200 U.S. dollars, I bought 50 pieces of clothing for my 4.5-year old boy and girl twins to last them (hopefully) for the next three years, when we will be living in Lesotho.
No, you’re not reading typos (WMB editors are awesome). Yes, that’s $200 for 50 pieces of clothes including: jeans, pants, shorts, collared shirts, t-shirts, cute shirts, dresses, skirts, leggings, pajamas, and swimwear, sizes 5 – 8. All are like new, and many top quality brands, which some of you might recognize: Gymboree, Hanna Andersson, Mini-Boden, Garnet Hill, Gap, Carter’s.
I’ve been shopping for used children’s clothing ever since my kids were born. Heck, they’ve been living mostly in hand-me-downs from relatives and friends and this store’s used clothing.
They’ve been happy. I’ve been happy. And we’ve all received compliments on their cute clothes. I really wouldn’t do it any other way.
Sure, I see loads of advertisements, storefronts and catalogs filled with great stuff I’d love to buy, and can afford to buy. But my practical sensibilities and appreciation of value for money mostly always stops me…
”They grow so fast.”
“It’ll just get dirty or torn up.”
“Hey, those are adult clothing prices!”
As they say, “Waste Not Want Not.” Or, “One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure.”
When I was living and working in Singapore as an investment banker, single, no kids, I was a spendthrift. Not a care in the world, except to ensure I saved for my pension.
I used to give my housekeeper handbags and shoes from the back of my closet that had gotten moldy in the extreme humidity, and she would always be delighted to receive these items that I thought were in state of trash-worthy grossness.
Weeks later, I would compliment her on her great purse or shoes and she would say, “These are the ones you gave me Ma’am.” Seriously. I felt like a fool. All I had to do was wipe them clean and put on a coat of leather polish. Silly, young, spendthrifty me.
Now I make sure our belongings are well cared for so they can last, or so they can be passed on and re-used. In Laos, used items purchased or made in America were highly coveted and sold fast. Everyone from our housekeeper, gardener, guard, colleagues at work and folks on a “buy & sell” Facebook site, gobbled up everything that wasn’t typically available locally or across the border in Thailand. Mostly because it was either cheaper, or better quality.
Consumer products sold throughout Asia tend to be of very low and questionable quality, and often not available at all in Laos.
Coming back to the land of plenty and choices, I still try to maintain the same mindset. Things can be valued for much more fundamental reasons than merely being new, or beyond the marketing image of “need” or status or image.
Sure, we can bring in the extreme perspective of the garbage dump cities all of the world where people and children actually live off of, and even earn a living from garbage. And our gut reaction is to think about how we can help them and change their situation, and feeling with a passion that something must be done about them, when in fact, it starts with us.
If we can change our habits and our mindsets, if we can demand less, if our values can put a limit on the things we accumulate versus things we re-use, then…
Who knows? Who knows what the solution is to uber-consumerism? Everyone all over the world seems to want it. Our demand for it makes it thrive. It’s not completely wrong, yet somehow it doesn’t seem right.
What does seem right to me is $200 for 50, and I’ll stick with it for as long as I can.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our mother of twins writer, Dee Harlow, currently in transit to live in Lesotho. You can also find her on her blog Wanderlustress.
Photo credit attributed to Mark Frauenfelder. This photo has a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike license.
As parents determined to raise global citizens, my husband and I were reticent to channel financial resources toward a Disney-vacation rather than taking our children abroad for enrichment. But, there is something that stirs inside both of us when it comes to celebrating the ephemeral days of childhood that made us reconsider.
Here in the US, a visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida or Disneyland in Anaheim, California is a childhood hallmark. In fact, I have met parents, who began planning their Disney vacation the moment they found out they were pregnant with their first child.
And even though a Disney family-vacation can cost upwards of several thousand dollars (with hotels, park tickets and flights), it doesn’t necessarily mean that parents will wait until their children are old enough to fully enjoy the experience nor, in some cases, are even old enough to remember it; tots, barely able to toddle, are a common site at Disney theme parks. (more…)
Since my son turned two, I have been getting questions about when another baby might be on the way. But the fact is that I have already have a second baby….my start up. And I’m just barely kidding. My business demands only marginally less time than a baby and gets talked about only a little less than baby number 1 on my Facebook page.
However, I will say that this first business of mine is, as my second child, benefiting from my experience with baby number 1. What I knew about starting a business could have fit on a postage stamp when I began. But I had at least a modestly sized pamphlet’s worth on being a mother.
I have been expanding both knowledge bases as my two babies have grown and I’ve noticed a substantial amount of cross over. Here are my five rules about running a business….or raising a baby…whichever. (more…)
I’m happy to be back after a long hiatus from World Moms Blog. I was taking a break from blogging but not from reading and loving all of the posts from our worldwide web of writers. I am happy to be back contributing to the blog and sharing some thoughts from my little corner of the universe!
As I’m writing my first post back, I’ve just finished wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts, and I’ve checked and re-checked my son’s letter to Santa to make sure we didn’t forget anything that can reasonably be gotten (a real-car sized Lightning McQueen is not something we’re investing in this year, Chase, sorry!).
For the past year or so I have been increasingly concerned about how “into” branded toys and things my nearly 4-year old son has become. (more…)