It was such a treat to sit down with humanitarian and entrepreneur, LaToya Tucciarone, Founder of SustainAble Home Goods and Accessories and hear her story.
When faced with the realization that there was a global need for the safety and welfare of individuals in struggling communities globally, LaToya jumped in to become part of the solution.
tell us about the passion behind Sustainable.
“I worked with a fair trade jewelry company called Noonday Collection where I saw for the first time how a business can really be used for the good of everyone.
I saw that it was good for local entrepreneurs to empower their own community. I also saw the good that it did for our customers because they were getting to have this beautiful jewelry that was handmade. And then I saw the good that I was personally doing with my business.
I think we are all looking to do something meaningful in our lives so to be able to create a business that centers around having an impact in the world was huge.”
talk some about places that challenged you.
“In another life I’m a photographer and my husband does video. We had a chance to go to a village in Guatemala to document some work being done with an orphanage there. A huge problem in Guatemala is that there are a lot of young girls who are getting pregnant and many times are actually arrested for being under age. This orphanage will come and rescue the girls, let them stay with their babies and actually raise the girls in the context of a family.
It’s a really really beautiful organization.
What we saw all over Guatemala was an extremely high unemployment rate which left men who were bored and often drinking out of shame for not being able to provide for their family and provide for themselves. So you have that dynamic and then you have the dynamic we saw when we were taken to a village to see where that whole cycle starts. We went to this particular home where there was a five year old girl who had been left at home by herself to watch her three year old brother and two year old sister while her mom went into town to work. The single mom had no job opportunities in this little sleepy village, so how else was she going to provide for her children? She had to leave them in order to provide. So when you have this combination of bored men lying around drunk and young girls in particular left home alone so that mom can go and work it just creates this cycle of sexual abuse and violence and children being born out of wedlock and all the things. It was a stark visual picture to me of the importance of job creation within vulnerable communities.
Creating jobs especially for women so they can stay at home with their children is called Cottage Industry. Much craft culture is born out of Cottage Industry. So how do you create craft oriented jobs that allow moms to stay at home?
Meeting that little girl, taking her portrait, seeing what the cycle of unemployment can do to an entire community kind of propelled me into saying, ‘Okay. We need to create some kind of business and structure around what will create jobs, empower communities, empower women’ and thus, Sustainable was born!”
tell us a little about people who have inspired you.
“I think it is really powerful when we partner with artisan groups. There is a co-op we partner with in Guatemala, in San Juan La Laguna, which is female run and owned. Just hearing Maria and Shayla talk about how our purchase will sustain this community of 33 families for a month is simultaneously encouraging that people can have such a huge impact for such a low dollar amount and heartbreaking that there isn’t more of this going on.
You just think, does world poverty even have to be a thing if really it takes so little to make such a huge impact.
We love just being able to be a platform for people to have real impact in a very simple, practical, fun way. We’re all going to buy things for our homes, that is something that is so important to us, so we might as well buy something that is doing good in the world and we might as well buy things that connect us to our larger, global community. We might as well bring those beautiful stories into our home to share those with our friends and family so we love that we have created a space for people to do that.”
you can make a difference.
To take a virtual walk through Sustainable Homegoods and Accessories where you will see beautiful artisan products and read about the talented artists, visit their online store here.