Like I promised, this is going to be a little different post. Still inspired by the want to highlight women important to my life, just with a twist. Two weeks ago I was contacted by a friend to take photos for a micro-financing endeavor for her business, Bathing Beauteas. She and her partner create beautiful bath teas that are supposed to heal and soothe as you soak. One of their main drives is to also empower women with their work, so as you can tell our two motives align well. You can check out their site here and if you're looking for any last minute gifts or goodies, I highly suggest a purchase.
I arrived at the location for the shoot and met Joyce and Stephanie, the founders of Bathing Beauteas. Arriving from a long drive on a cold, dark, rainy day, I pulled into a house. At first I was confused because I was not told who the nonprofit was that Bathing Beauteas was partnering with, but Joyce immediately told me that we had arrived at the Hope House. If you are like me, you don't know what the Hope House is. I soon learned that we were at a house that is a long-term rehabilitation for survivors of sex trafficking. The Hope House was created by UnBound, an organization that may be a bit more familiar. UnBound brings healing and hope to survivors of sex trafficking and works tirelessly to help anyone escape the chains that sex trafficking has wrapped around their lives. According to their website,
"Today, hundreds of our neighbors, community members, and children will be exploited for sex. Seattle's proximity to an international border, major ports, and the I-5 corridor make Washington an attractive place for exploiters and traffickers. Youth and women in our community are especially at-risk and disproportionately impacted. The consequences are dire as women in prostitution die at three times the rate of their peer group."
We walked into the house and started to set up Joyce and Stephanie's loose leaf teas and products, as the women there were going to learn how to assemble these tea bags. For the privacy of the house, as well as everyone involved I only took photos of hands, Joyce and Stephanie during the day, but below are some of my favorites.
This was a special day for me for so many reasons. First, it was unexpected. Going into it I had no idea where Joyce was taking me (but knowing her I was along for the ride). Once arriving and understanding where we were, I would be remiss not to mention the wave of emotion I felt from being in that home. And then I felt strength. Being able to document Joyce and Stephanie in their element doing exactly what they set out to do, empowering other women, was humbling. But also observing the way everyone interacted and the joy in the room was impactful in itself.
To Joyce and Stephanie I want to say thanks for thinking to include me in this endeavor. I am so excited to see more of how you use your talents for good. I know it's the holiday season and you've heard this a million times, but the last message I ask of you readers is to consider giving to the Hope House this season. $40 can help a woman stay in a safe, positive space that will help her heal and begin a new life. You can donate here and learn more about the Hope House.
Please don't forget to check out Bathing Beauteas as well, obviously they are doing a lot of good and making a stunning product in the process.
Lastly, even if you do not send along a donation this holiday season because we all have people to gift and things to do, no worries. Just try to support your friends in their plans and their hustles. You will be better for it, they will be better, and every once in a while you get to have moments like this that make a community better. Happy Holidays friends, keep going on what you're passionate about, people are noticing.
Extra: Below is my favorite picture of my friend Joyce from the day. Much love Joyce, thanks for that moment in time.