Shop local. Those two words have never meant more than over the recent past and present years. The pandemic has forced small businesses all over the world to close their doors for good. And with the focus now on online sales, customers are combing through more small businesses, wanting to help keep them afloat. It goes without saying that shopping local means supporting dreams. Supporting families. Supporting the fabric that ties economies together.
In our desire to highlight small businesses who give back to society, who have social consciences weaved into their very fibre, we sat down with Isabel Stigge, the founder of Little by Little, to learn more about her pursuit to keep families together in Haiti.
No parent wants to relinquish their children to an orphanage. Poverty robs them of choice. At Little by Little, employment is provided to Haitian parents living in poverty, empowering them to care for their families. Your purchases empower parents in Haiti to provide for their children.
Here are four questions that we hope helps you get to know Little by Little a little better.
Why did you decide to be a socially conscience business. Why did you choose the cause of keeping Hatian families together?
I never expected to be a business owner. After a trip to Haiti in 2009 to work at an Orphanage, my daughter and I were so gripped by the poverty that we wanted to go back the following year. We of course had no idea that we would end up being caught in the tragic earthquake that crumbled Haiti in 2010. I was trapped in the country for 5 long days after the earthquake devastated the country, thankfully we and the team we were with were able to use our hands and feet to help those who were suffering from trauma to the best of our abilities. Finally, we were evacuated out on a military plane and our lives were never the same again.
“80% of children worldwide in Orphanages are not orphans, they are there due to poverty“
Can you tell us a little bit about your story?
I continued to travel back to Haiti to help at the Orphanage and after getting to know the children I began to find out that many of the kids had family in the villages. I always thought the term orphan meant, no parents. So this led me on a journey to educate myself. I was shocked to realize that 80% of children worldwide in Orphanages are not orphans at all. They are there due to poverty, and that broke my heart. That is when I decided something needed to be done to help these mamas make an income so they could keep their babies at home, where they belong.
The process of helping families:
How did you refocus your business in 2020 and what are you looking forward to in 2021
2020 has been hard, but pre-2020, Haiti had been going through political unrest that already included many lockdowns, so I almost feel like we were a bit prepared. Due to Haiti’s instability, I tend to stock up on materials, so the problem was not with providing work in Haiti, but with selling their products here in Canada. We do a lot of our sales at festivals so we have been hit hard that way with everything being canceled. Refocus for 2021 includes more of a focus on online sales and wholesale. By the end of 2021, we are hoping to be bringing the Haiti Mama subscription box to Canada. It a beautiful way to regularly support hard-working Haitian women, keep those babies out of orphanages and with their families, and get amazing products from Haiti.
“…so she bought herself a set of front teeth“
Can you share your most memorable moment for Little by Little
By far my most memorable moment has been when one of the women we work with. She had already been able to purchase a home, feed, and educate her family, so she bought herself a set of front teeth that she had lost years ago. It was such a picture of personal dignity that had been developed in her over time, it was so beautiful.