BRAND SPOTLIGHT: THE TOTE PROJECT ~ FASHION FOR FREEDOM
For Mar Gone Wild’s very first brand spotlight I’d like to present The Tote Project. It’s a cause-based, ethical fashion company that sells fair trade, organic tote bags and cotton pouches (I bought one and it’s my new favorite makeup bag) — all handmade in India by survivors of human trafficking.
The Tote Project’s business model paves a path to freedom for women who have made the brave choice to journey out of the sex trade — giving them a second chance and allowing them to #HoldOnToHope.
In addition to providing stable, dignified employment to human trafficking survivors in India, The Tote Project also donates 10% of its gross profits to Two Wings– a nonprofit organization that supports individuals considered at-risk of sex trafficking and also helps survivors of it pursue their dreams.
The Tote Project was started by two best friends, Fay Grant and Michelle Chavez, who share a passion for helping women and making a positive difference in the lives of sex trafficking survivors.
Fay, having gone through a difficult situation herself, was inspired to use her experience to help others in a way that brought positive change into their lives.
Michelle was moved to join the fight against human trafficking after watching the documentary Call+Response, which highlights contemporary human slavery and the movement to end human trafficking in all its forms.
Inspired by empowerment, restoration, and freedom, these two women came together to start what is now The Tote Project.
While their inventory is, of course, adorable (and super high-quality — I was impressed) it’s really Fay and Michelle’s commitment to the brand’s cause that made me fall for The Tote Project.
If I’m honest, when I received my Free to Dream pouch (I obviously had to order the one with an elephant on it) I had completely forgotten about its real purpose. I was just stoked to have a new, super cute compact makeup bag to pack for my move to Africa.
But with every purchase of a tote bag or pouch customers also receive a card that shows the alarming statistics of modern-day human trafficking, including ways that they can to help. It was this touch (and reminder) that really made this brand stand out to me.
What is Human Trafficking?
Polaris defines human trafficking as a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others.
Specifically, human traffickers will use force, fraud, and coercion to control others for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex and/or to provide labor services against their will.
Victims are subject to violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other manipulative tactics to trap them in these horrific situations. And it’s happening every day all over the world– even in our very own more developed communities.
- The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.
- 68% of them are trapped in forced labor.
- 26% of them are children.
- 55% are women and girls.
- The International Labor Organization estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide.
- The U.S. Department of Labor has identified 139 goods from 75 countries made by forced and child labor.
- In 2016, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims.
- It is estimated that more than 4.5 million people are trapped in forced, sexual exploitation worldwide, with 100,000 children estimated to be in the sex trade each year in the U.S. alone.
Free to Bloom.
Free to Dream.
Free to Explore.
Free to Grow.
Free to Imagine.
These are the messages printed on The Tote Project’s pouches and tote bags. They may appear simple upon the first read, but, man, do they carry significant meaning.
To browse their collection of 100% organic cotton canvas products (which range from $20.75 – $29.99) you can visit their online store HERE.
To support The Tote Project’s #HoldOnToHope campaign be sure to follow them on Instagram @TheToteProject.
To learn more about human trafficking, or if you know someone you believe might be a victim of it, visit HumanTraffickingHotline.org.