The Little Market & Women in Peru

Everywhere I travel, I’m always struck by the industrious, entrepreneurial women I meet.  Meeting the women in Peru was no exception.  And when I found out that a little start-up founded by two women right here in the U.S. was working to support & showcase the work of female artisans around the world: I knew I had to be involved.  

“A Non-Profit Founded by Women to Empower Women”

In this post, you’ll learn all about how a little company called the Little Market, founded by Lauren Conrad & Hannah Skvarla, supports female artisans around the world by offering their goods to a global market.  The consumer receives unique, hand-crafted items from far-flung corners of the globe, while women the Little Market partners with ~ like the women in Peru ~ receive better wages & the ability to preserve their unique traditions of craftsmanship for future generations, instead of letting them slip into obscurity.  

In short: it’s a WIN-WIN.

Women in Peru, The-Little-Market-Hannah-Skvarla-Lauren-Conrad_2048x2048

Lauren Conrad (aka “LC” from Laguna Beach” & Hannah Skvarla, co-founders of the Little Market.

Little Market Mission Statement

“We seek to empower women artisans to rise above poverty and support their families. Our handmade goods showcase the artisans’ traditional skills and their dedication to preserving their artisanal techniques. We source all of the artisans’ products ethically and practice fair trade principles. We acknowledge the inter-dependency of people around the world and our responsibility to help others. “

The Little Market & Women in Peru

Come walk down this dusty road that leads to the women of the world…

Meet the Women in Peru…

This video is from my own travels in Peru, & shows the women & children I met on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

Meet the Little Market…

This video takes you behind-the-scenes of the Little Market’s work in Guatemala, & introduces you to some of the female artisans they work with.  And yes, the “Lauren” who co-founded the Little Market is the Lauren Conrad (“LC”) of former reality TV-fame, on “Laguna Beach” & “The Hills.”  Clearly she has embarked upon an entirely different, & likely more rewarding, chapter in her life.

Women in Peru ~ Statistics

Peru ranks 80 out of 144 countries in terms of gender equality, according to the 2016 Global Gender Gap report.  Though traditional Andean culture is notably egalitarian (women are allowed to inherit property, unlike in many other parts of the world), this changed noticeably after the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in 1572.  Since then, Peruvian society has become more patriarchal, and some would say, more machista.  

Add to that Peru’s 20-year internal, armed conflict that lasted from 1980-2000, which left over 70,000 people dead, others affected by torture and rape.  Though the country is showing increasing economic progress, & the armed conflict has ended, Peru still suffers from widespread inequality, discrimination, and racism.  

Many of these problems affect children & women in Peru to a greater extent: for instance, the female literacy rate in Peru is 92%, compared to 97% for men.  Only 47% of females over the age of 25 who have received secondary education (as of 2010).  These numbers will likely be changing soon ~ as currently, there are more women than men enrolled in education programs in Peru.  During the armed conflict, more than 300,000 rural women were forcibly sterilized as part of a campaign to “end poverty.”  

Women in Peru who are uneducated & living in rural areas are much more likely to be affected by these injustices, & these are exactly the women that the Little Market seeks to reach.

Women in Peru are less likely to travel than Peruvian men, and thus, are less likely to speak Spanish, the national language.  This makes them more socially isolated, and less likely to interact with outsiders or foreigners.  I witnessed this personally throughout my travels in Peru: the men are predominantly the ones to work in cities & as tour guides (usually the higher-paying jobs), while the women typically work in the home & on farms.  This lack of ability to travel, and lack of ability to speak with outsiders, tends to keep Peruvian women firmly “in their places,” at home and on the farm. 

I can’t tell you how many times I saw Peruvian women, wearing traditional clothing, headed straight up steep mountains carrying HUGE sack on their backs ~ filled with food, clothing, & sometimes even children too.  Their sheer physical strength & stoicism floored me.  

Women in Peru, Andes

The quintessential image I have of the Peruvian woman is climbing in the Andes mountains, with a huge sack on her back.

Another problem faced by women in Peru is no different than what women face in other parts of the world: dramatic wage inequality.  For the same work, a woman will earn $8,661 (in USD) vs. her male Peruvian counterparts, who will earn $15,323 USD.  So, for the same work, a woman will earn nearly half what a man will earn, for doing the same job.  

How Can You Help?

I believe that by empowering women in other countries, we empower ourselves.  By supporting other women, we support ourselves.  By strengthening other women, we strengthen ourselves.  Helping other women to create financial security & independence for themselves is a cause that has the power to effect women the world over, & the ripple effects of that are immeasurable.  Women in Peru, Peru Travel, Lauren Conrad, The Little Market

“If you really want to change a culture to empower women improve basic hygiene and health care and fight high rates of infant mortality the answer is to educate girls.” 
― Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea

The goods you’ll find on the Little Market’s website range from cute tote bags to stuffed animals, beach bags & beach towels, to hats, quilts, & blankets.  And we all know how it feels to have made a purchase in another country ~ to have purchased something that has more meaning than our latest Target purchase.  Often times, it is more special because we know whose hands have made that item, & that makes it feel more personal. 

Meet Peruvian Female Artisans!

Manuela Ramos & Naguska are two of the women artisans that the Little Market works with in Peru.  Manuela creates 100% alpaca hats, mittens, & dolls out of Puno, Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca.  Naguska founded an export company in 1997 that seeks to create job opportunities for fellow artisans in Peru.  Click on their images below to learn more about each of these ladies. 

Manuela Ramos

Peru Travel, Female Peruvian Artisans, the Little Market


Peru Travel, Naguska, The Little Market

Support Female Artisans from Peru

By purchasing handmade, Peruvian crafts from the Little Market’s Peruvian collection ~ you are not only bringing beautifully crafted work into your home, but you’re also directly affecting the lives of women in Peru.  And if you have ever visited this country and been affected by it, as I have, this is no small thing.  I’m also obsessed with the beach bags on the Little Market’s site right now, many of which were hand-crafted in Mexico.

Peru Travel, Female Artisans Peru, The Little Market
Peru Travel, Support Female Artisans, Shop the Little Market Collection