Jane Mosbacher Morris is the Founder and CEO of TO THE MARKET | Survivor-made Goods, “a social enterprise focused on the promotion of goods made by and stories told by survivors of conflict, abuse, and disease.” Jane was previously the Director of Humanitarian Action for the McCain Institute for International Leadership, where she managed the Institute’s anti-human trafficking program. Jane currently serves on the Institute’s Human Trafficking Advisory Council. Before joining the Institute, she worked in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. Jane has also worked at the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Jane has received a multiple awards from the Department of State, and was named “Top 99 Under 33 Most Influential Young Professionals” by The Diplomatic Courier in 2011. Jane serves on the Advisory Boards of Afghanistan’s ARZU: Studio of Hope, Texas-based 360 DEGREES Vanishing, child sexual abuse-focused non-profit Speak Your Silence, and wH20: The Journal on Gender and Water. Jane is also on the boards of Women LEAD and USA Cares. Jane is a mentor at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton School of Business’s Women Business Leaders. Jane holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a MBA from Columbia Business School. Learn about her career path and advice.
I spent the first part of my career working at the U.S. State Department focused on the intersection of women and security. It was there that I was exposed to how few opportunities vulnerable populations had to earn an income and regain their independence. Fast forward to 2013, when I was on a trip to Kolkata, India and visited two co-ops in Kolkata’s red light districts that were both employing survivors of human trafficking to produce products. I was struck by the model of setting up a business to employ survivors as artisans, serving their emotional and financial needs! I also knew that there was growing demand in the US market for social impact products, so I felt like there was a perfect intersection of opportunity!
How would you explain the mission of To The Market in a few sentences?
TO THE MARKET uses the market to change the trajectory of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations. We do this by partnering with co-ops that employ survivors as artisans. Our partnership includes helping these co-ops and the artisans that they employ (a) to sell their products, (b) tell their stories, and (c) scale through our pro-bono consulting services. We provide our partners with everything from trend forecasting to improve production, to mental health services to improve management. Today, TO THE MARKET has partnered with over 25 co-ops around the world that are employing survivors as artisans, and our network is growing!
What is a typical day like for you? Please walk me through a day!
No day is the same, but many days involve an airplane! Regardless of where I am, every day starts with lots of caffeine, a to-do list, and my Google Calendar. The day might include a mix of working with our Local Partners employing survivors on a custom product, pitching our items to a store, or managing our amazing team of interns. Keeping a to-do list keeps me focused on task. I end each day with devotions, which remind me of what is really important!
Where do you hope to see To The Market in the next five years. What do you hope to have accomplished?
Our vision is to scale and grown the co-ops in our network, accordingly. Our measure of impact is creating financial opportunity for survivor artisans in our network.
How do you define a survivor and how do these women get involved in TO THE MARKET also tells the stories of survivors. Why was the storytelling component so important to you?
Storytelling is imperative to our model. We want to let as many eyes, ears, and hearts learn about the perils survivors have faced and the resiliency with which they live. By giving others the opportunity to hear about these challenges, we hope to raise global awareness and compel others to help address these issues.
How does the co-op model work?
We work with pre-existing co-ops from around the world that employ survivors of abuse, conflict, and disease. Co-ops often organize around survivor populations to provide employment and frequently other resources such as housing, counseling, or healthcare.
You were previously a counterterrorism advisor and a detailee to the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues at The U.S. Department of State and the director of humanitarian action at The McCain Institute for International Leadership. How have your skills and experiences helped you at TO THE MARKET?
Retail seemed like a huge leap from international policy, and this was daunting. I then came to the realization that the core of what I was doing remains the same: I work to bring about change and voices to some of the worlds most marginalized populations. At the end of the day, it is a different means to the same end.
You serve on the boards of Women LEAD and USA Cares and are a mentor at the University of Kentucky’s Gatton School of Business’s Women Business Leaders. Has giving back always played an important role in your life?
Growing up, my parents instilled in my siblings and me a strong sense of service. It is one of the things for which I am most grateful.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start her own business?
Don’t let fear get in the way—you are largely only limited by your own mind.
What are some of the best things, and on the flip side the most challenging things, about starting your own business?
On the challenging side, I would say it usually takes longer than you want to gain traction, and it’s often far more expensive than you thought it would be. The best thing is doing something that you feel wildly passionate about 24/7 (and starting a business is definitely 24/7!).
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
This will not be a linear path, and that is okay!
What is your best advice for young professional women?
Be your own best advocate. Work your tail off. Don’t expect any breaks—create your own!
What are some of your favorite TO THE MARKET gifts this holiday?
I have so many favorites, but if I had to narrow them down (or provide hints for my Wish List), I would say…
The Golden Tassel Necklace ($42): I wear black and gold constantly, so this would add an element of interest to my normal uniform. Plus, I visited the HIV/AIDs shelter where it is made, which makes it extra special to me.
Gold and Silver Tile Clutch ($38): I love to mix gold and silver, so the fact that I can grab this when I am wearing either color makes it a staple for holiday parties! I also visited the co-op where this is made and the artisans working there are extraordinary over-comers.
Ivory Cashmere Scarf ($265 – 15% off through 12/31 with promo code CoolMom)” It’s cashmere form Kashmir! How cool is that? Plus, the master weaver’s initials are in the corner, which I love.
Millie in Grey Block ($124): I have these in black and slip them on constantly, so I know a grey pair would get just as much wear! Mayan women are weaving the fabric and then Otto, who I met during my last trip to Guatemala, is making them in a slum in Guatemala City. Pretty cool!
Thank you, Jane!
Give back this holiday season by shopping at To The Market!