Jane Mosbacher Morris is a force to be reckoned with. For several years she worked at the U.S. State Department, focusing on the intersection of women and security through the lens of counterterrorism.
This type of an experience can only breed revolutionary thinking.
Almost immediately she found that there are so many overlaps between issues of national security and issues of human security (things like domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking).
She told us that women are disproportionally impacted by many of these human security issues, and that’s why she began to study what was being done to empower women affected by these challenges.
Jane continued to come back to one answer: economic empowerment.
And with that answer, TO THE MARKET was born.
Jane is the CEO of the socially-inspired business TO THE MARKET, which offers survivor-made goods crafted by artisans who have lived through abuse, conflict, and disease.
To learn more about TO THE MARKET and how you can impact the world in so many more ways than one with your present buying this year, keep reading.
Changing Lives with Our Holiday Shopping List, by Jane Mosbacher Morris
We’ve all been there-we look at our holiday shopping list and consider how we will tackle it, afford it, or stomach it! We are preparing to spend more on gifting than we do the rest of the year combined, and retailers are counting on it.
When we make up our shopping list, we are drawing up a mini-purchase order. We think about our friends and family and try to come up with clever, useful, or beautiful gifts that we believe will compliment their personality and personal story. And yet, we often don’t think of the story of that item before it appeared on the store shelf or showed up online. Each product has a narrative of its own: a composition, a maker, and an origin. If we take even a small percentage of our holiday purchasing power and source from groups that have an ethos of social impact, we can literally change lives.
Let’s start from the source. The lack of opportunity to become economically self-sufficient leaves many around the world (a majority of whom are women) trapped in a difficult and dangerous environment. Often times some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, like survivors of abuse, conflict, and disease, get stuck in exploitative dynamics because they are financially dependent on someone or something else out of their control. They desire a chance to regain their freedom through earning an income, which begins to allow them to re-make basic choices about their life (things we take for granted, like where we want to live, what we want to eat etc.). The dignity of work can come in many forms, but a powerful medium is artisan enterprise. A 32 billion dollar industry, it is estimated to be the second largest economy in the developing world.
At the same time, there is a growing demand by consumers for more transparency from companies – consumers want to know how the goods are made and by whom. More compellingly, buyers are increasingly asking, what kind of world is my dollar building?
TO THE MARKET finds itself at this happy intersection. We have partnered with a growing network of co-operatives from around the world that are exclusively employing survivors of abuse, conflict, or disease to produce both raw materials and finished products ranging from home goods to jewelry to shoes. With over 25 partners in over 20 countries, it’s getting easier and easier for us to connect a shopper or a business with a product they want, while having an impact on the ground.
When we look at the wide range of social good collections or brands like TO THE MARKET’s, and when we ponder the size of the retail industry, we can’t help but think about what would happen if consumers and businesses simply tweaked their sourcing decisions. Jobs could be created, educations afforded, and lives changed. So this holiday, when we are making our list and checking it twice, let’s also think twice about whether we could give a gift that provides joy to the recipient-and freedom to the maker.
Still searching for the perfect holiday gift for that impossible-to-shop-for person on your list? Why not head To the Market? Here are Jane’s ideas for the Five Gifts that Give Back. They don’t offer international shipping online, but they do it all the time for people if they email them their shopping list to Stylist@tothemarket.com.
1. For the Traditionalist: Cashmere Scarf in Ivory ($226 with promo code CoolMom).
These luxurious cashmere scarves are hand woven by master weavers in the Kashmir Valley, where the people have suffered many decades of conflict and unrest. Made with care and pride, each weaver embroiders their initials on the corner of the scarf.
2. For the Minimalist: Make-up Tote in Dusty Blue ($25)
Each bag is beautifully handwoven with love by the women of the Women’s Skill Development Organization of Nepal. Using the world’s oldest loom, the backstrap loom, each bag is carefully made from dye to weave to stitch. The women of the organization come from all walks of life whether it be estranged from their families, handicapped or abused. Having been in operation since 1975, they have changed forever the lives of thousands of women.
3. For the Globe-Trotter: Trinidad Tote in Black ($395)
Adorned with one of the most striking motifs used in collection, this bag takes a total of 72 hours of hand-embroidery. Female artisans in Punjab, Pakistan use silk threads on hand-woven khaddar fabric to bring this exquisite piece to life.
4. For the Fashionista: The Alexandra Necklace ($54.99)
This multi-strand antique gold, midnight blue and black crystal-cut bead necklace was made by Xiao Li, a young woman raised in an impoverished family in East Asia. With only enough money to educate one child, her parents chose her brother to attend school. When Xiao Li was only 17, her parents sent her into the streets, where she worked until she met volunteers from To the Market partner organization, Starfish Project.
5. For the Homebody: Table side Trivet ($25)
Craftswomen in Rwanda use timeless tradition to weave carefully dyed sisal fibers and sweet grass to make stunning one of a kind pieces rich in cultural meaning and purpose.
Disclaimer: The International Exchange believes in TO THE MARKET’s business model and in the positive impact they have on communities around the world. We do not profit from the sales of these products or the promotion of TO THE MARKET.