Less than 1 year ago, an online store was launched. This wasn’t just any online store, but rather it was a store with a mission to see artisans working around the world connected with the people who want their products.
107 Market Street is a store with a desire to see the stories of lives redeemed continuing to be told, through the products the bearers of these stories make, and the commitment to joining people together in an online marketplace.
Amy and Sarah, the founders of 107 Market Street, are well acquainted with the business world, but grew tired of the rat-race and wanted to use their skills to bring about change, coming alongside others, encouraging and building them up.
So they started up 107 Market Street – based off Psalm 107, and the artisan’s stories of redemption, hope and people coming together.
It’s a bright, cheerful, beautiful product-packed hub of a website where you can learn about artisans in Haiti and Ghana, find and purchase the individual pieces they make, and have your purchases make a difference in their lives.
Each and every item is handmade, made from locally available materials in Haiti and Ghana – fabric and clay beads, handcrafted leather, batik fabric, woven sweet grass, and more!
There’s something for everyone, from pillows and home accents, to gorgeous leather journals and leather products for the men, to children’s clothing, toys and nursery decor.
Naomi was farming from sun-up until sundown to help pay for her brother to attend school until she began working with Feeding the Orphans. She is a blessing to Feeding the Orphans by training many women in beading and jewelry design.
Donald‘s pay was usually sent directly to his family. He says he “never touched money,” meaning that although he was fed and had a place to sleep, he still was not actually earning a living. He has one of the most physically stressful jobs of stamping out the tire soles for our sandals and sanding them to a perfect finish. Donald is also recently taking on a part-time job training to learn welding.
Before the earthquake, Jolina and her husband both had jobs and rented a house for themselves and two children. After the earthquake everything changed. Everything crumbled and there was no money or opportunity to recover. Still Jolina responded with grace and generosity as a member of a local women’s group and volunteered at an orphanage their association had founded. It was in that orphanage, where Jolina met the founder of REBUILD. From that moment, Jolina became a permanent part of REBUILD.
Everything has changed for her family. She has received training and education in business and she is able to pay school fees. For her family, it is the difference between trying to survive and living. Jolina’s story is truly that of profound resurgence and growth.”
Amy took some time to answer my questions about how 107 Market Street got its start and what their vision is for the future of meeting needs with style:
What is the mission, passion and purpose behind 107 Market Street and how were you inspired to start the company?
The mission of 107 Market Street is to help create sustainable income for artisan’s who provide for their families.
“Where style meets need” 107 Market Street exists to connect customers with vetted artisans, provide platforms for marketing original, high-end, hand-made items, and partner with organizations training artists with marketable skills.
Our hearts simply want to bring about change that makes a difference in the lives of people. We both have a heart for children domestically and internationally through the foster care system as well as adoption. No mother should have to make the decision to give up their child because they cannot provide for them. The term ‘economic orphans’ wrecks us.
We chose the name ‘Market Street’ because we want to be an avenue where folks can go to easily purchase stylish items that quite literally positively impact the life of the hands that made it.
We stumbled upon Psalm 107 one day in the early stages of planning the start of the company. It struck us both – it tells several stories of how God provides a way for His people.
Psalm 107: 2 & 3 say, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…from the east and west, from north to south.”
That’s exactly what we want to do – tell the stories of the redeemed, help be part of the global solution for sustainable economic development, and support families to stay together.
Sarah and I both were invested in corporate jobs for 10+ years where we were running the rat race of busy-ness. We met 2 years ago and became friends through a Bible Study. It became clear that our passions were similar – children matter & families are important – our paths had crossed for a reason.
When we visited Haiti, we realized the obvious: that when artisans have product orders, they work. When there are no orders, they may not be able to feed their families.
We are learning that Respect and Dignity play a huge role in the fair trade market. We don’t want customers to buy products out of the goodness of their heart. It is our goal to create a lifestyle of creativity and fashion where people want the fair trade products because they just can’t live without them!
As 107 Market Street continues to grow and develop, we have many plans to work with artists and designers to help shape and mould what is available in each respective region to answer the call for fashion and creativity!
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How do you work to connect artisans with the global market?
Our plan is to always have a personal connection with the artisans and organizations that we work with.
Currently, we work with our friends, Kathy and Beaver Brooks in Gonaives, Haiti.
Over the course of many years, they are to be credited with meeting, training, and helping all of the artisans that we feature in this area. During our stay with them in September, they introduced us to not only the artisans with whom they work personally, but drove us to Port au Prince to meet 2 of the other organizations with whom we now partner, ReBuild Globally and Haiti Design Co-Op.
In Ghana, West Africa, I still have personal connections based on the adoption of my 6 year-old beauty. We work with an organization called Feeding the Orphans who has started a women’s program that disciples, mentors, and trains women with a marketable skill to create beautiful, quality, items.
The story that Sarah and I kept hearing over and over again from organizations abroad and from local artisans here in the states: “We have this gift, skill, or talent but we don’t know how to sell it”. That is where our corporate backgrounds come into play and we knew we had the skills to help.
How do you find the artisans / co-ops to partner with, and what draws you to them?
To date – all of the organizations that we work with are independent of 107 Market Street and sell their products through other avenues too. We do have plans to work with artisans whose designs will become exclusive to 107 Market Street.
I believe what differentiates 107 Market Street from simply being an online store that sells fair trade products is that we are dedicated to expanding the reach of the artisan’s products.
Our plan is to market and sell wholesale to shops and boutiques. We plan to make a marked difference in the amount of work that is available in the regions where we partner.
The stories of your artisans (I loved Abigail and Jolina‘s story, as well as many others!!) are inspiring and amazing – their lives have been completely changed by the opportunity to work with connecting to a global market.
How have your lives been impacted and changed by taking on this mission?
This question seems almost impossible to answer because the ways we have been changed, challenged, and inspired are countless and we are just beginning!
Seeing untapped raw talent – the awestruck beauty of a country that is undeniable defined as poverty-stricken and broken.
Uncovering the hidden secret of what is easily seen on the surface.
Watching for God’s view. Learning to trust and have faith.
Watching people who live in undesirable locations commit to stay and live in that area because it is HOME. They want to be the change you see in their world.
THEY are the ones who inspire us.
Watching our (Sarah and my) friendship and partnership with each other grow and develop so naturally that it can only be defined as God-inspired.
Can you share a story of how you have seen 107 Market Street be a part of changing another person’s life?
We are so young as a company to date. There are many great stories of our artisans – lives changed, families preserved, communities restored.
The most notable confirmation we see that our mission is one that is needed is the relief we see in the eyes of our personal connections. As we explain our goal to the leaders of our partner organizations, they are thankful to have someone come beside them and commit to spreading the reach of their products stateside.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and there are some gorgeous pieces (well, really, they’re all gorgeous!) on the 107 Market Street site you might want to add to your wish list – there’s lots for the men too!. ;0)