Mark Latham runs Latitudes with his wife at Grapevine. (Sandra Sadek / Community Impact Journal)
Mark Latham’s goal is to help change the way people shop with his non-profit Latitudes Handmade Fair Trade products. The 501 (c) 3 organization offers artisans in developing countries the opportunity to sell their crafts while helping them become financially independent.
“You can just tell the authenticity that we have based on the products they can see. So it’s a labor of love, ”Latham said.
During the last nine years since the start of the association, Latham has worked with its teams in Morocco, Uganda, Republic of Georgia, Jordan, Nepal, Kurdistan, India, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and more recently Papua New Guinea to source handicrafts. the creation of communities often rejected for their handicap or their lack of resources.
Latitudes emphasizes the people it employs, ensuring that none of its partners employ slaves or children.
“We want them to say, ‘You have the ability, even if you have no education, to create something beautiful,'” said Latham. “We want to erase this stigma of what they can and cannot do, based on their own abilities, and not what someone else can say or do.”
Latitudes’ partnerships in these countries also help create financially independent and stable communities. Artisans who work with the nonprofit, mostly women, learn to give back to their community.
“In some parts of India we have people who will help fund a water well. And so from a community perspective, it’s the working women who have the capacity to give back and give their community a water well, ”said Latham. “So it gives them a sense of honor to be able to help their own community. “
Running such an organization has not been easy, Latham said. Latitudes is funded entirely by donations, a method that prevents the cost of the sale from falling on the artisans.
“The principle is that we will raise funds to do this type of work so that our selling costs are not blamed on the artisans. And I can sell as much as I want and I don’t make more money than if I didn’t sell anything, ”he said. “It’s all based on my ability to engage people and raise funds to cover and support the work we do. “
While Latitudes’ mission has brought positive changes to the communities it works with, its impact is also being felt in the United States. Through social media, the organization strives to raise awareness and has received support and donations from across the country.
“Most people are happy that their purchase is going to something bigger than just [an] element, whether it’s helping a community, a family or an individual, ”Latham said.
Handmade Latitudes Fairtrade Products
351 E. Hudgins Street, Grapevine.