After diving into the creative and wild world of fashion with Alix of Bohemia, this week we’re taking a look at a #girlboss who’s spreading her wings internationally. Our next Career Muse is Jane Mosbacher Morris, CEO and founder of TO THE MARKET. Her company pairs e-commerce with social impact, empowering women all over the world. Scroll on to learn more about her fascinating company and discover how she got her start.
Jane started her career in counter terrorism. Almost immediately, she narrowed her focus to women in national security, which gave her a new perspective on women living in difficult dynamics. During a trip to Afghanistan, she met really smart and progressive women who had little control over their life because they were financially dependent on other people: their husband, in-laws and culture. She knew she wanted to help these women, but didn’t know how to do it.
She started by pursuing her MBA, to lay down a foundation in business. From there, she worked for Cindy McCain in human trafficking, specifically working with populations that were post trauma. The women she worked with were war, rape, trafficking and HIV/AIDS survivors.
During a trip to Calcutta, she visited two cooperatives in the red light district that employed human trafficking survivors to produce saris, blankets and bags. Jane loved the idea of creating a business to provide social services to a community in need. She came back to the states and found many other coops that were working with victims of trauma. She firmly believed in their model of creating local development by empowering people in need.
TO THE MARKET was born from there. It’s a socially inspired business that is economically independent. They work with over 25 co-op partners in 20 countries, helping them scale by providing distribution channels, product marketing, press and free management consulting.
Q+A With Jane Mosbacher Morris
B+C: What’s been the peak of starting TO THE MARKET?
JM: I’m most ecstatic when I am with our artisans and see how transformative the work is to them and their self esteem. That’s what it’s about. Retail is just a means to an end.
B+C: What’s been the valley of starting TO THE MARKET?
JM: When I visits the coops, I often meet the daughters of the artisans, and it’s hard to know how vulnerable they are. It’s hard to leave them when they’re living in a red light district, for example. That is what drives me, though. I keep a picture of a girl I met a year ago as my screensaver on both my computer and my phone, because that girl is who I am working for.
B+C: You spent last year defining and building your brand. What’s the goal for 2016? 2020?
JM: I hope that TO THE MARKET develops business-to-business partnerships with other retailers. By 2020, I hope we become a household name, so that both consumers and businesses look to us as a source for all types of social impact goods.
B+C: What does social impact mean to you?
JM: It means made by the impact of the community you’re serving. I feel very strongly about the dignity of work.
B+C: What advice would you give to someone who is starting her own company?
JM: Be your own best advocate. Nobody is going to do you any favors. If you want to do something, you need to go and do it, and not expect people to help you. Ask yourself: What is my unique value add? Take the time to understand how you can maximize your impact.
Want to support Jane’s efforts? In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month this January, To The Market is raising awareness with #ShoptoStopIt in January. Tweet and show your support by buying goods either made in a slave-free supply chain or by purchasing products made by trafficking survivors.
Got a career muse you’d love to know more about? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know, and she could be featured next!
(Photo via Jane Mosbacher Morris and @letsgottm)