Fashion as a catalyst for change: this is a passion of mine so I was very interested when I discovered Fashion Hope, a non-profit that builds awareness and raises funds in the fashion industry to help rehabilitate survivors of human trafficking.
What I didn't discover is that the story behind the cause and Founder/CEO Marc Palmer would be so compelling.
Interview with Marc Palmer
1. How did you get involved in Fashion Hope?
When my mother passed away in 2008, I was deeply affected, at a crossroads and needed to take stock of the larger life picture and reflect on life purpose, destiny, and what leaving a legacy could or would look like. One thing was clear: I did not want continue to be in the mode of materialism and acquisition; the desire that I had was to be a part of something that would be life impacting.
One Sunday my best friend and I were attending a church service when the Pastor introduced the subject of human trafficking that existed in our modern day world and a video depicting this was played -- an 11 year old girl in Southeast Asia (Burma) speaking of the horrors of her experience as a sex slave. She was given three options: die if you refuse, get your genitalia burned or mutilated or perform the sex acts requested of her by 20 to 40 men a day.
Watching and listening to what was said on that video was that life-changing moment. That was all it took for me to know my calling and what the next steps in my life would encompass. It was crystal clear that I had to take stand and find a way to make this atrocity of human trafficking visible and to support the process of rescuing of women and children who are enslaved in that life, on a large scale. According America's Most Wanted, the fastest growing crime in America and the world is the atrocity of human trafficking.
Brainstorming in early 2011 with a group of passionate friends gave life to the concept and model of Fashion Hope -- directing awareness and raising funds for this important cause.
2. What's the vision for Fashion Hope in 5 years?
1) To get the needed exposure to raise awareness at various Fashion Weeks around the world, celebrity events, music artist backstage events and through the press.
2) To raise the funds to resource our NGO partners to rescue, house, rehabilitate and provide solid employment through our Sewing for the Cause program launching this fall in Kenya that links up with design houses to employ ex-slaves and to see that pilot grow all over the globe. Using our photography partner Steven James Collins to inspire activism, create change and make a positive impact through iconic images and fashion.
3) To successfully launch our ethical slave-free fashion house online this spring with various designers from around the world that are passionate about the cause. Through these efforts it’s my hope to have a viable business model that is changing lives and restoring hope for years to come.
3. Where do you find the greatest source of inspiration?
It comes from my faith in God and my mom who was a very compassionate woman with a passion to give back. Over a decade ago she started a shelter for girls aging out of foster care to protect them from becoming victims of pimps -- she was a visionary doing this before the phrase “human trafficking” was common knowledge.
4. Share a success story that resulted in the good work you do.
This year we were invited to be apart of assembling swag bags for events at the Sundance Film Festival and the Oscars through our partnership with Fortunate Angels. At these events we had more than 400 people sign a pledge to work with Fashion Hope to raise awareness among their family, friends and community.
5. Fill in the blank: Life is too short to…
...live it only for self. Ironically, giving yourself away selflessly with a purpose is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and others.