Jane Mosbacher Morris and To The Market: Helping Survivors of Abuse Achieve Economic Empowerment

Jane Mosbacher Morris has dedicated her career to tackling some of the world’s most complex social issues. From working in the U.S. Department of State’s Counterterrorism Office to serving on numerous advisory boards such as USA Cares, Women LEAD and Speak Your Silence, advising on difficult issues ranging from child sexual abuse to post-9/11 veteran support; it seems that no challenge is too intimidating for Morris.

Extreme poverty has been one of the most pressing global issues of this millennium and finding solutions that are culturally sensitive and empowering, rather than prescriptive and victimizing, is no easy task. Yet Morris has found a remedy with her business TO THE MARKET (TTM), a handmade goods company that connects local artisans in need of income, to customers desiring social impact goods.

Believing that one of the essential ingredients to poverty reduction is women’s empowerment and economic independence, Morris has connected with existing NGOs to identify female survivors of abuse, conflict and disease to hire as artisans. The survivor-made goods are then promoted through TO THE MARKET’s online store, pop-up shops, and retail partnerships. TO THE MARKET not only offers these victims vocational skills-training, but professional and mental health resources as well as a platform to share their stories. Five years since the company’s inception and thousands of women have become economically empowered with over thirty artisan cooperatives operating in twenty countries around the globe.

 

 

While Morris’ life-long commitment to helping the less fortunate is commendable, her ability to transform intention into action in order to cultivate lasting positive change is truly inspirational. By way of her own empowerment she started a company that can empower others; whether it be an individual victim of conflict, an ethical fashion consumer or an entire impoverished community. We caught up with this humanitarian to learn more about TO THE MARKET, her experience running her own business and her favorite ethical gifts for the holiday season.


Give​ ​me​ ​a​ ​brief​ ​background​ ​of​ ​​TO THE MARKET and​ ​how​ ​it​ ​came​ ​to​ ​be.

TO​ ​THE​ ​MARKET’s​ ​mission​ ​is​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​the​ ​incredible​ ​capacity​ ​and​ ​skills​ ​of​ ​the​ ​artisan industry​ ​with​ ​businesses​ ​and​ ​consumers​ ​seeking​ ​social​ ​impact​ ​products.​ This​ ​allows​ ​us​ ​to create​ ​and​ ​sustain​ ​jobs​​​ ​for​ ​vulnerable​ ​communities​ ​while​ ​delivering​ ​in-demand​ ​product​ ​that is​ ​ethically​ ​produced.​ ​We​ ​connect​ ​with​ ​a​ ​global​ ​network​ ​of​ ​ethical​ ​producers​ ​in​ ​over​ ​30 countries,​ ​helping​ ​them​ ​scale​ ​by​ ​facilitating​ ​sales​ ​to​ ​businesses​ ​and​ ​consumers,​ ​amplifying their​ ​stories​ ​and​ ​building​ ​their​ ​capacities.​ I​ ​launched​ ​TO​ ​THE​ ​MARKET​ ​after​ ​visiting​ ​two extraordinary​ ​social​ ​enterprises​ ​in​ ​Kolkata,​ ​India​ ​that​ ​were​ ​employing​ ​human​ ​trafficking survivors.​ There​ ​was​ ​something​ ​so​ ​different​ ​about​ ​the​ ​survivors​ ​being​ ​employed​ ​than​ ​the​ ​many beneficiaries​ ​of​ ​social​ ​services​ ​I​ ​had​ ​interacted​ ​with​ ​in​ ​my​ ​previous​ ​work.​ ​The​ ​pride​ ​and confidence​ ​in​ ​their​ ​spirit​ ​reflected​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​they​ ​recognized​ ​their​ ​self-worth.​ ​I​ ​attribute​ ​this confidence​ ​and​ ​peace​ ​to​ ​the​ ​dignity​ ​of​ ​work​ ​which​ ​is​ ​central​ ​to​ ​our​ ​mission.

 

 

What​ ​made​ ​you​ ​decide​ ​to​ ​sell​ ​ethically-sourced​ ​fashion?

I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​help​ ​vulnerable​ ​persons,​ ​sadly​ ​most​ ​of​ ​whom​ ​are​ ​women,​ achieve​ ​more​ ​economic independence​ ​and​ ​began​ ​exploring​ ​industries​ ​that​ ​could​ ​have​ ​a​ ​large-scale​ ​impact​ ​and​ ​thrive in​ ​the​ ​developing​ ​world.​ Simultaneously,​ ​I​ ​observed​ ​the​ ​consumer​ ​demand​ ​shift​ ​towards products​ ​that​ ​have​ ​strong​ ​storytelling​ ​elements​ ​and​ ​are​ ​ethically-sourced.​ ​I​ ​found​ ​that​ ​through ethically-sourced​ ​products​ ​I​ ​could​ ​increase​ ​sales​ ​for​ ​the​ ​communities​ ​with​ ​whom​ ​we​ ​partner. This​ ​enables​ ​the​ ​artisans​ ​to​ ​sustainably​ ​grow​ ​their​ ​businesses​ ​and​ ​economically​ ​empower themselves​ ​and​ ​their​ ​families.​ ​Recognizing​ ​the​ ​impact​ ​it​ ​could​ ​make​ ​and​ ​the​ ​market​ ​that​ ​exists for​ ​it,​ ​ethically-sourced​ ​fashion​ ​became​ ​a​ ​clear​ ​choice​ ​for​ ​creating​ ​meaningful​ ​change​ ​and providing​ ​beautiful​ ​products.

How​ ​does​ ​your​ ​business​ ​model​ ​cultivate​ ​empowerment​ ​from​ ​the​ ​bottom-up?

Our​ ​business​ ​model​ ​cultivates​ ​empowerment​ ​from​ ​the​ ​bottom-up​ ​because​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​get​ ​paid​ ​(as a​ ​business)​ ​unless​ ​we​ ​create​ ​economic​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​our​ ​partners​ ​on​ ​the​ ​ground.​ ​It​ ​truly​ ​is trickle​ ​up​ ​economics!​

 

 

When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​realize​ ​you​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​commit​ ​your​ ​career​ ​to​ ​improving​ ​the​ ​lives​ ​of the​ ​marginalized?

My​ ​parents​ ​were​ ​really​ ​wonderful​ ​in​ ​helping​ ​to​ ​model​ ​what​ ​a​ ​meaningful​ ​life​ ​looks​ ​like,​ ​and​ ​it’s centered​ ​around​ ​service​ ​to​ ​others.​ ​I​ ​specifically​ ​became​ ​passionate​ ​about​ ​empowering​ ​women in​ ​college when​ I​ ​came​ ​to​ ​better​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​number​ ​of​ ​women​ ​and​ ​girls​ ​with​ ​hearts​, ​and minds​, ​like​ ​mine​, ​that​ ​didn’t​ ​have​ ​the​ ​same​ ​opportunities​ ​to​ ​pursue​ ​their​ ​dreams.

How​ ​has​ ​your​ ​previous​ ​work​ ​experience​ ​translated​ ​to​ ​what​ ​you​ ​do​ ​at​ ​​TO THE MARKET?

My​ ​first​ ​job​ ​was​ ​working​ ​on​ ​counterterrorism​ ​at​ ​the​ ​U.S.​ ​Department​ ​of​ ​State.​ This​ ​exposed​ ​me to​ ​the​ ​populations,​ ​mostly​ ​composed​ ​of​ ​women,​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world​ ​that​ ​lacked​ ​control​ ​of​ ​basic decisions​ ​within​ ​their​ ​own​ ​lives.​ Through​ ​this​ ​experience,​ ​I​ ​began​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​importance of​ ​economic​ ​independence​ ​and​ ​opportunity​ ​in​ ​having​ ​agency​ ​over​ ​one’s​ ​own​ ​life.​ ​This understanding​ ​was​ ​solidified​ ​during​ ​my​ ​time​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Secretary’s​ ​Office​ ​for​ ​Global​ ​Women’s Issues,​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Columbia​ ​Business​ ​School​ ​and​ ​at​ ​the​ ​McCain​ ​Institute​ ​for​ ​International Leadership.​ ​Each​ ​position​ ​I’ve​ ​had​ ​has​ ​pushed​ ​me​ ​out​ ​of​ ​my​ ​comfort​ ​zone,​ ​forced​ ​me​ ​to​ ​learn on​ ​the​ ​job,​ ​and​ ​contributed​ ​bits​ ​and​ ​pieces​ ​to​ ​the​ ​way​ ​that​ ​I​ ​operate​ ​at​ ​TO​ ​THE​ ​MARKET.

 

 

What​ ​have​ ​been​ ​some​ ​of​ ​your​ ​greatest​ ​challenges​ ​in​ ​running​ ​your​ ​own​ ​business and​ ​how​ ​did ​you​ ​overcome​ ​them?

Since​ ​TO​ ​THE​ ​MARKET​ ​has​ ​artisan​ ​partners​ ​and​ ​ethical​ ​producers​ ​that​ ​are​ ​mainly​ ​based​ ​in developing​ ​countries,​ ​we​ ​often​ ​face​ ​dynamics​ ​that​ ​are​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​our​ ​control.​ ​For​ ​example,​ ​we have​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​partners​ ​in​ ​Haiti​ ​that​ ​are​ ​producing​ ​for​ ​us​ ​currently.​ ​When​ ​Hurricane​ ​Matthew hit​ ​in​ ​Fall​ ​2016,​ ​we​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​first​ ​check​ ​on​ ​the​ ​safety​ ​and​ ​well-being​ ​of​ ​our​ ​partners.​ We​ ​then moved​ ​on​ ​to​ ​exploring​ ​how​ ​production​ ​and​ ​shipping​ ​would​ ​be​ ​impacted,​ ​if​ ​at​ ​all.​ We​ ​work​ ​to overcome​ ​these​ ​challenging​ ​operational​ ​dynamics​ ​by​ ​putting​ ​the​ ​wellbeing​ ​of​ ​our​ ​partners​ ​first and​ ​then​ ​over-communicating​ ​to​ ​our​ ​clients​ ​about​ ​how​ ​what​ ​we​ ​have​ ​promised​ ​them​ ​may​ ​or may​ ​not​ ​be​ ​impacted.

What​ ​has​ ​been​ ​one​ ​of​ ​your​ ​most​ ​rewarding​ ​experiences​ ​since​ ​starting​ ​​TO THE MARKET?

The​ ​biggest​ ​highlight​ ​for​ ​me​ ​has​ ​been​ ​watching​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​partners​ ​significantly​ ​scale​ ​while working​ ​with​ ​us.​ ​Every​ ​time​ ​we​ ​bring​ ​a​ ​purchase​ ​order​ ​to​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​partners​ ​it​ ​is​ ​a​ ​rewarding experience,​ ​knowing​ ​that​ ​we​ ​are​ ​creating​ ​more​ ​opportunity​ ​for​ ​vulnerable​ ​populations​ ​and helping​ ​to​ ​change​ ​lives.

 

 

What​ ​does​ ​a​ ​typical​ ​work​ ​day​ ​entail​ ​for​ ​you?

The​ ​one​ ​constant​ ​of​ ​my​ ​day​ ​is​ ​a​ ​healthy​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​caffeine,​ ​but​ ​that’s​ ​about​ ​the​ ​extent​ ​of​ ​my daily​ ​ritual​ ​as​ ​when​ ​you​ ​are​ ​running​ ​a​ ​startup​ ​you​ ​wear​ ​many​ ​hats.​ ​My​ ​day​ ​can​ ​consist​ ​of anything​ ​from​ ​meeting​ ​with​ ​a​ ​director​ ​of​ ​corporate​ ​social​ ​responsibility​ ​at​ ​a​ ​Fortune​ ​500 company​ ​to​ ​editing​ ​a​ ​blog​ ​post.​ ​Everything​ ​I​ ​do​ ​is​ ​24/7,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​exception​ ​of​ ​sleep,​ ​but​ ​it’s​ ​wildly rewarding!

What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​do​ ​to​ ​stay​ ​balanced?

My​ ​balance​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​my​ ​wonderful​ ​support​ ​system. I​ ​have​ ​an​ ​incredible​ ​network​ ​of​ ​friends and​ ​family​ ​that​ ​I​ ​love​ ​spending​ ​time​ ​with​ ​and​ ​the​ ​TO​ ​THE​ ​MARKET​ ​team​ ​is​ ​a​ ​blast! Other activities​ ​that​ ​help​ ​keep​ ​me​ ​sane​ ​include​ ​nightly​ ​devotionals, ​listening​ ​to​ ​music,​ ​and​ ​adding dreamy​ ​hotels​ ​to​ ​my​ ​bucket​ ​list.

 

 

You​ ​have​ ​served​ ​on​ ​many​ ​advisory​ ​boards​ ​and​ ​seem​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​wisdom, but who​ ​has​ ​been​ ​your​ ​biggest​ ​mentor?

Working​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Secretary’s​ ​Office​ ​of​ ​Global​ ​Women’s​ ​Issues,​ ​my​ ​boss,​ ​Ambassador​ ​Melanne Verveer,​ ​taught​ ​me​ ​about​ ​how​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​presence​ ​in​ ​the​ ​public​ ​sphere​ ​but​ ​also​ ​care deeply​ ​and​ ​genuinely​ ​about​ ​your​ ​team​ ​and​ ​their​ ​respective​ ​careers.​ ​At​ ​the​ ​McCain​ ​Institute​ ​I was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​shadow​ ​Cindy​ ​McCain​ ​and​ ​understand​ ​how​ ​she​ ​managed​ ​all​ ​of​ ​the​ ​overwhelming demands​ ​on​ ​her​ ​time.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​really​ ​interesting​ ​to​ ​see​ ​how​ ​she​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​juggle​ ​so​ ​many competing​ ​interests​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​get​ ​her​ ​involved​ ​in​ ​different​ ​humanitarian​ ​initiatives.

What TO THE MARKET products​ ​are​ ​you​ ​most​ ​excited​ ​about​ ​for​ ​the​ ​holiday​ ​season?

Ethical​ ​Leather​ ​Tote​ ​In​ ​Caramel​ ​And​ ​Black
Our​ ​*Limited​ ​Edition*​ Leather​ ​Tote​ ​was​ ​born​ ​out​ ​of a​ ​search​ ​for​ ​a​ ​beautifully​ ​constructed, ethically​-​made​ ​every day​ ​tote. We​ ​knew​ ​we​ ​wanted​ ​a​ ​bag​ ​that​ ​would​ ​match​ ​almost​ ​anything​ ​and​ ​could​ ​be​ ​dressed​ ​up​ ​or​ ​down. Opting​ ​for​ ​two-tone​ ​leather,​ ​we​ ​partnered​ ​with​ ​our​ ​friends​ ​at​ ​the​ ​Haiti​ ​Design​ ​Co-op​ ​to​ ​create​ ​a limited edition piece​ ​that​ ​fits​ ​all​ ​of​ ​our​ ​goodies,​ ​from​ ​our​ ​laptop​ ​to​ ​make-up​ ​bag.​ ​Haiti​ ​Design Co-op​ ​works​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​consistent​ ​employment​ ​in-house​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​give​ ​job​ ​training​ ​and​ ​stability​ ​to individuals​ ​in​ ​vulnerable​ ​situations,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​raise​ ​up​ ​artisan​ ​leaders​ ​to​ ​succeed​ ​as​ ​independent entrepreneurs​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community.​ ​

Ethical​ ​Midi​ ​Crossbody​ ​Bag​
Our​ ​ethical​ ​tote’s​ ​fun​ ​sister!​ ​We​ ​partnered​ ​with​ ​Haiti​ ​Design​ ​Co-op​ ​to​ ​create​ ​this​ ​sophisticated​, ​black, goat​-leather​ ​bag​ ​fits​ ​all​ ​of​ ​your​ ​essentials​ ​for​ ​a​ ​day​ ​out​ ​on​ ​the​ ​town.​ ​Perfect​ ​to​ ​pair​ ​with​ ​any​ ​polished or​ ​more​ ​casual​ ​outfit.​ ​Snap​ ​closure​ ​ensures​ ​safekeeping​ ​of​ ​your​ ​essentials.​ ​

 

 

Evaline​ ​Necklace​
This​ ​necklace​ ​is​ ​handcrafted​ ​by​ ​women​ ​in​ ​Uganda​ ​and​ ​in​ ​Dallas​ ​by​ ​TTM​ ​local​ ​partner​ ​Akola.​ ​Akola empower​s ​these​ ​women​ ​to​ ​transform​ ​their​ ​families​ ​and​ ​communities,​ ​providing ​them​ ​with​ ​the​ ​income to​ ​care​ ​for​ ​their​ ​families​ ​basic​ ​needs. Hand-carved​ ​bone​ ​beads,​ ​matte​ ​lapis​ ​beads,​ ​pyrite​ ​beads​ ​with​ ​an​ ​ethically​ ​sourced​ ​horn​ ​pendant and​ ​a​ ​100%​ ​genuine​ ​leather​ ​tassel.​ ​

Bi-Fold​ ​Wallet​ ​-​ ​Eco​ ​Camel​
This​ ​full​ ​grain​ ​eco-leather​ ​wallet​ ​is​ ​made​ ​of​ ​leather​ ​tanned​ ​without​ ​heavy​ ​chemical​ ​use, providing​ ​a​ ​safe​ ​environment​ ​for​ ​artisans.​ TTM​ ​local​ ​partner​ ​Elevate, ​helps​ ​to​ ​create​ ​financial sustainability​ ​for​ ​vulnerable​ ​artisans​ ​in​ ​India.

Jasmine​ ​Soy​ ​Wax​ ​Candle​
Made​ ​with​ ​US-sourced, ​non-GMO​ ​soy​ ​wax​, ​paired​ ​with​ ​lead​-​free​ ​wicks​ ​and​ ​a​ ​proprietary​ ​blend​ ​of fragrance​ ​and​ ​natural​ ​essential​ ​oils​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​you​ ​with​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​quality​ ​product.​ ​White​ ​Field​ ​Farm, a​ ​TTM​ ​local​ ​partner,​ ​brings​ ​healing​ ​to​ ​women​ ​​​survivors​ ​of​ ​human​ ​trafficking​ ​through​ ​job​ ​training​ ​and employment. Scent​ ​description​: ​​an​ ​exotic​ ​blend​ ​of​ ​freshly​ ​cut​ ​jasmine​ ​flowers​ ​with​ ​a​ ​base​ ​note​ ​of​ ​rose​ ​petals.​ ​

 

 

Bubu​ ​&​ ​Lulu​ ​Mix​ ​and​ ​Match​ ​Wooden​ ​Block​ ​Set​ ​
Bubu​ ​&​ ​Lulu​ ​Mix-and-Match​ ​set​ ​are​ ​handmade​ ​Wooden​ ​Block​ ​sets​ ​produced​ ​by​ ​disabled​ ​refugees​ ​in Jordan.​ ​Each​ ​block​ ​is​ ​a​ ​cubic​ ​block​ ​with​ ​6​ ​sides.​ ​Each​ ​side​ ​contains​ ​part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​cute​ ​illustration​ ​for kids​ ​to​ ​mix​ ​and​ ​match.

Maria​ ​Bracelet​ ​Ebony​
The​ ​Maria​ ​Bracelet​ ​is​ ​fun,​ ​fabulous​ ​and​ ​sure​ ​to​ ​make​ ​your​ ​wrist​ ​shine!​ ​This​ ​bracelet​ ​is​ made with gemstones and recycled bullets by women​ ​overcoming​ ​injustice​ ​in​ ​Charlotte,​ ​NC​.

For 20% off the Midi Bag and linens, use promo code ELECTRIFY20 before December 31, 2017. 

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