Little Miracles: Hannah Skvarla of The Little Market

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Little Miracles: Hannah Skvarla of The Little Market

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Artisanal, handmade products have been in the spotlight for a moment now, and for good reason. There’s something extra special about holding an item that you know was forged by someone who took their time with it, taking years to perfect their craft. But what if you could support artists and those in need simultaneously?

The Little Market is taking their support of global artisans to the next level. By exclusively working with women in vulnerable communities around the world, they help to create dignified work opportunities for craftspeople in need of a wider audience. Statistics show that when women can generate their own income, they are able to initiate more opportunities for safety, autonomy and education for their families. Bambini Furtuna is proud to collaborate with The Little Market to introduce a limited edition bath and bed gift set perfect for nighttime bonding moments with your children. Listen in to learn more about the mission behind this trailblazing company with a cause.

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.

Agatha Luczo: Hi, I am Agatha Luczo, mother of four. 

[00:00:08] Dr. Greene: And I'm Alan Greene, pediatrician. 

[00:00:10] Agatha Luczo: Welcome to Bambini Furtuna's podcast. Mom Driven.

[00:00:13] Dr. Greene: Dr. Aligned. 

[00:00:15] Agatha Luczo: Hello, Dr. Greene. I'm so excited about our conversation today. Hannah Skvarla is joining us who's co-founder and CEO of The Little Market and you know how much I love The Little Market. So thank you, Hannah, for joining us today. 

[00:00:29] Dr. Greene: Yes! We're so excited to have you here today. 

[00:00:32] Agatha Luczo: It's so nice to meet you. I'm Agatha.

[00:00:34] Hannah Skvarla: Likewise. Very, very nice to meet you. I've heard so much about both of you, and this is so fun to meet. 

[00:00:38] Agatha Luczo: We love the mission behind The Little Market and feel so aligned as we aim to create similar economic support for families in Sicily through Bambini Furtuna. Can you please tell us a little bit about your mission in starting The Little Market? 

[00:00:52] Hannah Skvarla: Yeah. I mean, the mission behind The Little Market was really to find a way to support dignified work opportunities for women in underserved and vulnerable communities around the globe. Lauren Conrad and I really wanted to find a way to give back, but we wanted it to do it differently.

[00:01:07] We didn't want to come up with another charity that was competing with all these incredible organizations that already exist. We wanted to be able to find a way to support these incredible handmade traditions that artisans have passed down from generation to generation while bringing them well-deserved income.

[00:01:25] So that's how we really ended up with The Little Market. We realized that through us creating a marketplace for their handmade goods, we could give a little bit of design feedback and really do the marketing and photography for them. And then let women continue to make the beautiful things that they've been making for generations and generations.

[00:01:43] Dr. Greene: Hannah, it's so good to have you with us here today. And for people who are listening right now, we're recording this just before giving Tuesday and just before the holiday season. And so what a great way to both give to people in a really meaningful way by supporting their dignified work, rather than just as a charity, or hand out, but it is a 501C3 that things that you purchased there are going to actually support people in a powerful way.

[00:02:07] And if you want to look while you're listening to us, it's  Gorgeous website and gorgeous products. 

[00:02:15] Hannah Skvarla: Thank you so much. 

[00:02:17] Dr. Greene: So you're taking fair trade to a new level. 

[00:02:19] Hannah Skvarla: That's our goal. We really want fair trade products to be something that's accessible for everybody's home. And for something that shoppers globally know about and understand the importance of.

[00:02:30] Dr. Greene: And rather than just giving a handout, you're giving really a life-changing sustainable income for people who are creating.

[00:02:38] Hannah Skvarla: That's what we set out to do. When Lauren and I traveled [internationally to visit] non-profits that were focused around women and children. So often the women beneficiaries would share with us that some of them needed the charity from the organizations they were getting [but] at the end of the day, all they wanted was to be able to support themselves and their families.

[00:02:54] So many of these women were already making beautiful handmade products because the techniques have been passed down from generation to generation. The women just didn't have access to customers who wanted to buy them. You know, so many of the women we work with live in remote villages don't have access to transportation which keeps them from being able to reach customers. So Lauren and I realized that by creating an online marketplace, we could handle [inaudible] shippings, the customs, and help them reach a bigger audience so they could help themselves. 

[00:03:24] Agatha Luczo: It's amazing. 

[00:03:25] Dr. Greene: I love it. That's fantastic. I don't know if you know our friends at Traditional Medicinals, the tea company, and they go and create sustainable income for people around the world where the different herbs and teas that they harvest. And they found that by employing women in the community, that it makes a huge difference because the money that they earn goes back into their families, back into the community at a much higher rate than the guys get the money.

[00:03:53] Hannah Skvarla: We have found the exact same thing. And that was actually part of, kind of our initial research. And when we learned that, it really inspired us even more to really focus on women. But just like your friends discovered globally when women had access to their own income, that's when they started investing in education for their children.

[00:04:11] So often families are forced to choose which children will get sent to school. And it's usually the boys, not the girls. The girls are kept home for household chores, but as soon as moms have more income, girls go to school too. And as we know, education has such a powerful impact on families and communities.

[00:04:27] Artists have often shared with us that as soon as the women have access to their own income, domestic violence goes down and they have more rights in the community. So women have even shared with us that as soon as they have this income, they're allowed to leave their small village to go buy new materials. Where prior to that, they might not have had permission from their husbands. I mean, it's truly transformed the way people live. 

[00:04:50] Agatha Luczo: I love that you're doing this. And you know the story of our estate at La Furtuna.

[00:04:55]Hannah Skvarla:  I do.

[00:04:55] Agatha Luczo: So when we found the land, we hired back the people that used to own the land to work the farm. And for even years, there were no jobs in this area. And so it's been great giving back to the community and everyone's so happy to come and work the land. 

[00:05:12] Hannah Skvarla: That is so beautiful.

[00:05:14] Agatha Luczo: But truly, I mean, I love the story of The Little Market and we're so proud to be launching an amazing limited edition bath and bed gift set with The Little Market. And that includes our Dreamy Hush Time roller and an olive oil and Chamomile bath bomb from The Little Market. I find that to be the perfect gift for a child and parent bonding moment. Bedtime is my favorite moment in the evening. Can you tell us a little bit about the artisans behind The Little Markets Bath Bomb?

[00:05:45] Hannah Skvarla: Yeah. Well, first off bedtime is a favorite in our household as well, and bath bomb is often a part of that and both Lauren and I so appreciate how careful you are with the ingredients you select. We're both very careful about the ingredients we put on our own bodies and especially our children's.

[00:06:01] So we really appreciate that that matters so much to you. So the back bombs are made right here in the U. S. as a few of our other spa products are because we like to work locally, nationally, and globally. The artisans that make the bath bombs are receiving dignified work, and they are people in vulnerable communities.

[00:06:20] And this artisan group hires women in recovery, people with disabilities and people who have led to chronic poverty. these are really hardworking people that just need access to job opportunities. And that's what the bath bomb group creates. 

[00:06:33] Agatha Luczo:That's fantastic

[00:06:34] Hannah Skvarla: And it's so important for you to know --  support from organizations like you guys is so important and moves the needle so much for us and the artisans we work with. So thank you. 

[00:06:44] Dr. Greene: Hannah, tell us a little bit about the technique for making these bath bombs that we're doing together? 

[00:06:48] Hannah Skvarla: Like all of our products, the bath bombs are handmade. They are made using raw, high quality ingredients that are mixed by hand in small batches within the studio. Then eight team members collaborate to complete each recipe, task by task. This intricate process must be conducted precisely based on the recipe when they mix and combine the ingredients. And it’s really  a crossover between art and science. And once they're done each, the  bath bomb is set out to dry for 24 hours and then 17 members finish the bath bomb with the custom packaging.

[00:07:21] Agatha Luczo: That sounds so wonderful. 

[00:07:22] Dr. Greene: Perfect. And it's olive oil and Chamomile two of the things that are in our Hushtime. 

[00:07:26] Agatha Luczo: Yeah. So this bath bomb was formulated specifically for the Bambini Furtuna and The Little Market collaboration. 

[00:07:35] Hannah Skvarla: It's really the perfect bedtime gift for anybody on your list. And it was so fun to put together this bath bomb. It's different than all of our others. We worked really hard on this recipe together with your team, and we're really proud of the results. 

[00:07:50] Agatha Luczo: Yes. So are we. So as many people know, and I constantly share one of my favorite bedtime rituals is, and my kids as well, they can't go to sleep without the Dreamy Hushtime roller, and they love having nice baths.

[00:08:04] Hannah Skvarla: My daughter loves it too. She thinks it's really funny to roll it on my face during the day, cause she thinks I'll fall asleep. That's because we've made it such a big part of the bedtime routine. So it's very loved at our house. 

[00:08:15] Agatha Luczo: Oh, good. I'm so happy to hear that. And have you found that your rituals have evolved as your family has gotten bigger?

[00:08:22] Hannah Skvarla: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, bedtime feels like it's a two hour process that starts with a five o'clock dinner that takes an hour to get a simple meal, then by six o'clock we're in the bath with the bath bombs. And then we try to be out by 6:20 so we have plenty of time to put on pajamas, brush teeth, and then enough time for stories. But bedtime's all about kind of calming down, ending the day, talking about our highlights of the day. So it's a really special time for us. 

[00:08:51] Agatha Luczo: Yeah.  It's a beautiful time. I found that also for me as our family group, we have four kids. Another ritual that we love practicing is gratitude. I find that when you practice gratitude, actually Dr. Greene and I wrote a book called The Ritual of Gratitude. [It’s a gratitude] journal. I love jotting it down and making, having our kids think about it and being mindful because they say the more you practice gratitude, it also helps with building the immune system and making you a happier person.

[00:09:16] It's a great thing to practice. And we're coming up on Thanksgiving now. So are there ways that you and your family like practicing gratitude?

[00:09:26] Hannah Skvarla: You know, this year, we're talking about it more and more with my daughter who’s five and a half now. My son he's really good at saying thank you, but I'm not sure he has a deeper understanding of gratitude on that.

[00:09:38] But with my daughter, we talk a lot about how lucky we are, and especially around the holidays, talking about how not everybody's as fortunate as us and how different ways we can give back to others. So that's kind of how it's talked about in our house right now. But as my kids get older, I can't wait to have a regular gratitude practice like you.

[00:09:54] Agatha Luczo: Yeah. It's fun. I do tell them every day that you know, the blessing and all of this is having them at home all day long every day. I always say every evening, I'm so grateful to have you guys at home with me every day, 

[00:10:07] Hannah Skvarla: But I think a big part of gratitude is always finding the silver lining in things.

[00:10:12] Dr. Greene: Hey, gratitude is so powerful. And that's one of the reasons why almost every culture in history has some kind of gratitude ritual either before a meal or a separate feast day or before bed but being thankful changes our outlook on everything.

[00:10:27] Agatha Luczo: And I think that's why our, you know, we practice gratitude so much and express to the kids, how like you said, Hannah, finding the silver lining in things and expressing that to the kids. It makes them happier through this tough time of COVID. It was so sweet the other day our daughter said, I love my life. 

[00:10:43] Dr. Greene: I love it. 

[00:10:44] Agatha Luczo: And that just makes me so happy because it shows how happy she is. 

[00:10:47] Hannah Skvarla: And that you're doing everything right as a mom, which is always...

[00:10:50]Agatha Luczo:  We try 

[00:10:51] Hannah Skvarla: Nice to know.

[00:10:51] Agatha Luczo: It's hard.  We have our challenges. It's hard, but it's very rewarding. 

[00:10:56] Dr. Greene: Hannah, I have a question. You said that you like to work both locally, nationally and globally. 

[00:11:01] Hannah Skvarla: Yeah.

[00:11:02] Dr. Greene: Locally, is there a brick and mortar store of The Little Market as well as the web store? 

[00:11:06] Hannah Skvarla: Yes, there is. We have a brick and mortar store in Los Angeles. It's our only one, but we also have local partners in LA. So we partner with a nonprofit that creates job opportunities for women who are formerly homeless. And then nationally, I think we about six artists and partners, most of whom are women. And then of course we have another 70ish partners around the world.

[00:11:27] Dr. Greene: How do you find and cultivate the artisans? 

[00:11:30] Hannah Skvarla: That's a great question? You mentioned fair trade earlier. We are members of the Fair Trade Federation. In fact, our executive director served on their board. So through the Fair Trade Federation, you get recommendations. That being said, a Fair Trade Federation certification is similar to an organic certification for small producers, meaning you might not have the bandwidth or the resources to fill out the application. So there's plenty of organizations that are making fair trade products, but they don't know how to reach a larger market. So we work really hard to do research with our other nonprofit partners that have on the ground relationships to look for those groups that may not even know what the Fair Trade Federation is.

[00:12:08] So it's a lot of research. We have an artisan application on the website where artisan partners can find us. Pre-COVID times when Instagram followers were traveling, they may recommend artisans that they might find either by sending pictures or occasionally you'll find a group of a very tiny Instagram account that's just trying to figure out how to reach a larger audience, but a number of ways. So everything from the internet to word of mouth. 

[00:12:30] Dr. Greene: That's fantastic. And then you mentioned that the underserved groups that you're cultivating, it's people living in poverty, people with disabilities. Who else?

[00:12:40] Hannah Skvarla: That's a great question. So it's a long list. So people with physical disabilities, we just added on a new partner in the U.S. that makes hand sanitizer, and that is individuals with severe mental illness.  Refugees, as we talked about women who have survived domestic violence, some who have survived trafficking, women who are formally homeless, that most of these individuals live in extreme poverty and have very few opportunities for jobs because of where they live or because of discrimination.

[00:13:11] Yeah, 

[00:13:11] Agatha Luczo: I recommend everyone, you know, when they're doing their Christmas shopping to come to The Little Market to shop.

[00:13:16] Dr. Greene: And speaking of which you have the holiday gift guide, right? 

[00:13:18] Hannah Skvarla: Yes we do. We hope to have something for everybody on everybody's list. We really work hard to find products that would appeal to anybody.

[00:13:28] Agatha Luczo: Do you have any favorite goodies on the gift guide? 

[00:13:30] Hannah Skvarla: On the gift guide? For me, the candles are a really easy gift. We also let you personalize them. So you can do everything like Happy Holidays Agatha or Happy Holidays from the Queen family. We've worked really hard to make that accessible for people as just an extra added thoughtful touch. And those, like I said, are made right here in the U.S. by women who were former refugees from both Burma and Congo. And that's a partner that we've had to the very beginning. So our candles have always been really special to us. 

[00:14:00] Agatha Luczo: So great. 

[00:14:01] Hannah Skvarla: Lauren and I are both also very crazy about the glassware. We've also had that since the beginning and the glass itself has made using recycled glass and then it's hand etched in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico at a co-op that employs artisans with physical disabilities.

[00:14:17] And the glassware is absolutely beautiful. It's something we really treasure in our own homes and it's the type of thing that it's so much, even no matter how many photos we take and how pretty the photos are when you touch it and feel it is when you really see how special it is.

[00:14:31] Agatha Luczo: I'll have to check them out. I'm looking forward to going through your gift guide.

[00:14:35] Hannah Skvarla: Oh good!

[00:14:36] Dr. Greene: You call it The Little Market, but it sounds pretty big to me. 

[00:14:39] Agatha Luczo: Yeah, it should be The Big Market. 

[00:14:41] Hannah Skvarla: It started off really little, and we feel so fortunate that it's grown to what it is today. And again, thanks to the support of people like you. 

[00:14:49] Agatha Luczo: Thank you so much for everything. And please go out and get your bed and bath gift set.  I know everyone will enjoy this amazing bedtime routine.

[00:14:59] Hannah Skvarla: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you. 

[00:15:02] Dr. Greene: Thank you. Great getting to meet you. 

[00:15:04] Agatha Luczo: Thank you everyone for joining us today. And please join us next time and please rate, review and share Mom Driven, Doctor Aligned. 

[00:15:13] Dr. Greene: Until next time. Be well.

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