If you were to pluck co-founders from a crowd, Monica Peraza O’Quigley and Sydney Sherman would not make an obvious duo. But when O’Quigley, a mother of four who was then running the online importing business Alegreea, sat down at an Austin coffee shop in early 2019 to meet with Sherman, a 28-year-old traveler who splits her time between Guatemala and New York City, both felt it was kismet.
“There was an incredible connection,” says O’Quigley, “and within the first 15 minutes, we said: Let’s do this together,” this being the ambitious goal of raising the incomes of women in developing countries by creating an online marketplace to connect them directly to conscious consumers in wealthier markets. The Etho, launched last August in Austin, features hundreds of items—jute-rope coasters, radish-root body creams, shoes hand-embroidered in a traditional Palestinian style—whose sales benefit 4,500 female business owners and their employees.
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May - June 2020