It's that time of year again and pop-up shops are springing up all over the city, offering shoppers an alternative to big-box retail for the gift giving season. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Holiday Sip and Shop Pop-Up Market hosted by Ellevate Network. According to Maricella Herrera, Director of Global Membership, Ellevate Network hosts over 500 events per year in 40 cities all over the globe in order to help women in business and government close the achievement gender gap. The event took place at a cozy gallery space in Chelsea and featured a curated and diverse mix of women-owned businesses offering a wide variety of products and services.
For those cold and dry winter days, skin care line Fair Tale Ghana offers unrefined shea butter cream. When founder Kai Lepik traveled to Ghana she saw an opportunity to bring the product from the local to an international market while collaborating with the local women who process the shea butter to ensure they are paid a fair wage. This is helping to support the local community through a collaboration with NGO Mondo, who direct a percentage of the proceeds toward children’s school supplies.The line is also available on Amazon.
At Destiny Foundation, colorful hand-block printed scarves and richly woven saris repurposed into tote bags were available for purchase. Proceeds benefit the craftswomen who are survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking in West Bengal, India. Destiny Foundation helps to train women in technical sewing skills and literacy in order to provide a path to full time employment outside of the sex trade. A product catalog is available on their website. Destiny Foundation also offers volunteer and internship opportunities.
Locally made products were also featured, including a sophisticated line of leather handbags and totes from jlewbags with an unexpected source of inspiration. "I'm a boxer and I had trouble finding a bag I could use to carry my gloves from the gym to the office," This led founder Jamie Lewis to create a line of bags with clean lines, high end materials, and clever details such as a silver boxing-glove zipper pull. While most of the line is produced in New York, the brand has also collaborated with artisans in Haiti to create hand-beaded clutches. When starting her business, Ms. Lewis turned to MakersRow for assistance in sourcing a producer. It was a struggle in the beginning to find a supplier who could fulfill the high quality standards the brand required, but in the end persistence paid off. jlew is available online at jlewbags.com and their Nolita boutique (290 Mulberry St).
For this newcomer to the New York scene, it was very inspiring to see so many women taking the initiative to start their own business. It was even more inspiring to see how many of these business owners are using their platform to help support women in developing countries as well as local artists by bringing their talents to a wider market. If you weren't able to attend the event and still need to pick up a few last-minute gifts, I encourage you to check out their websites for a little conscious consumerism as an alternative to the mall.