18th May 2015

Be Inspired by this world changer

There are moments throughout life when we’re faced with circumstances that leave us feeling like we want to do something, yet we feel consumed with bewilderment and believe the lie that our efforts won’t really make a difference. So then we forget. We try to un-see what we’ve been exposed to. We push the tug-on-the-heart to the back of our mind and we move on. Some of us. Others HAVE to do something, which brings us to today’s Be Inspired guest.

To the Market

She once occupied the seat of high-powered meetings in DC, until her work led here to places she couldn’t forget and put her in contact with some of the worlds most vulnerable women. There was no turning her head, she knew she had to help this problem and TO THE MARKET was born.

Founder and CEO of TTM | Survivor-made Goods, Jane Mosbacher Morris, is here to share her heart for TTM, that moment she knew that she had to do something, the struggles she faced when setting up this social enterprise and her determination to defy the odds and actually make a difference around the globe. TTM aims to empower proud and passionate artisans who have overcome the perils of abuse, conflict and disease with the dignity and opportunity to use their crafts to seek economic independence.

Red Light mumbai sitting on steps

Jane has served as the Director of Humanitarian Action for the McCain Institute for International Leadership, where she managed the Institute’s anti-human trafficking program. She has also worked in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. Alongside executing her passion for TTM she’s also writes for the Huffington Post, serves on a variety of advisory boards and speaks nationally on peace and security.

To the market

Her story is one that’s oh-so inspiring, her fervor for life – contagious, and her heart is pure as goldDIVIDERTell us briefly how TO THE MARKET came about. Was there an ‘aha’ moment or a certain time when you knew you just had to do something?

I was on a trip to Kolkata, India while working for the McCain Institute on anti-trafficking when I was exposed to two incredible social enterprises that were employing survivors of human trafficking.  I loved the idea of empowering a population by offering them the dignity of work, which I believe can lead to economic independence. The TO THE MARKET team believes that economic independence is a crucial part of ANYONE living a self-sufficient, prosperous life, but that this is especially true for those post-trauma. 

Who are some of the survivors that  you work with?

We work with survivors of abuse, conflict, and disease. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to; survivors of abuse, such as survivors of domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse, and human trafficking; survivors of conflict, such as war widows, refugees, or persons living in conflict/post-conflict states; or survivors of disease, including populations living with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, or physical disabilities.

Can you share with us a story or example of how, by empowering these women, they are shaping and changing their communities for the better?

We interview survivors that work for our Local Partners, and an interview we did recently comes to mind. One survivor artisan, Chari, experienced abject poverty, a husband who was abusive to both her and her children, and a diagnosis of leprosy. Things got so dire that she almost committed suicide, but could not go through with it when she thought of her children.  Now she works as an artisan with our Local Partner, Handwoven with Love, and mentors women who are going through similar experiences that she overcame. It really so amazing how resilient the human spirit is!

Equally, by spending time in foreign countries you’ve been exposed to a lot of situations that we couldn’t ever even imagine. Is there a particular story that sticks out in your mind as being particularly inspiring?

Yes, I often tell the story of the girls I spent time with living in a Mumbai Red Light District.  They were so joyful and in many ways, unaware of their environment.  However, I fear that they are extremely vulnerable to being sexually exploited if their caregivers are not able to get them out of that District.  They ran after my car when I left, which broke my heart.  One of the gals that I especially connected with continues to sit on my computer background and phone background as a reminder of for whom TO THE MARKET is working.

When first establishing TTM did you face any adversity or road blocks along the way? Was it unnerving to make the career change?

It was scary to step out on my own. I came from the policy world and hadn’t worked retail since I was in high school. Providing advice on trends and social media is a far cry from advising on how to engage women in counterterrorism (my original career focus), but then I remind myself that the core of what I do is the same. I am trying to bring about change in the lives of some of the most marginalized populations in the world. It is just a different means to a similar end.

For others who might have a burning desire to set up an initiative to help either those in other countries, or at their back door, what words of encouragement would you give them?

If not you, then who?  You have one life to live and that life is a short one!  Intern or work for an organization doing similar work and interview as many people already working in that space so that you understand as much as possible about the existing gaps in the field.  If you find gaps that overlap with your skill-sets, go and fill that gap!    

What keeps you inspired and passionate about TTM?

The survivors and the founders of our Local Partner organizations keep me inspired.  They are the true heroes.

Sum up your vision for TTM - where do you see it in 2, 5 and 10 years time?

We want to spread the mission of TO THE MARKET by promoting the goods and telling the stories of our survivor artisans. I would love to see us partner with larger retailers to expand the network of people who can support and rally around our socially-inspired business model. In two, five, and ten years, I hope that we have scaled our impact proportionally to the amount of time that we have been in business! 

You clearly wear many hats; CEO of a successful company, advisory board member to various causes, a wife, writer, speaker -- we’re dying to know your secrets to fitting it all in? How do you find balance?

Finding balance is such a personal journey. What balance looks like to me may not be what balance look like to others, which I think is really important to keep in mind to avoid the comparison trap.  Being highly organized has helped me juggle a number of different roles.  I also have conditioned myself over the past fifteen years to be used to a high volume of work, so I am used to the pace. 

I also think that expectation management is invaluable.  For example, if I wanted a healthy work-life balance right now, I wouldn’t have started TO THE MARKET.  Founding a company or non-profit with the aspiration to make it highly impactful means you’ve signed yourself up for years of 7 day, 12+ hour work days.  I knew that before I started TO THE MARKET because I have watched my husband, Nate, scale a company that he founded.  He and I knew what we were both signing up for, so we understand the stress and bandwidth constraints that each other faces.

All of that said, I rely on my faith first and foremost.  It is my source of inspiration and guidance.  After that, my husband and family, as well as my friends, have all been so extraordinarily supportive.  It blows my mind how fortunate I am.  Their support is allowing me to pursue what I believe is my purpose at this time in my life.

10. When you’re aren’t busy with TTM and other organizations, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

If I could live at Disney World, I would. It truly is the happiest place on earth, in my opinion.  Fortunately, my family is just as obsessed as I am (and my husband is slowing getting on board!).   

Describe your journey in three words?

Purposeful, joyful, and exciting!

What’s next on your personal list, is there something you’re just dying to sink your teeth into?

Yes! I am excited to visit some of our partners in East Africa. 

Something we ask everyone we interview on The Brew -- what’s your favourite ‘Brew’ (cold or hot drink of choice) 

I absolutely love coffee. If you look at many of my travel pictures, you can find a coffee cup somewhere near me, regardless of where I am in the world (it’s like Where’s Waldo? Except it’s Where’s Jane’s Coffee Cup?). If I am in my hometown of Lexington, KY, I love a Cup of Commonwealth. If I am in DC or NY, my favorite espresso is from Le Pain Quotidien. If I am overseas, I bring Starbuck’s instant lattes with me and add them to hot water.

DIVIDERTo purchase some of these products visit – To The Market.

UN Zawadi Clutch-White Flowers-iPad  on model