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These past few weeks we featured some of the great do-gooder companies we partner with! Hear about our new and exciting partnership with Ship Sunshine created by Anna Costello!

What inspired you to create Ship Sunshine?

When I moved to Colorado, there were many times I wanted to let friends back home know I was thinking of them but I wasn't quite sure what to send. I wanted to do something more than a card and more personal than flowers. My budget and time were limited and I just couldn't find many options. I wanted to be able to send the equivalent of a hug in a box - things that would make people smile and feel cheery. So, I built Ship Sunshine to do just that. My goal is to make it easy to brighten someone's day and celebrate the little and big things in life.

One of the reasons I wanted to start my own company was so I could insert my own values into it. Every Ship Sunshine box is hand-packed with eco-friendly materials, we donate proceeds from our boxes to a person, charity, or cause, we're collecting school supplies and toiletries for those in need, and we're totally open to more possibilities!

Why do you partner with Artisans Thrive?

I am truly inspired by Artisan Thrive's mission. I love that their approach is to help women entrepreneurs around the world hone in on their skills and expand their reach. Their model and training program is so well thought through and impactful to women artisans. 

 

Know someone that could use a smile? A brighter day is a click away! Visit www.shipsunshine.com and use promo code ARTISANSTHRIVE15 for 15% off any order!

A bit about you and how you started Pure Lee Photography

I've been a wedding and lifestyle photographer for the past 4 years. Photography has been a passion and a hobby my whole life, I never meant to make it a career but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Pure Lee Photography shooting our Spring/Summer 2018 photo-shoot!

RA bit about your mission and why it's important

After seeing the realities of sex trafficking in my own city of Denver Colorado and across the world in the Himalayas, it has stirred me into action. Sex Trafficking is our century's greatest injustice bringing in $150 billion a year worldwide. The wedding industry worldwide makes $300 billion a year. As a wedding photographer I want to use my skills and profession to make a difference for women trapped in this industry. I give back 10% from each of my wedding packages to a non-profit in Nepal that works with sex trafficking survivors.

Learning about the issue of sex trafficking opened my eyes to the harsh reality of human trafficking all around the world. Human trafficking takes it's form often in poorly run factories that manufacture clothing with hazardous unnatural materials, assembled and made by men and women who are working hours unfit for health and survival. After learning about this I pledged to be more conscious about the companies I support and to make sure that companies I photograph for or shop from are paying their workers fairly, creating good and healthy work environments and helping them to succeed in all areas of life. Artisans Thrive is exactly that! A company that supports their artisans and treats them as if they were family. 

Roseline Choker Necklace/ Wrap Bracelet photographed by Pure Lee Photography!

Mention this blog post and receive 20% off a shoot with Pure Lee Photography! Good until November 1, 2018.

This month marks the launch of our next training program, and we are  excited to share our plans with you! After our successful launch of two Artisans Thrive training programs in Guatemala, we are excited to be branching out to a new continent and work with another new organization. This February, we will be working in Western Africa in the country of Cameroon to  launch our third training program. Read More
 
Guest blogger and Executive Director of the Women's Global Empowerment Fund Karen Sugar shares about what we're celebrating and supporting mothers in Uganda.

This Mother’s Day remember moms around the globe who are working hard everyday to feed, educate and care for their children. WGEF provides women the tools and opportunities they need to create a brighter future for themselves and their families. 

Our program goal is poverty reduction, human security enhancement and women’s empowerment. We offer microcredit loans and social capital building programs to women in post conflict northern Uganda. 

Along with the small entrepreneurial loan, we focus on three areas: literacy, leadership development, health initiatives. Our clients are experiencing economic and social empowerment; women are learning to read, starting businesses, sending their children to school, eating more frequently, and advocating and participating in their communities, challenging entrenched patriarchy and inequality.

Our motivation is the possibility that very poor women can rise above poverty with dignity. We are working to transform the landscape, creating systemic change which will allow civil society to develop moving the entire community forward, enabling women to take care of themselves and their children, rebuild and recover their lives and communities. 

In honor of WGEF, we're featuring the Precious Bracelet which features inscriptions from WGEF mothers in Uganda and supports their work. Learn more here or below! 


Greetings! Since the launch of WPMarket, I have been asked several times about the inspiration for and justification of our model. Usually asked in-person, I’m able to enthusiastically explain our mission and its justification. I realize that many of you with whom myself or Dana have not had the opportunity to talk with in person may also be wondering, so I am writing to you to hopefully give you a deeper understanding of our model. (I am also always more than happy to explain it over the phone or in person, just reach out!)

The goal of WPMarket is not to reinvent the wheel when it comes to effectively reaching women and providing them valuable skills, business training, and/or microfinance. The reality is that there are plenty of organizations providing these benefits, as demonstrated by our partners.

We absolutely believe that this type of programming, when done in a sustainable and facilitative way, can be a catalyst in breaking the cycle of poverty. However, in working for many of these types of organizations and through our discussions with future partners, we see that local markets are often too saturated with products and international markets are often too difficult to reach without sufficient human and capital resources for logistics, marketing, and sales that our partners, who are all non-profits or cooperatives, often don’t have. The fact that they are also usually representing only one country and/or a certain number of products is also limiting. On the other hand, our goal is not to simply be a fair trade importer. While doing good work, there are also plenty of those, and we feel there is more we can do to support these types or organizations and the female artisans in a truly meaningful way.

With this thought process in mind, we developed our model to respond to the demand we see. By partnering with vetted organizations providing programming to female entrepreneurs, we are able to have a dual impact. First, we are able to provide income to the female artisans that our partners are working with by selling their products through our website and at local markets and events. This higher income enables the women to better provide necessities for herself and her family while also allowing them to work in a safe, collaborative, and flexible work environment that otherwise might not have been possible. We also see that women who have access to and control of economic resources tend to take on positions of leadership in their households and their communities. Second, by reinvesting a portion of the sales price (up to 20%) into our partner organizations, we are able to support them in continuing their valuable programs. In this way, both the artisans and the organizations benefit.

That said, by providing income to the women at fair prices and by reinvesting a large percentage into our partners, we aren’t left with an extremely profitable model. On one hand, that’s okay: we’re still able to cover our costs, and we are able to support our partners in a meaningful way that reflects our mission. (Dana and I weren’t thinking we could quit our day jobs anyway!). On the other hand, this limits the speed at which we can grow the number of partners we support, the number and types of products we offer, and the number of ways in which we support our partners.

For this reason, we launched our Indiegogo campaign. Our hope is that through this campaign we will be able to raise additional funds for two purposes. First, to increase the number of partners and products we have with an emphasis on further partnering with organizations that have little or no access to international markets. The demand is there, they are just waiting for us to partner with them! Second, to further expand our level and types of support to our current partners. We envision being able to eventually offer grants and other types of support to our partners. Know that your investment will be used directly to grow our programs (not cover salary expenses, as we are entirely volunteer run!)

We’re interested in your thoughts and questions. What do you think of our model? Do you see areas for collaboration? If so, let us know in the comments below or by contacting us as info@wpmarket.org.

With gratitude, 

Rachel