Happy Friday, friends! Finally, the workday is coming to an end and the weekend is within reach. HECK YEAH!
But before we happy-dance our way out of the office and to the closest bar, let me introduce you to the sweetest and most bad-ass boss-lady we know.
Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET (TTM), a socially-inspired business that’s economically empowering vulnerable communities through artisan enterprise.
Jane has always been about giving back. Before founding TTM, she had a long and fruitful career in the public and nonprofit sectors, where she worked on several anti-trafficking, women’s issues, and counter-terrorism initiatives. Jane has traveled, written, and spoken broadly on issues ranging from social enterprise to peace and security and in venues ranging from the Alt Summit to the Naval Special Warfare Command. Her written work has been published by platforms ranging from the National Defense University and The Houston Chronicle to Refinery 29 and the Huffington Post.
We had the absolute pleasure to speak with Jane about TTM and her passion for helping others. This is what she had to say:
For starters, can you give me your 30-second pitch for TTM?
TO THE MARKET economically empowers vulnerable communities through artisan enterprise. We specifically focus on survivors of conflict, abuse and disease, the majority of whom are women. We partner with artisan groups around the world to help sell their goods, tell their stories, and grow their businesses.
What motivated you to found TTM? What differentiates TTM from all the other initiatives you’ve been involved with over the years?
My motivation for founding TO THE MARKET stemmed from a number of experiences, not the least of which was close to seven years working in the government and not-for-profit world and being exposed to communities desperate for economic opportunity.
I devised TO THE MARKET’s specific business model after a trip to India I took while working for the McCain Institute. While in India, I had the opportunity to visit two social enterprises employing human trafficking survivors producing products (the co-ops were Sari Bari and Freeset). These cooperatives and their approaches of providing economic independence to survivors through the dignity of work inspired me to build on this model. I knew that there was a huge opportunity to align growing consumer demand for social impact products with the incredible capacity of these survivor artisans!
How do you choose which co-operatives TTM works with? Is there something in particular you look for?
We partner with artisan co-operatives that employ survivors of abuse, conflict and disease. We do this because we think that these communities often face particularly significant challenges to obtaining economic opportunity.
Tell me about the products. What kind of items does TTM sell?
TO THE MARKET’s products are handmade by survivors of abuse, conflict and disease from around the world. Our online marketplace has a wide range of jewelry, bags, home and paper goods perfect for many occasions and styles. A number of our products are also eco-friendly, from bags made from recycled saris to jewelry made of paper beads.
What’s the impact of TTM?
By serving as a platform for not only survivor-made goods, but also for the stories of the survivors themselves, TO THE MARKET has had the privilege of amplifying the voices of individuals who have often had their voices muffled.
We are also helping to promote economic independence for vulnerable communities while trying to address their wellbeing by offering things like basic mental health resources.
How much traffic does TTM get? How much has it grown since you started?
We’ve had the honor of sharing our story with tens of millions of people thanks to the press we’ve gotten in everything from The New York Times to Glamour.
In our first year (2015), we moved tens of thousands of products touched by survivor artisans. We are pretty pumped about that!
Do you have any tips for couples trying to share their special days with others in need? Any TTM products you want to recommend to them?
Yes! There are SO many ways to make a difference in the lives of others by applying some of your budget towards experiences, products, or services that give back! If you are planning on spending $20,000 on a wedding, just imagine if you spent even 10% of that on products that help change lives? You can have a BIG impact on your day!
Below are also some of our favorite wedding decorations and accessories!
This quintessential bridal necklace is handmade with white freshwater pearls by survivors of trafficking in Asia. It’s also a classic accessory for a bridal shower or rehearsal dinner.
This softcover notebook supports college scholarships for young women in developing countries and is the ideal size to jot down last minute wedding ideas! (Click here to learn more about Heartful.ly partner, Flora Stationary!)
This “something blue” clutch is entirely handmade by artisans in Nepal and allows you to have a modern take on an age-old tradition.
Know any wedding vendors that are doing great things to give back? Let us know in the comments and we might feature them next time!