Wednesday, January 28, 2015

As Human Trafficking Awareness Month Comes to a Close...

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Women's Blue Loose Fitted Top || c/o Elegantees
Ethically sourced, ethically produced by survivors of sex slavery
*Congrats to Anna Malika's new line with Elegantees! xoxo, Girly!*
Studded Denim Shorts || Upcycled
Previously jeans found from the Salvation Army which I cut, bleached, dip dyed, and studded into shorts with my BFF. Total Time: 8 hours
Bracelet Stack || Including Purpose Jewelry and Relevee Jewelry
Made by survivors of sex slavery in India
White Low Tops || c/o Keds Brave Life
Won these as a part of the Keds Brave Life Project


As human trafficking awareness month ends, I have been intentionally pondering on the concept of freedom. Really, what does it mean to be free? To me freedom is not only physical, emotional, and geographic, but spiritual as well (I need most progress in this arena). I have been so surprisingly blessed to have been able to travel to many countries the past 6 years. Each time I return, I realize how blessed I am to live free in America. What I find to be a basic necessity, millions of people on this 7 billion people planet do not even have. Thinking in the perspective of human trafficking on a global scale, it is hard to believe that human trafficking exists in every country, including America. Sometimes it is hard for me to accept the reality of human trafficking because the trade of humans is not only unfathomable and socially invisible, but it seems like such a distant situation from the life I have been blessed to be raised in. I think that knowing this pushes me to do something for the millions who have not had this opportunity.

So you may be asking yourself, "What can I really do that will even make a dent in this problem?" What can you and I do that will tangibly make an impact on the millions of people that are living a life that is not their own? I asked myself this regularly. Below is my reflection/suggestion to answering this question.

 I can inform myself on the signs of human trafficking and be aware of the red flags so that I can be prepared if I see anything.  I can sign petitions and send letters to my government representatives to help pass laws in favor of protecting victims and punishing pimps. I can decide to make fashion purchases (choices) that support the economic empowerment of survivors of human trafficking, like the top from Elegantees that I am wearing in this post. I can attend local human trafficking awareness events, volunteer for anti-trafficking organizations and even begin events. I can join online campaigns to raise funds and awareness with other fashion bloggers, like DRESSember this past December (this year I led a link-up).

Each of these steps either touches upon the prevention, rescue, recovery, prosecution of pimps, and/or economic empowerment for victims and survivors of human trafficking. Your contribution to help end human trafficking does not have to be huge, like directing an entire organization. Even if you aren't directly working with victims or survivors, you are making a difference with these steps. Never forget that you as an individual can make a difference.


"I know us as individuals may seem
small and insignificant, but it's not about 
how small we are, it's about 
how big we think we can change the world."

-Vivienne Harr, then 9 years old


Back in 2014 I wrote a piece on Vivienne Harr and her Make A Stand lemonade. This little girl learned about human trafficking and decided she wanted to do something, so she started a lemonade stand. Just a  few years later, Make A Stand is an ethically produced lemonade business which has raised over $111,000 to help these human trafficking abolition organizations continue their freedom work. The actions of this little girl have shown me that it doesn't take a phD to make a difference in this world, you just need a heart for freedom and a determined mindset. Let's go forward with this in our minds and hearts.



Never Allow Circumstances Blind You from Truth,
Christine



For More Resources on Human Trafficking Visit:
Polaris Project: D.C. Fellowship Program
International Justice Mission: Make a Difference on Campus

Don't forget to join me on Instagram & Facebook!

Friday, January 23, 2015

PUNJAMMIES™ Takeover in Cuenca!

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Welcome to Cuenca! These pictures are from a few weeks ago when I whizzed away on a weekend getaway with Michelle and friends. When we saw this awesome scenery, Michelle and I both thought out loud, "Let's do a photoshoot in our PUNJAMMIES™!" And so, we pulled out our PUNJAMMIES™ and cavorted about the acreage!

Have you heard about PUNJAMMIES™ before? They are lougewear made by International Princess Project (IPP). Each PUNJAMMIES™ is created in one of their four partner sewing centers in India. Each of these centers are part of a program which provide survivors of sex slavery employment and support. When I first learned about IPP, I fell in love with the mission and heart for Jesus Christ behind this company. I actually liked it so much that I ended up interning for them. I actually flew across the country and interned at their California headquarters for six months. It was such a blessed learning experience. If you are in the market for cute, comfy women's lougewear and pajamas, be sure to check out International Priness Project! ;)

This January is human trafficking awareness month. In every moment 30 million people (women, men, and children) are trapped in human trafficking. To learn more about human trafficking and how you can help make a difference, read more at International Justice Mission.

And now for some soul food...


Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. 
A man reaps what he sows.Whoever sows to
please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction;
whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the
proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all people, especially to those
who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6: 7-11


Flowers and Daisies,
Christine

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interview with 4 All Humanity: Sustainably Produced, Transparent & Fair Trade

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"Smart is Beautiful" Organic Cotton tshirt || c/o 4 All Humanity
Sustainably sourced and produced, fair trade, made in the USA, provides one month of schooling to Haitian orphan
Forest Green Stretch Cigarette Pants || AG Jeans
Eco-conscious textiles, made in the USA
Low Cut kicks, Bajo Gato Blanco || c/o Mipacha
Sustianably and ethically sourced and handmade in Cuzco, Peru


What a view! Michelle and I had the opportunity to visit the Ruinas Ingapircas the other day. It was so cool to see all of the different structures. I decided to do my photoshoot for 4 All Humanity there because remembering the history of people reminded me of the importance of the history of our clothes.  The people and places that make up the threads that clothe our society are so easily forgotten.

I am excited to interview the founder of 4 All Humanity today, not only because I love interviewing people that do things that help our society prosper in a positive way, but this brand is one of my favorites! It is also super cool that the founders are a married couple. Now, may I introduce to you a cute and trendy women's fair trade clothing company with sustainable, transparent, and ethical sourcing from USA, Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Uganda.



 Interview with Zoe Schumm, founder of 4 All Humanity


Why the name 4 All Humanity? 
We (when I say we I mean my husband and I) came to the name 4 All Humanity for a couple of different reasons. One because we really want this brand to be about helping everyone that we come in contact with; the cotton growers to the the end consumer. Even the person that doesn't buy from us, we still want to make their lives better by either educating them to the importance of fair trade or empowering them to make a difference in their own community. And two it's kind of catchy. It's short and two the point, which we both like. And it also makes you want to know a little more. 

Tell me about your production and fabric sourcing. How does your brand contrast that of small scale businesses that do not consider themselves "ethically sourced"? 
Well every part of our supply chain is ethically sourced right down to the fabric. Like I mentioned before we want this brand and everything that we do to help all who come in contact with us. For our organic cotton we work with a small mill in Tanzania. In organic cotton no harsh chemicals are used which is huge. First they do not have the growers or the pickers and two there isn't the hazardous run off into streams and lakes that would than affect farm land and drinking water. In your average apparel company there isn't this forethought about the cotton farmer, cotton picker, and certainty not the surrounding community. Their main concern is going to be with price and whether the fabric is going to come in on time. Very little thought is given to how the production of the fabric will effect anyone other than the said company.

Can you tell me what short term and long term impacts 4 All Humanity is making? 
In the short term we are giving artisans employment which is huge! They have sustainable employment which enables them to provide for their families. We also give them upfront funds so that they do not have to pay anything out of pocket to procure fabric, trims, etc. (which is very different than your standard apparel company). I'm not sure if two years is enough time to see true long term impacts, but we have already seen some very cool things happen. From the sustainable employment the women and families they are able to settle into a better lifestyle and not worry day to day about money and how they are going to eat. We have seen, in Inida, girls staying in school longer because they no longer are asked to get a job to help pay for expenses. The mind set of girls being a burden or just one more mouth to feed is slowly changing as life is less fearful for the parents. 

Does women's empowerment, education, and gender inequality play take a part in your business structure? 
It does but its not at the forefront. From the story I mentioned above it is a side effect. We absolutely believe in gender equality and women's empowerment, but before we can focus on those we have to deal with the more basic needs of food and education. 

How many women are currently employed? What were they doing before working with 4 All Humanity? 
We employ a little over 500 artisans, of which a little over half are women. Many of the women before working with us didn't have an income or they were working in sweat shop conditions for slave wages.

 4 All humanity, kampala workshop

How did you select the current countries you work in? 
It's a combination of need and what native craft or art form is the country known for.

Tell me about the workspace? What is a typical workday like? 
I'll talk with you a little about the women in Uganda. They have an open work space (attached is a photo). They have normal working hours much like the hours that we hold here in the US. They work on fabrics from cotton jersey to kitenge and pieces from bags to dresses. All the women have had some schooling/training in tailoring and sewing. Some days are busier than others if we are doing a large round of production. If we are doing sampling a few of the women will work on the samples. They have breaks regularly and leave in time to be home with their families to enjoy the evening. 

Can you tell me a little bit more about your founders? 
The founders are my husband, Josh, and I. We're two weirdos. He is definitely a numbers guys and very smart. I'm more your typical artists. We compliment each other well. He brings structure into my life and I bring fun into his! 

What is it like being a social enterprise among many other social enterprises, many of which are beginning to sell similar products? 
Well first, it's really cool seeing all the social enterprises coming into the marketplace! It's encouraging to me because it shows that the market is ready or at lest more willing to purchase ethically, which is awesome!! It's also great that these new companies are coming out with more on trend products, it will just further the fair trade movement even more. I'm a creative type and I always have something up my sleeve that will set us apart.

Why is it important for your clothing to be made of organic cotton? Are all of your cottons organic? From where are they sourced? 
It is important that the cotton is organic because of the ripple effect that it has on the community that the cotton is grown in. Like I mentioned previously when chemicals are used in cotton farming the hazardous chemicals run off into streams and lake which effect farm land and drinking water which has an impact on the entire community. No, not all of our cottons are organic. Only the cotton that is coming from Africa is organic. The other cotton is grown here in the US in North Carolina. The plant that the cotton is grown however is state of the art and the plant does as much as they can to control any of the side effects of the pesticides. 
Where do you see 4 All Humanity in 5 years? 10 years? 
I like to plan things out, and so does my husband, but where we are now is not where we thought we would be and the things that I've been able to do have been mind blowing. So I'm all for planning but being flexible. I'm very excited for our future we have some great things and partnerships forming for 2015. For right now I'm open to what the future will bring our way planned or unplanned.

How do you define beauty? 
I think beauty can be found in juxtaposition and contradiction. Not contradiction in the sense of being a hypocrite but in being able to be soft and feminine and turn around and not be afraid to get dirty. We as women have so much to offer. Yes we are soft and feminine but we are also strong, courageous, and determined. It's in the balance of the strong and soft sides that we find true grace and true grace is beautiful.