Social innovator Ruth DeGolia brings her story home to the Heights on March 11

You may wonder what the label Mercado Global is in a garment you have bought from Anthropologie, J. Crew or Urban Outfitters. 

On March 11 you can find out about this ethical fashion brand and social enterprise at a fundraiser called, Fashioning Change: Harnessing the Power of Markets for Women in Guatemala. It will be held from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at The Wine Spot, 2271 Lee Road. Proceeds will support Mercado Global’s educational and market access programs.

Cleveland Heights native Ruth DeGolia, Mercado Global's founder and executive director, will be on hand to share stories from this innovative nonprofit that connects indigenous women artisans in Guatemala to major international retailers. She was featured on the cover of Newsweek as one of “15 People Who Make America Great.”

DeGolia visited Guatemala as a Yale University student. She witnessed firsthand the poverty that women in Guatemala face. She also saw their talent and potential, and realized that connecting them to an international market could give them unprecedented economic opportunities.

DeGolia founded Mercado Global in 2004. Her pioneering approach connects poor, rural women in Guatemala to international markets with the goal of providing sustainable livelihoods for their families. Working with artisans as business partners and providing market access and business development support, each Mercado Global piece is instilled with the brand’s core values of craftsmanship and partnership.

Today, Mercado Global works with a network of more than 300 women weavers and sewers living in more than 30 communities throughout the highlands of Guatemala. Retail partners also include international lifestyle brands such as Comptoir des Cotonniers and Free People.

The event will feature the brand’s latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection that will be in J. Crew stores nationwide this spring.

With this visit, DeGolia hopes to bring to Northeast Ohio stories of empowerment and hope from these women artisans. "Together with the artisans,” DeGolia said, “we have made incredible progress both in our reach as an ethical fashion brand and in bringing opportunities to communities in the highlands. Whether it is partnering with new retailers like J. Crew, expanding our community-based health and leadership programs, or providing vital training to more artisans, I'm thrilled to celebrate these achievements with the Cleveland community, some of Mercado Global's earliest supporters."

Mercado Global’s model has been recognized by National Public Radio, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Huffington Post and the United Nations. DeGolia has been selected as an “Architect of the Future” by Austria’s Waldzell Institute, has received the Do Something Foundation’s BRICK Award for “Young People Who Change the World," and was named among the “World’s Best Emerging Social Entrepreneurs” by Echoing Green.

Tickets are $35 and include wine, appetizers and words from DeGolia. The evening also will feature local physicians, Dr. Mori Morikawa and Dr. Aaron Lear, who have played key roles in the organization’s community health initiatives, and Cleveland Heights resident Melody Hart, who is a Mercado Global board member and co-chair of the host committee.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.mercadoglobal.org/fashioningchange or by e-mailing community@mercadoglobal.org.

Molly Burns

Molly Burns is the community outreach coordinator at Mercado Global.

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Volume 8, Issue 3, Posted 2:31 PM, 02.26.2015