Free to Explore || The Tote Project

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Colorado is rugged in the fall. As the season slips from warmth to chill, my tendency is to avoid the ruggedness, to cozy up with a sweater and a coffee and “stay comfortable”. Despite my adoration of the warmer tones, the changing leaves, and the layers, I’ve realized that I don’t explore my surroundings nearly as much when the cold sets in.

I think that metaphor can be used for most “seasons” of life too. It’s not in our nature to push past comfort and once we’re there, we can be hard pressed to leave, to get out, to venture into the unfamiliar. My Enneagram 9-comfort-loving-conflict-avoiding heart might be the worst of all. But I think the trait is fairly common even for the most adventurous of souls. When the frost lays down a layer of unfamiliarity, we bundle up inside ourselves, afraid to meet whatever lies beyond.

This tote — with the phrase “Free to Explore” — is my subtle reminder to do just that.

As I venture into uncharted territory with Simple Coffee, as I juggle three kids and our first year in real school, as I force myself to venture out into new places in the town I grew up in….I want to always feel free to explore.

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I can’t help but feel that this reminder of my own freedom was intentional. The Tote Project, sneaky geniuses that they are, cleverly write reminders into all of their pieces that we are FREE to do the things we love (even if it requires a push).

The reason they remind us of this is because their heart is with the women who aren’t free…the women who are trapped, literally, in human trafficking. They aren’t free to explore or learn or grow or flourish or forage or dream. They’re trapped, stuck.

One of the reasons I love The Tote Project so much is that they take a seemingly simple phrase and open it up to reveal the true irony behind it. Gently, they’re pushing consumers to be better and to care about issues that may not affect their day to day but are wreaking havoc on lives elsewhere (sometimes just around the corner).

I’ve partnered with this brand before (I’ll apologize in advance for my photos ;) — they were one of the very first brands I ever worked with back when I was trying to turn SL&Co into a job. Even then, I was inspired by their dedication to ending slavery one tote at a time.

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The Tote Project donates 10% of their gross profit to Two Wings, a LA-based non-profit that empowers trafficking survivors to dream about a new future through mentorship programs, holistic support, and job training.

Every purchase, every tote and pouch, makes a difference.

They’re also incredibly transparent about their supply chain and sourcing, since slavery in supply chain and production factories is very common in the fashion industry. All of their pieces are made with organic and/or fair trade certified cotton and printed with designs that they create themselves.

Here’s the other thing about freedom — it’s a privilege. Even the opportunity to shop from brands like this who are committed to doing good, is a choice we shouldn’t take lightly. It may seem like a small thing, deciding where to buy a tote bag, but when you consider how much GOOD The Tote Project does through the production of a single tote compared to how much harm other brands can do, the choice is pretty clear.

The Tote Project just released their fall collection and, of course, I picked the tote/pouch combo that most resonated with my heart. Which phrase is your favorite? Click here to shop the new collection!

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*This post is in partnership with The Tote Project. All images, creative direction, and storytelling are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make the world a little bit better.*