What first comes to mind when you think of Lauren Conrad & Hannah Skvarla’s The Little Market? Candles & jewelry? Kitchen & bath goods? Trail mix & fish sticks? Well, believe it or not, all of those are true. From what was supposed to be a surf & yoga retreat on the coast of El Salvador (that turned out to be their own version of Fyre Festival) came an idea for a nonprofit of artisanal goods made all over the world by women, for women.
“The yoga instructor was out on maternity leave, & the only food they had for us was frozen fish sticks,” says Hannah. It wasn’t ideal, but rather than book early flights home & call the trip a wash, the two sat around the hotel eating rations of trail mix Lauren saved from the flight in & brainstorming a project. Over the next five days, they created a business model for an online nonprofit marketplace giving female artisans all over the world a platform to sell their goods & provide for themselves & their families while allowing customers to purchase items they would otherwise have no way to find.
While the concept was cemented in El Salvador, Hannah says The Little Market wasn’t truly born until their first trip to Mexico together in 2013 when they met some of the artisans in person for the first time. Hannah, coming from a background in human rights, says it was then that they were able to assess what these women & their families needed, leading her & Lauren, best known for her time on The Hills & Laguna Beach in addition to her work as a designer, to meet with human rights advisors, fair trade experts & e-commerce experts back in the States to plan how to make it all happen. Today, they work with nearly 70 female artisans in 28 countries, have a brick & mortar shop in Palisades Village, CA & Hannah hints at another future location in Orange County. The company’s growth expands outside their e-commerce & physical outlets. Recently, their artisan candle partner was able to hire two additional refugee women from the Congo to help in production due to their rapid candle sales through The Little Market’s platform. It’s moments like these, moments that show how empowered their female artisans have become with the right platform, that make trail mix & fish sticks seem a very small price to pay for Hannah & Lauren.
We spent a day in the kitchen with Hannah to hear more about her favorite foods, learn how we can do our part in this world, &, of course, snag her secret watermelon margarita recipe! See more below…
- for simple syrup:
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- for margarita:
- 3 cup cubed seedless watermelon
- ¾ cup white tequila
- ¼ cup lime juice
- for garnish:
- crushed ice
- lime wedges
- salt for rimming the glass
- In medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar & water. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved.
- While letting the syrup cool slightly, blend the watermelon. Strain blended watermelon into pitcher & add the simple syrup, tequila, & lime juice. Stir to combine.
- If salting rims, rub the lime wedge over the rim of your glasses & then dip rim into salt.
- Pour mixture into individual glasses over ice & garnish with lime wedge. Serve & enjoy!
Favorite recipe to cook or bake?
I don’t really cook or bake, although I would like to! Lauren, on the other hand, does both. She’s so good. She does holiday meals really well – everything from Thanksgiving to Easter.
Weirdest food you guys have eaten on your travels for The Little Market?
Avocado margarita in Mexico — FYI the consensus was that they’re each better on their own…
Favorite snacks for someone as on the-the-go as you?
Kelly Leveque introduced me to ChocZero bark. I have a huge sweet tooth, but I’m trying to eat less sugar these days. It totally curbs the craving.
Jon & Vinny’s, Sweet Laurel, A Votre Sante, & Tocaya
Coffee, almond milk & chocolate
Favorite kitchen tool?
Female entrepreneurs who inspire you?
There are so many! Jessica Alba (Honest Company), Ariel Gordon, Chelsea & Jamie (Sugar Paper), Laurel Gallucci & Claire Thomas (Sweet Laurel), Anine Bing, Jenn Meyer, Rachel Zoe, Andrea Lieberman, & Marissa Hermer.
What is one easy way everyone can do a little good in this world?
I like to say that all shopping is like voting with your dollar, so be thoughtful about where you spend. With a little pre-thought and research, you can still go about your life & mindfully support causes that matter to you. Whether that means purchasing clothes from sustainable brands or doing your grocery shopping at the farmers market, think about who/what your dollar is supporting.
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*Editing by Rob Lee.
**Images via Shannan Leigh for Public Lives, Secret Recipes.