Lauren Conrad Reflects on 10 Years of Her Nonprofit Shop The Little Market: 'I'm So Proud'

"We started out so small, so to see what it's become is really exciting," Lauren Conrad told PEOPLE at The Little Market's summer event in Santa Monica, California, on Friday

Lauren Conrad
Lauren Conrad. Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty

When Lauren Conrad and her college friend Hannah Skvarla first came up with the idea for their nonprofit The Little Market nearly 10 years ago, they never could have imagined the success it'd become.

Since its inception in 2013 The Little Market (which has a digital shop and Los Angeles-based storefront) has worked closely with Fair Trade artisan groups and social enterprises around the globe to source ethical, sustainable gifts, accessories and home décor. Now it's celebrating a milestone of one million dignified hours of work created for artisans.

"It's wild to think it's been 10 years," Conrad told PEOPLE at The Little Market's summer event in Santa Monica, California, on Friday. "I'm so proud of the work we've been able to do and the community that's really formed around The Little Market. We started out so small, so to see what it's become is really exciting."

At the event on Friday, which was sponsored by Zacapa No. 23 Rum, Skvarla added that she and Conrad, 35, were "really excited about the opportunity to bring out community together in person safely."

"It's really our community of supporters who have allowed The Little Market to be successful, even during a pandemic," she said. "The makers we work with are all in vulnerable communities who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, so making sure that they have sustainable income is more important than ever. We really wanted to have this opportunity to thank our community of supporters."

Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla
Lauren Conrad and Hannah Skvarla. Stefanie Keenan/Getty

All of the products sold through The Little Market have been sourced by Skvarla and Conrad from artisans in underserved communities, including refugees and resettled individuals, people with disabilities, young mothers, survivors of sex trafficking and individuals living in extreme poverty.

"One the things we do at The Little Market is we offer to pay for product upfront and in full," Skvarla said. "A lot of artists that we work with don't have other stores purchasing from them, so we're really grateful to be able to do that because of the support of this community. This non-profit wouldn't exist without the support of all these amazing people."

Jordana Brewster
Jordana Brewster. Stefanie Keenan/Getty

Also in attendance at the event on Friday was Cara Santana and Jordana Brewster, who both gave speeches about their involvement in The Little Market. As to what she loves most about The Little Market, Brewster, 41, said that it's the nonprofit's "tangibility and transparency."

"They're doing something amazing, and it's women helping women," she shared. "So it just made so much sense to me, and I've also developed a community through it. So it's just been something really wonderful to be a part of."

Through this past year Conrad said she's been thankful to have friends like Skvarla and Brewster by her side.

"I think in their own way, everyone was going through something," she said. "And the support that I saw between all of my friends was really amazing. It was understanding who needed it most and making sure people were checking in. It was the little things. It was like dropping off things at people's doorsteps. They didn't hesitate to remind people how important they were to each other, and that was really nice."

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