It’s World Changer Wednesday and I am excited to introduce Redemption Market and it’s owner, Rhonda LaBatt. I love to share new finds, especially when it’s people or businesses who are out to change the world. Redemption Market is one of these world changers.
LaBatt, owner and operator of Redemption Market, began this business with her three teenage daughters in 2013. Her goal was to take what was intended for evil and to turn it around for good.
“I started this business in response to a plea from a group of women in Cambodia, who, having been rescued from sex-trafficking, were now looking for a place to sell the handbags they made in their rehabilitation program,” she says.
LaBatt originally heard about this group of women in an online advertisement. They were seeking ambassadors in the United States to carry their products and share their message.
“After seeing the beauty of the pieces, and how easy they were to sell, I decided to expand to a regular business,” says LaBatt.
Redemption Market now works with 20 distinct artisan groups, each providing opportunities for those who were living in great darkness, whether trafficking, slavery, unclean water or abject poverty. She focuses on finding and selling unique items sourced from around the world, including block-printed handbags from India, hand carved, wooden dishes from Kenya, and woven blankets from Mexico.
“We are committed to natural, organic, and sustainable product,” says LaBatt, “and to giving back, here in our community and state.”
When Your Business Matters
Running a small business can be a lot of work, but LaBatt is undeterred. She recalls receiving framed photos from some of the artisans, as a thank you from two years of partnership, and how that was such a meaningful gift in honor of their partnership.
“The [picture was of the] group on an outing, seated together at the shore of a river, laughing and having a great time,” she recalls. “I held that photo in my hands and just cried.”
She says, that even though it feels too small to her, she knows that what she is doing matters and is making a difference to those brothers and sisters. “I can’t forget these are real human lives we’re impacting.”
She is continually motivated and inspired by the artisans and their stories. She says it’s the thing that keeps her going on hard days. “Dealing directly with the artisans, and not having to work through distributors,…we have the benefit of hearing the stories and seeing the faces.”
When Redemption Market places and order with a group, the artisans are already being paid fair wages. This social enterprise model, allows them to offer high-quality products at a lower cost to the customer, and to have the greatest impact on the artisans themselves.
Benefits at Home
In addition, LaBatt describes how this venture has benefited her family. Her three teenage daughters help with everything from selling at the farmers market to updating the social media accounts. “It’s beautiful to see how their eyes have been opened to social justice, and how their hearts are so tender to those in need.”
LaBatt says, she believes that launching this business was the best thing she could do to show them faith in action.
Dreams of the Future
Aside from dreaming of increased sales volume so she would be able to help more people and discover new artisan groups, she also dreams of helping other social entrepreneurs get their own start.
“I would love to put together an easy-to-follow guide for other women who would like to start a social enterprise, outlining the steps to starting your own business,” she says. “So much can be gained through a spirit of collaboration, and I think it’s great to share the wisdom we gain along the way.”
For the other women out there dreaming of ways they, too, can change the world, she offers the wisdom of experience.
“I started my business alone as a woman, and as a mom of teenagers. I want to encourage other women and other moms not to fear being entrepreneurs and small business owners. Take one step at a time, and before you know it, you will have an amazing business that is helping people around the world!” LaBatt says. “Also, I encourage you to just give up on the comparison game. There will always be people with more than you and also with less than you. There will be people farther along on their businesses and those who are just starting. Find the beauty in your own path and journey. You are already enough!”
Redemption Market is a Phoenix, Arizona-based business, owned and operated by Rhonda LaBatt. It is open each Saturday at the Phoenix Public Market, as well as always online at redemptionmarket.com.