In creating Mercado Global, Ruth DeGolia partnered with Mayan artisans and American businesses to build a company that elevates local crafts to a marketable and thoughtful commodity.
“We are a brand and organization defined by the power of partnership: we look to the culture and craftsmanship of our partner communities for inspiration.”
Mercado Global came into being after a trip to Latin America awakened Ruth DeGolia to the needs of the developing world. She wanted to “help preserve traditional Mayan craftsmanship” and sought out partnerships that would support the Mayan’s “artistic and cultural innovation”, “build them up as businesswomen” and “give our sales partners the opportunity to source cutting-edge, inspired product that has an extraordinary social impact.”
Ruth considers herself lucky. In building and sustaining Mercado Global, she sees herself as someone who has been able to follow her “passion 100% of the time,” even while she “dropped everything to build a new type of social enterprise.” However, she makes sure to acknowledge the team effort it required. As Ruth says, “we are successful because a lot of amazing people have invested a lot of blood, sweat, tears and brilliance into making our model for social change successful.” She counts among them, “our staff, donors, artisans, sales partners, board members, customers, and general community of cheerleaders.”
The company now boasts 400 artisans in 30 communities across Guatemala and sells their wares all over North America. The beautiful designs are key to attracting customers, the most successful being “the products that best combine Mayan craftsmanship with modern design." In support of this, Ruth ensures the products hew closely to Mercado Global’s core values of, “Partnership, Authenticity and Respect.” She believes, “When it comes to product design, the process and strategies that are going to be most successful in building a market for our partner artisans are also the processes and strategies that best reflect our core values.” Because, in the end, Ruth understands that helping the community best requires “building a serious, financially viable business."