The Tote Project #HoldOnToHope

A less talked about thread in ethical fashion is mitigation and prevention of human trafficking. It’s bizarre that we, in 2019, live in a world where there are more than twenty million slaves. It’s an uncomfortable, nagging truth that is rarely brought up, even in ethical fashion circles. The Tote Project is an organization whose focus is ending slavery. 

What is The Tote Project?

Fay Grant and Michelle Chavez created The Tote Project to help end slavery through ethical manufacturing, spreading awareness and giving back. The Tote Project sells fair trade, cotton tote bags and pouches sewn by women impacted by human trafficking. Each item has a cute illustration and is accompanied by a tagline like “Free to Dream.”

Human Trafficking Awareness

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Lives are sold, traded, abused and exploited.  This violation of human rights is an uncomfortable subject. I remember watching the film “Taken” but, despite its controversial storyline, “Taken” is better remembered as a slick action film rather than a piece that raises visibility on the human trafficking situation.

I find it hard to comprehend some of the stats surrounding human trafficking. Currently, there are over 20-30 million victims worldwide. It’s the third-largest international crime industry (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking) and generates a $32 billion profit every year.

Ethical Production 

Each of The Tote Project’s items is made with eco-friendly, sustainable materials and the designs are painted with water-based, eco-friendly inks. The totes are made by Oasis Bags which trains women in Kolkata, India to become full-time seamstresses or open their own tailoring businesses. The pouches are made by Freeset, which is a fair trade business that employs women escaping West Bengal’s sex trade.

The Tote Project also donates 10% of their gross profits to Two Wings, a non-profit which empowers survivors of sex trafficking through education and mentoring.

Learn more about Human Trafficking

If you want to learn more about human trafficking, Michelle & Faye have compiled a list of books they recommend (and update regularly): Book List.

What I’m wearing

In this post, I’m carrying the “Free to Inspire” tote and the “Free to Dream” pouch. The tote feels like Mary Poppin’s magic bag; it deftly carries everything I need. The pouch works as a makeup bag, pencil case or general compartmentalizer.


The Tote Project’s motto is #HoldOnToHope. As I’ve said before, it feels good to support a company that aligns with your values. Money talks and if you’re going to buy something, make a positive impact with what you buy.

I’d like to say thank you to Fay and Michelle for sponsoring this post and as always, all opinions are my own.

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