Framebridge + To the Market Celebrate International Women's Day
As a female run business, supporting other creative women is especially important to us. So, for International Women’s Day we knew we wanted to do a little something special. Cue TO THE MARKET.
TTM is an online retailer that offers beautiful goods handcrafted by artisans who have survived everything from abuse to conflict and disease. They work with women around the world to create, inspire and empower. We were so moved by their work we decided to partner up for a special Women’s Day collaboration. Starting today, and for the rest of this week, for each Instagram Mini sold we will donate $5 to TTM. Added bonus? Your Instagram Mini will be sealed with special (and gorgeous) survivor-designed, ikat patterned kraft paper.
So start framing! And get to know our new friends at TO THE MARKET. Our conversation with TTM Founder and CEO, Jane Mosbacher Morris, below!
What is TO THE MARKET? TO THE MARKET is a socially-inspired business economically empowering vulnerable women through artisan enterprise. This includes helping to sell products made by survivors through multiple distribution channels (online, pop-up shops, and through other retailers); to amplify the stories of these artisans through storytelling; and to help scale the artisan co-operatives employing these women to create more jobs.
How did it come to be? It really started during a pivotal trip in Spring 2013 with Mrs. Cindy McCain. We traveled to India to learn more about the efforts to tackle human-trafficking with the McCain Institute and the International Justice Mission. In the red light district of Kolkata, I had the opportunity to visit two amazing social enterprises working with human-trafficking survivors. While we had visited numerous social benefit centers, there was something instantly different about the survivors who were being employed at these two organizations. I believe the dignity of work had instilled confidence and helped them recognize their self-worth. I launched TO THE MARKET to partner with organizations like the ones I first met in Kolkata.
"Everyone that has told me 'no' just makes me want to work harder."
What was the most challenging part of building the business? Believing in your vision when others may not. The amount of rejection that any entrepreneur faces is pretty extraordinary, but it makes you tough and determined. Everyone that has told me "no" just makes me want to work harder.
We can really relate to the storytelling component of your business. What role do stories play in your company? Storytelling is core to our mission. Whether we are sharing the story of the artisan behind a particular product, promoting the work of our partner organizations, or shining a light on the adverse challenges many women face around the world, storytelling gives these women a voice. TO THE MARKET offers a platform for survivors and their champions to share their stories with a new, larger audience of eyes, ears, and hearts including though our Stories and Huffington Post Blogs.
"If we can change her mother's life, we change that little girl's life."
Is there one story in particular that has really stuck with you? I consistently come back to a little girl I met in a red light district in Mumbai. Her mother is still living in that district, but is part of a jewelry making program I visited. I think of her all the time (she has been on my phone's background for over a year) because she reminds me for whom I am working. If we can change her mother's life, we change that little girl's life.
How do you stay on top of trends and sourcing merchandise with such a global business? We have one of our advisors, Shayna Kulik, provide trend forecasting. She is a Brooklyn-based designer and forecaster, so we are really fortunate to have her in our corner! She travels the world and has an eye on trends in many of the markets where we sell.
What role do survivors on the TTM team play outside of creating the merchandise? We have two survivors on our Advisory Board, which is really important. As they taught me in the State Department, "nothing about them without them".
"Nothing about them without them."
What's next for TO THE MARKET? What is your dream for the business? I want people (both consumers and retail buyers) to change the way they buy and source. Even if they put a tiny percentage of their dollar towards social impact products, the ripple effect on the ground would be huge.
How can our customers get involved? So much! Start by pledging to buy ethically (through TO THE MARKET, among others!) just 10% of the time. Train yourself to ask, how and by whom was this made? Customers can also get involved through a number of ways, such as requesting a pop-up shop, sharing our mission on social media, volunteering with us, or even custom sourcing through TTM – we can design custom, survivor-made goods for stores, businesses, non-profits, or friends.