Latitudes is a fair-trade nonprofit organization that partners with artisans throughout the Global South to extend freedom through business. By removing obstacles barring safe employment and education, Latitudes is able to create financial opportunity and stability for marginalized individuals and communities.

Executive Director Mark Latham said the name of the business has a twofold meaning.

“One of [the meanings is] the geographical reference of locations around the world, but to give someone latitude is to remove obstacles and give them freedom,” Mark Latham said. “Our goal with the naming of the business and with everything we do is to remove obstacles that are in the way of someone that may be marginalized, oppressed, or limited in their options for either safe employment, education, or even just the right to work within their community.

Latitudes exists to provide a genuine business outlet to artisans in isolated areas of the world. The business desires to have a positive impact in the artisans’ families and communities through micro-business enterprises. Latitudes helps create and encourage an environment of support by giving these artisans a market to sell their products. In addition to buying products, Latitudes offers training in business management, assistance with product development, and they provide basic education for workers and their families, where possible.

Director of Sales and Marketing Amy Latham said these individuals are often women who have been rescued from human trafficking or people who have been marginalized by disability or disease.

In 2012, Latitudes supported two micro business projects in the Global South. Now, the business supports 23 micro businesses across the world.

The products from these businesses can be seen in Latitudes’ showroom at 2325 E Southlake Blvd., Southlake, where residents can purchase goods to support these artisans across the world.

Amy said oftentimes, the opportunity to start their own business is the first chance an individual has had to receive education or learn a skill. In addition to serving as a unique retail experience, Amy said she also wants the showroom to educate customers about the world.

“[The showroom is] a place where people can touch and feel products that are made by real people who found themselves in circumstances beyond their control,” she said. “[Customers] can also be educated as they come in about the fact that children are being sold as slaves and women are being trafficked or marginalized, and unfortunately that is a common and expected reality in many parts of the global south.”

To stay true to its nonprofit mission, Latitudes pays the artisans it collaborates with as soon as they make their products, rather than them having to wait for them to sell. The nonprofit can even give artisans up to 50% of their payment upfront to make sure they have enough money to get raw materials and carry them through the production cycle.

Latitudes purchases the goods sight unseen and then sells the products in its Southlake showroom with a mark up to account for shipping, duties, and some operational costs, but the organization does not make a profit off of the goods.

“We've had a number of customers through the years tell us we need to raise our prices to make more money, but our goal is to sell as much as we can so that we can employ as many people as we can and not try and make it into a profit-first or profit-oriented enterprise,” Mark said. “Our goal is to reach as many people and employ as many people as possible through this process and create stability.”

For Amy and Mark, Latitudes’ mission is personal.

“We know the artisans’ names and we’ve had conversations and meals with them,” Mark said. “They make a difference and have affected who we are and what we spend our time and money on.”

To help support Latitudes’ mission, businesses and individuals can sponsor the nonprofit in many unique ways. One upcoming way to help is by participating in or being a sponsor of Latitudes’ fourth annual golf tournament on Sept. 30 at Timarron Country Club in Southlake where community members can play golf, eat dinner, attend a small presentation and make purchases from a variety of artisan goods.

Mark said the tournament is a great opportunity for Latitudes to connect with the community and for individuals to learn more about the nonprofit.

Ultimately, Latitudes is bringing the globe to Southlake, and individuals who shop at the showroom know they’re making a positive difference with their money.

“You are truly impacting real people and real lives,” Amy said. “By purchasing your gifts and goods here, you really can make a difference and be a part of what we're doing around the world.”

Ready to make a positive impact? Come check out the Latitudes showroom and invite friends and family to come along. Learn more about Latitudes at Those who aren’t local can make a donation or visit the web store. All online products will indicate the country of origin and most products also have live links to the associated product team pages that include stories, photos and videos.

The above story was produced by Senior Multi Platform Journalist Summer El-Shahawy with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of its "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.