Be A Biographer: Crowdsourced Design Giving Hope to Sex Trade Survivors

Goodlifer: Be A Biographer

Initiated by human-rights organization The Blind Project, Be A Biographer calls on people with design skills to help tell the stories of the survivors of the multi-billion dollar commercial sex trade, an industry currently enslaving and exploiting millions of women and children. “We want to connect your talents with her needs. For freedom, love, hope, dignity and protection. Our role is simple. To tell her story. To be her biographer,” said Anthony Dodero, co-founder of The Blind Project.

The crowdsourcing design challenge will eventually give birth to a new sustainable style brand called Biographe. “In a system that treats human lives like meaningless commodities, the greater mission of Biographe is to restore and reveal the true value of those victimized. Because when every life has equal value, all stories, all hopes and all dreams are worthy,” said Jessica Sturman, The Blind Project’s lead fashion designer.

The project promotes the holistic restoration of women exploited from the commercial sex trade in Southeast Asia by actually employing them to make the winning designs. They will learn valuable job skills in fashion design and production, and be employed in a positive work environment while earning a sustainable living wage. Proceeds from sales are then reinvested back into the women’s lives via The Blind Project’s partner organizations in Southeast Asia, creating a virtuous sustainable cycle. This kind of business model, combining non-profit social good with for-profit enterprise is becoming increasingly common. In my opinion, it is how every business should — and hopefully will eventually — be run.

Submissions by Laura Pennington & Kelsey Turner.

Submissions by Laura Pennington & Kelsey Turner.

“Biographe matters not solely because of what we are creating, but how we are creating it,” said Kyle Westaway, The Blind Project’s business development lead. “What makes Biographe truly unique, is the creation of a more personal one-to-one connection between two distinct populations — victims and consumers — and moving them both toward a better tomorrow.”


Submissions by Aaron Bromirski (both).

The winning designs will be incorporated into fashion items, printed for gallery exhibitions and shown in advertising campaigns. If you want to submit a design, you should start by reading the stories of three survivors on the project site. Designers may submit designs for one, two or all of the stories and have until September 15th to do so. The 15 semi-finalists (5 for each of the 3 stories) will be determined by public voting. On October 21st three Grand Finalists will be selected by a panel of notable judges, among them Alex Bogusky, most recently Co-Chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Chief Creative Insurgent of MDC Partners, Somaly Mam, Anti-Human Trafficking Activist and Founder of AFESIP, and AnnaLynne McCord, actress and The Blind Project Ambassador.

Submissions by Ryan Clark (both).

Submissions by Ryan Clark (both).

“The power of problem-solving creativity, the survivor’s voice for victims, and the influence of youth activism is what makes collaboration with Alex, Somaly and AnnaLynne so amazing,” said Kevin Kim, The Blind Project’s marketing lead. “Every person has that something special — a talent, a gift — to make this cause stronger, more influential, and more personal. Join us.”

Top photo, left side, submission by Cindy Panyanouvong.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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