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Dosha Pops Goes To The Mercado Global Fashion Forward Awards

We at Dosha Pops simply love fashion and New York City certainly has it! From the bi-annual New York Fashion Week to every day street style where the sidewalks act as our own catwalk, you can’t help but notice all the latest trends. Even workout apparel has become more fashion forward.  Among all these fads, do you ever wonder where your favorite brands are sourcing their materials for their collections? Are they ethically sourcing fair trade products? Who are the designers that are making conscious purchasing decisions?

As fashion consumers are becoming more concerned about where and how their clothes are being manufactured, New York City has become home to a very special social enterprise that is tapping into these conscious consumer concerns with helping create a more sustainable fashion industry. Mercado Global is a nonprofit social enterprise that promotes the world’s most rural and economically disadvantaged women’s cooperatives to the U.S. fashion market. Their business model consists of three pillars: Market access, asset development and a community-based education program which helps to break down the cycles of poverty.

Specifically, Mercado Global focuses on artisan women in the Guatemalan highlands helping them create beautiful handmade products, combining modern design with Mayan craftsmanship. Mercado Global creates a place for these artisans to sell their products to markets outside their immediate reach through an online store and by partnering with international retailers like Anthropologie, Calypso St. Barth, and J. Crew. All of Mercado’s sales provide women with fair wages. In addition to selling Mercado Global products and providing access to U.S. markets, they provide low-interest loan options for technology such as sewing machines and looms for the artisans. The donor-funded community-based education programs include classes on women’s leadership, literacy, mental health, family nutrition and entrepreneurship training. As a result, artisan’s daily incomes have tripled for their handmade textiles and mothers are able to send their children to school. Additionally, these women can provide more nutritious food for their families and solve the needs within their communities. As you can see, Mercado Global empowers indigenous women to overcome poverty and become agents of change in their communities. To date, close to 400 artisans in 30 cooperatives across Guatemala have created products that appear in retail stores throughout North America with Mercado Global.

When Mercado Global asked us to participate in their 10th Annual Fashion Forward Gala, we were honored. The Gala was held at the fittingly, fashionable Bowery Hotel. The evening featured cocktails, dinner, a silent auction that we were part of that was accompanied by an Awards Program. This year’s honorees were award-winning author, actress, model, and Emmy nominated Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi along with the Levi Strauss & Co and Levi Strauss Foundation.

Padma received the 2015 Fashion Forward Visionary Award for her advocacy in women and children’s health. She is the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, participant in the United Nations Foundation’s Moms + Social Good campaign, and Global Ambassador for Keep a Child Alive. As you can see, her work with women and children’s health is making a difference for families worldwide. Similar to the Mercado Global business model that recognizes the power of their partner artisans, Padma is a businesswoman and leader who recognizes the power of women to change the course of their lives and the lives of their families. According to Padma, “Women’s voices not being heard is the root of a lot of our problems in the world.”

Daniel Lee, Executive Director of Levi Strauss Foundation, received the 2015 Global Impact Award on behalf of the Company and Foundation. They were chosen for the Impact Award because of their guiding values of courage, empathy, originality, and integrity, which includes pushing the frontiers of social change in communities around the globe. To achieve this goal, the Levi Strauss Foundation partners with innovative non-governmental organizations like Mercado Global that advocate and improve the lives of the most marginalized and stigmatized communities. The Levi Strauss & Co., through the Levi Strauss Foundation, has supported Mercado Global since the beginning and over the last 10 years has invested over $1 million.

The dinner was followed by an afterparty. We were treated to a surprise performance by ASTR, which is a New York City-based electronic duo that makes edgy, experimental, dance-oriented music that blurs the lines between atmospheric pop with soulful R&B. Formed in 2013, ASTR features singer Zoe Silverman and producer Adam Pallin. Not only do they make great music, this dynamic duo actually met sitting alongside each other on mats in a mutual friend’s yoga  class at Jivamukti in New York. Even their name, ASTR, has the meaning of mythology, spirituality, astrology and New York’s Astor Place. All in all, their performance really got the crowd moving.

Chelsea Leyland, “Fashion’s DJ,” kept everyone on the dance floor with her old school beats. My personal favorite song of the night was Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”

Ruth DeGolia & Peggy Andrews (Photo Credit: Kelsey Stanton, BFA)

To the Mercado Global Co-Founder and Executive Director, Ruth DeGolia, we want to thank you for a wonderful night at the Fashion Forward Gala. Your creation of an award-winning social enterprise that empowers indigenous Mayan Women of the Guatemalan highlands by connecting them to an  international market is creating a more sustainable fashion industry. You truly are Newsweek Magazine’s “15 people who make America Great!

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