Submitted by Starfish Project
Starfish Project began in 2006, when our founder and CEO Jenny McGee began visiting women caught in exploitation and trafficking. Visiting the shops is truly heartbreaking. It was clear the women had a very real economic need, so we opened a social enterprise jewelry company to provide an alternative for these women. We welcomed our first group of women in 2007 to work at the social enterprise and live in our women and children’s shelter started. It was amazing to see the first group of women leave their exploitative circumstances and start a new life at Starfish Project!
Starfish Project’s outreach teams reach hundreds of women every month who are currently trapped in exploitation and offers them educational classes, hospital visits and general care. The women we meet in brothels are typically from rural, impoverished areas and migrated to the city for jobs they believed to be legitimate. Their families may even know their situation but not intervene because they value the income the woman is providing. These women typically have histories of deep physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Today, our model is largely the same—outreach to women living in brothels, shelter, and alternative employment—but we have grown a lot! To date, we have empowered more than 100 women to leave their lives of exploitation and join Starfish Project’s jewelry company. We provide our women and their children with shelter, counseling, access to healthcare, educational opportunities, child education grants and vocational training. Additionally, we provide full-time employment in our jewelry company, where women can use the skills they have learned to provide for themselves and their families. At Starfish Project, 100 percent of the profits from our jewelry sales are invested into our social mission to provide economic, physical and emotional stability to trafficked women.
In 2014, Starfish Project began partnering with the UN-ACT and World Vision to support internationally trafficked women. In addition to the women we employ, we have helped women from Cambodia, the Philippines and Mongolia be repatriated to their home country and find work there.
We do our work because we love to see women’s lives transformed. We love to see women live with a renewed purpose, a new sense of hope, and new confidence in who they were created to be. Our women are not just beneficiaries of our work; they have grown to become managers, accountants, designers, and friends.
We do our work because human trafficking felt so overwhelming and we want to make a difference. At Starfish Project, we believe everyone has a place to make a difference to victims of human trafficking. Wherever you are in life—a student, a full-time professional, a full-time parent, retired, married, single, whatever—you can use your existing skills, resources, and platforms to make a difference. Starfish Project offers several ways to do that, and we would love to talk to you about how you can make a difference. Learn more here.
Shop Starfish Project all month with the code FREETHESLAVES, and 25 percent of the profits will be donated to FTS!
Editor’s note: Starfish Project is one of 12 ethical fashion brands that have teamed up with Free the Slaves in July for our 25 Days of Fashion Against Slavery summer campaign.