May 20, 2020
Have you ever thought about the
story you are telling with the things you bring into your home?
Have you ever thought about what your décor style says about you? I
love seeing how different people’s home décor or personal style
says so much about their personality, culture, history, where
they’ve traveled, and what they hold near and dear to them. My
guest today has combined her passion for travel, culture, and fair
trade into a thriving business that is helping others tell their
stories in a beautiful way. Latoya Tucciarone is the founder and
Sustainable Home Goods. Latoya started
Sustainable Home Goods in 2017 because she truly believes that one
of the best ways to end world poverty is through trade, not aid.
Prior to starting Sustainable, she worked for fair-trade jewelry
company, Noonday Collection (which is no stranger to this
podcast)! During her time with Noonday,
Latoya noticed a rise in ethical shopping for jewelry and clothing,
but very few fair-trade options for the home. She saw a niche and
she wanted to fill it. Sustainable Home Goods can be found online
and at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, GA. Latoya graduated
from Elon University (just down the road from me!), started a
successful photography business, and has traveled all over the
world. She’s also raising four amazing kids with her husband
Andrew. I loved this conversation with Latoya. We could have talked
all day. Sit back, relax, and join me for this great
3:52 - The Latoya 101
- Latoya and her husband are
beautifully busy in Atlanta, GA with their four children, ages 4,
7, 10, and 11. Latoya grew up in southern California, which
fostered her love of being connected to people from all different
- In college Latoya had a chance to
study abroad and live in South Africa for a month. That’s when she
first fell in love with people groups and really realized her love
for the world and for traveling. Between Latoya’s travel and her
husband Andrew’s travel for his production company, the two have
seen more than 50 countries!
- Her experiences traveling also
grew her heart for recognizing the need to engage vulnerable
communities through fair trade in a sustainable way. That means
collaborating with them through trade, not just
- Latoya’s family facilitated
cultural experiences without leaving the house, whether through
music available for the kids to listen to, or art prominently
displayed throughout the house.
8:30 – Trade Not Aid
- Populations that are already
vulnerable are even more so during a crisis like the one we’re in
now with the global Coronavirus pandemic. There are so many
systemic issues that still have to change to protect vulnerable
communities when things are good!
- Latoya and Andrew took their kids
to Guatemala last July so that they could meet the artisans and
understand the process, love, and tradition that goes into handmade
items. The kids don’t think of the artisans as receiving charity,
they see them as talented partners.
Talent is equally distributed,
but opportunity is not. -Leila Janah
- Latoya’s focus is to find talented
people and partner with them so that there is an opportunity for
their unique, handcrafted work to be seen, celebrated, and
purchased! Sustainable Home Goods works hard to create a
story-driven experience to show people how each piece was
- Pieces can be even more treasured
knowing that people have the honor of bringing a unique, special
item into their home.
21:56 - Between Two
- Latoya credits her experience with
Noonday Collection as the first time she really understood how
business can be used for good.
- She loved working with jewelry and
Noonday Collection, but she was drawn to home décor and creating a
warm and inviting space and filling homes for stories. When she
surveyed the retail landscape, she noticed there weren’t as many
options for purchasing ethically for the home like there were for
purchasing ethical fashion.
- Latoya knew she wanted to create a
space for people to shop safely, knowing there was no exploitation
behind the pieces they purchased. She started slowly with basic
e-commerce for a year and a half, followed by a few pop ups shops
and markets. Seeing people pick up products in their hands and
connect with a story made Latoya quickly realize that it was time
to open a brick and mortar.
- She knew there was only one place
she wanted to be. She called the Ponce City Market in Atlanta,
Georgia. The location in “the Hollywood of the South” allows
Sustainable Home Goods to foster even more meaningful conversations
with regular people, celebrities, and scientists about breaking
poverty and violence cycles with jobs, sustainable income, and
- When people visit the store from
other countries, they comment about feeling right at home. Latoya
is well on her way toward a goal of Sustainable Home Goods becoming
“the Whole foods of ethical shopping.”
- Sustainable Home Goods is very
mindful about what they bring into the store, and everything is
carefully hand-picked and curated. Latoya wants to create a special
place for people to shop for modern items while still honoring
36:23 – The Experience of a Black
Woman in Fair Trade
- In the past year or two, Latoya
has seen more black women engaging in the fair-trade industry.
Latoya has had strangers at conferences comment on her looks or
even touch her hair!
- People also go out of their way to
acknowledge her presence. It stands out to Latoya that there are so
few black women in the industry that when they arrive, everyone
notices. It can feel a bit uncomfortable and lonely to say the
- Knowingly or unknowingly, the
industry treads a fine line of perpetuating the image of the white
savior and white people centering themselves.
- When traveling, it’s also hard to
witness people in other cultures acknowledging a purchase from a
white person as having “made it”, equating that metric to success.
It’s not the measure of their worth, and it can be a heartbreaking
- Latoya and Noonday Collections
worked on ways to shift the narrative to use ethnic models and do
photoshoots on location where artisans live. It’s important for
artisans to see their own people wearing and using their
- Seeing people reconnecting to
their own heritage through the artisan items is very encouraging
and special, especially knowing that connection can also support
the artisans around the world who share that same
- The more businesses that follow
ethical business practices, the more people are seeing that it’s
just a good way to do business, no matter your race. As the
industry grows, Latoya’s hope is that we will organically see
diversity in the industry grow as well.
- You can have good intentions, but
if your impact is negative, it’s important to recognize it and
change. When we know better, we do better (Maya
- It’s most important to be in real
relationship with people different from us. That’s the best way to
learn how to be mindful about how we treat each other, rather than
coming in with preconceived notions from something we’ve read in a
- Being in close relationship is
disarming. Being open with each other is the way we were created to
56:11 – Getting to Know Our
- Find out what Latoya is learning
about herself during Covid-19 (oooh, it’s good stuff), her most
unusual talents, who she would choose to play her in a movie about
her life, what makes her feel most alive, and of course, what it
means to her to run a business with purpose.
18:00 - There are brilliant
artists coming out of Africa and telling their story. You just
never hear about modern art coming out of Africa. So how do we
change that narrative?
22:52 - You’re kind of left with
those two tensions ... This is a way to live in that love of
culture while also being able to engage in ending the poverty and
suffering that you’re seeing.
42:20 - We can be connected to
our heritage and our people through fair trade and purchasing items
that are helping our brothers and sisters all over the world…That’s
the narrative that I’m working on: be connected to who you are and
50:45 - Be mindful of being
culturally respectful, but in the context of relationship. I think
sometimes people want to skip over the relational part and just be
able to say what they want to say and do what they think is best.
There’s some work to be done. Just love someone who’s different
51:27 - Relationships are just
so, so important. Before you get on twitter and start spouting
about something, or get on Facebook and spouting about something,
or putting a sign in your yard, just stop and say, ‘Am I loving and
am I in relationship with people who are different than me?’ And if
not, then that’s your first step. Go and love and be with people
who are different.
ABOUT LATOYA TUCCIARONE:
LaToya Tucciarone is the Founder and Owner of
SustainAble Home Goods. She started SustainAble in 2017 because She
truly believes that one of the best ways to end world poverty is
through trade not aid.
Previous to starting SustainAble, She worked
for fair trade jewelry company Noonday Collection. Getting to work
with that amazing company really set her on this journey. During
her time time with Noonday, she noticed a rise in ethical shopping
for jewelry and clothing but very few fair trade options for the
home. She saw a niche and wanted to fill it. SustainAble Home Goods
can be found at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia.
LaToya is a graduate of Elon University, started a successful
photography business, has traveled all over the world and somewhere
along the line is raising 4 absolutely amazing kids with her
Connect with SustainAble Home Goods:
Thank you to our sponsor of this week's episode:
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