Mr. Speaker, friends always bring out the best in each other. In the case of Fay Grant and Michelle Chavez, friendship yielded a business idea that would combat a social ill. These best friends have always had a heart for helping others.
Several years ago, Grant had a full-time job as a music editor for Sony. On the side, however, she made tote bags by hand from old fabrics and clothing scraps, which she then sold to raise money to help the victims of human trafficking.
Chavez, a music director for a website at the time, had also taken on roles to help fight human trafficking. She became an active campaigner, attempting to broaden awareness and exposure to fair trade and human trafficking.
The two friends realized that they could do even more by combining forces, so they decided to turn Grant’s bag endeavor into a full- time business, which they named the Tote Project. The main goals of this venture are to give back to others, to promote ethical manufacturing, and to spread awareness of human trafficking.
The business took off, and soon Grant and Chavez were struggling to keep up with an ever-increasing demand for their eye-catching bags, with requests pouring in from not only from America but also from Australia, Germany, Japan, Korea, and several other foreign countries.
Rather than selling these trendy, hip bags for profit, however, the two decided that they would use a portion of the proceeds to help victims of human trafficking. They found a willing partner in Two Wings, an organization that mentors human trafficking victims and helps them achieve their vocational and professional goals.
Ten percent of the profits made by the Tote Project go directly to this organization. The two have gone a step further in providing not only financial assistance to human trafficking victims but also employment and job training.
All of the bags for sale on the company’s website are handmade by women who were either trafficked themselves or have deemed to be at risk of being trafficked. Human trafficking occurs in America and around the globe.
Thousands of people are coerced or kidnapped to be trafficked, and thousands more are living with terrible physical and emotional scars as survivors of trafficking. The Tote Project’s logo features the blue rose, a symbol of achieving the impossible and defying the odds to fight human trafficking.
Mr. Speaker, we need more individuals in the world today like Fay Grant and Michelle Chavez striving to achieve the impossible and end this scourge on humanity once and for all.
And that’s just the way it is.