Lauren Conrad's Latest Project Is Not Only Cool - It's For a Great Cause

11/20/2013 at 01:16 PM ET

Lauren Conrad the little marketCourtesy The Little Market

It’s hard to believe that between her blog, her Kohl’s line, planning a wedding and her world travel, Lauren Conrad would have the time for yet another project — but when the project is this worthy, it’s worth it. And as it turns out, those global travels served as the inspiration for The Little Market, an e-commerce site started with her best friend Hannah Skvarla (above right) designed to bring attention to handmade products created by female artisans across the globe.

“While traveling abroad we met women artisans who were trying to support themselves and their families. Without access to a global marketplace they were not receiving living wages for their handmade goods despite their extraordinary skills,” Conrad and Skvarla tell PEOPLE in an email. “We created The Little Market to give these women a place to sell their exquisite products at prices that allow them to support their families with food, shelter, education and healthcare.”

Lauren Conrad the little marketCourtesy The Little Market

The pals have been circling the globe having amazing experiences (remember Conrad’s pink hair from celebrating Holi in India?) and handpicking artisans (with help from fair trade nonprofit Global Goods Partners) to feature on their site. These women are then paid a living wage for their handmade products, allowing them to feed their families and send their children to school where they might otherwise have been struggling. “The Little Market helps artisans help themselves,” Conrad and Skvarla say. “A gift from The Little Market supports an artisan, provides services for a community, and shares the message of sustainability with your friends and family.”

And because these two stylish women are behind the site, it’s hard to decide what to buy first — it’s all adorable. From scarves to baby goods, home decor to gorgeous glassware, the well-priced items are all pieces you’d love to give as gifts (and maybe add a few things to your cart for yourself. It’s for a good cause, after all!).

PHOTOS: What our PEOPLE StyleWatch Style Council is buying right this minute!

Lauren Conrad the little marketCourtesy The Little Market

Can’t begin to choose? Conrad and Skvarla picked two of their favorite pieces on the site right now to help you narrow it down. On the left is the Alpaca scarf (also modeled on Skvarla, above), handmade in Bolivia and available in five hand-dyed colors for $100. “We love this scarf because it is really cozy. What’s more, the alpaca fiber is a renewable resource … and [your purchase] supports community centers in poor, isolated areas of Bolivia’s highlands,” the girls say. “A giant scarf is a staple in our wardrobes. We always travel with a big scarf in our carry-on bags to keep us warm on the plane. In cool weather the alpaca will keep you warm and in warm weather it breathes.”

At right, another of their favorites — the white rose pillowcase, hand-felted and stitched by women in Nepal and available for $48. “Last March we visited Nepal to meet the artisans of Friends Handicrafts, a group of 80 women … that provides training, employment and access to education in one of the poorest nations in the world. Throughout the country’s marketplaces and monasteries we were inspired by the presence of vibrant flowers to develop a design that would bring the beauty of Nepal into your home,” say Conrad and Skvarla. “We love this pillow tossed on a bed or a couch mixed in with throw pillows. The neutral colors and elegant design of each one-of-a-kind, hand-made pillowcase make it easy to incorporate into any room of any style home.”

Have you checked out The Little Market yet? What’s top of your wishlist? And seriously, how cool are these ladies? Tell us your thoughts below.

–Alex Apatoff

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Showing 5 comments

jen on

I wonder how much of that money is actually getting to those women and how much Conrad and Skvarla are keeping… they’re probably keeping most of it.

StyleWatch on

That’s a good question, Jen, so we checked out the site — here’s how they pay and support the artisans! http://www.thelittlemarket.com/about/values/

cz on

$100 is too expensive for a scarf.

karen on

I went to this site thinking maybe I would order a couple gifts or something. It being for a good cause was why I was interested. There’s not one thing on the site that comes close to being reasonably priced for my budget. Guess it’s just for rich people and their fellow celebrity friends. Best of luck to the women and families they’re helping.

leslie satter on

I usually donate to good causes in honor of my family and friends instead of buying yet another gift for someone who doesn’t really need anything, but I just did some shopping here because (1) I love that some of these items do look homemade, and (2) I do believe the money is going to the people making the items. The items aren’t cheap, but they are beautiful and I feel like I’m helping these women do a good thing. Helping people to help themselves – good values.

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