We wouldn’t be where we are without our hardworking staff. ESPECIALLY our interns! For the next month, we’ve decided to showcase our five interns and the incredible work they do behind the scenes.
We’re ending our intern series with Mariya Khan, our resident intern since we started! Mariya, who graduated in May from The George Washington University, has helped us develop our social media presence. She’s the voice behind our Twitter and Facebook accounts, writes some of our blog posts (such as this intern series!), and attends D.C.-area pop-up events. Her experiences at TO THE MARKET shaped her career aspirations, and she’s excited to see how we will continue to grow.
Why did you apply for an internship at TO THE MARKET?
I thought it was really cool that TO THE MARKET is run by women and helps empower women around the world. I found it interesting that TO THE MARKET shares the stories behind the female artisans and how their products were made, and that really drew me in as a creative writer. The company was just starting out, but I could already see its potential and believed that TO THE MARKET could bring real change. It was also a great opportunity to learn from Jane, who I consider as my mentor, and the different business and humanitarian fields TO THE MARKET interacts with.
Do your activities at TO THE MARKET line up with your future career?
For a while, I didn’t know what my future career would be. Since I studied English, Creative Writing, and Journalism in college, I had a wide range of career options. This internship helped define my career goals. I know that no matter what job I pursue, I want to be involved with anything that uplifts diverse, marginalized voices through storytelling (which can come in many forms). This even applies to my creative writing. 90% of my writings feature female protagonists that quietly or loudly rebel against expectations and pressures from their communities. TO THE MARKET helped me realize how important and impactful storytelling can be. I would love to be an Editor and champion stories about and from marginalized individuals. I’m now Editorial Assistant at National Geographic Books and a reader at a literary magazine, so I’m getting closer to achieving that dream!
What’s your favorite thing about working at TO THE MARKET? What do you love about TO THE MARKET’s mission?
I love that the artisans we collaborate with achieve long-term empowerment and independence through the goods they create. They use the money they earn to start their own businesses and send their children to good schools. Our partners also provide resources like leadership training, mental health services, and healthcare. I’m also really interested in how the products are made and appreciate the traditional artistry and skill of the artisans. For example, to create the paper beads strung together for some of our necklaces and bags, the artisans paint and roll pieces of paper to create one bead! It’s really amazing to see the final products and their traditional designs.
Has your work at TO THE MARKET influenced your interest/knowledge in sustainability and responsible sourcing in fashion? Why do you think it’s important to practice this?
The ethical and sustainable fashion movements weren’t as big when I first started, so it’s great to see how mainstream it is becoming. People are becoming more interested in where our products come from and how they impact the environment, as well as the conditions of the workers. Before, I didn’t really consider the person behind any product I bought, but now I educate myself on the issues that hurt artisans and producers. Jane talks about how we can make a difference in the world through our purchasing power, and I try to follow that as much as I can. Buying a responsibly-sourced shirt from an ethical company instead of a $5 shirt from a fast fashion store like Forever 21 may seem like a small step, but it’s not.
What would you love to see TO THE MARKET do in the next five years?
It’s been crazy to watch TO THE MARKET grow during these past years in ways I couldn’t even imagine, and I would love to see it grow even more! It would be really cool if we had some celebrity endorsements and collaborations to raise awareness on ethical, sustainable, and artisanal fashion. We’ve already begun to collaborate with retail stores like Target, Bloomingdale’s, and Dillards, and I would love to see our products show up in more great stores like Anthropologie and Home Goods.
Have you taken any fun vacations this summer?
It’s not really a vacation, but I attended a creative writing and cultural exchange program at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program! I spent two weeks with writers from India, Pakistan, and the U.S. who all had interesting experiences. It was fun to explore these facets of my identity (I’m American, Pakistani, and Indian) and cultivate my writing in a prolific literary environment like Iowa City. I came away from it with an even bigger passion for everything I do regarding storytelling.
Favorite quote or words to live by?
“If you want to change the world, pick up a pen and write.” – Martin Luther
*Mariya’s t-shirt is from the Dillards GB collection sourced from TO THE MARKET*