here there and EVERYwhere: A Social (Clothing) Movement

By Marianelli Agbulos

What if a piece of clothing could tell you how multiple threads were sewn together to become something new – not just literal threads being woven together, but those of the person’s story who (re)created the clothing. In terms of donated clothing, “something old” becomes “something new” to someone, and the person who gets it is often unknown to us. here there and EVERYwhere (htE) keeps people connected to their donated items so that they know who used their donated item, what they repurposed the item into, and the profit made out of it. Most importantly, they learn about survivors who give new life to donated clothing, as well as themselves.

here there and EVERYwhere is a repurposed goods platform currently working with survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking in New York City. Under the guidance of volunteers, women learn sewing, design, and entrepreneurial skills to make new items out of donated goods. As survivors work on their pieces, the “htE dove,” htE’s transparent tracking system, tracks what the donated good was transformed into and tells the donor a little bit about the survivor. htE’s transparent tracking system makes it unique from other organizations as the htE dove engages the public with the survivor and makes them look beyond the result of the product, but also its process and its creator.

here there and EVERYwhere’s roots began in 2012 when its founder, Tanya, volunteered withNew York Asian Women’s Center (NYAWC) residential children program. She wondered what would be the best way to help survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. Utilizing her passion in fashion and design, htE came to life and blossomed further when Andrew joined. Tanya and Andrew worked together to build htE, conducting market research and participating in non-profit entrepreneurship contests. Their preparation and hard work was put to action this past April when they ran their first workshop cycle in an NYAWC shelter. Conducting the workshop has been a valuable learning experience for Tanya and Andrew, as they state, “We realized that rather than it be a student-teacher relationship, it’s become a collaborative effort. All the survivors have been very engaged, and it’s allowing a lot of room for creativity.”

here there and EVERYwhere’s program is designed around the three month time frame survivors are given for residential assistance. After three months, survivors leave the program with two to three items made and the skills needed to manage and market their own sales. So far, the survivors who have participated in htE’s workshops have created multiple items to be sold, from pillows and dresses to handbags and fabric wall pieces. Survivors are excited and confident as they take full control over their projects.

Despite the current success of here there and EVERYwhere and with its goal of expanding the program to other shelters, there are still some challenges Tanya and Andrew face. There’s the unavoidable concern for dealing with legal aspects around survivors, and there is the bigger issue of dealing with people who choose not to acknowledge problems of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking, along with having an incorrect perception of survivors being “delicate, fragile women.” Andrew said he identified himself under that category before, until he was sexually assaulted himself and learned from that experience. It’s this realization that fosters awareness of the social responsibility entrusted to everyone.

Tanya and Andrew are firm believers that everyone can make a change, no matter how small the action. htE’s namesake is symbolic of the fact that domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking are world-wide issues that needs everyone’s attention. These are their words of inspiration to how others can help survivors:

“The biggest step to making a difference is to first acknowledge the task and accept it. A lot of people live in ignorance and know that these things happen but then become numb to it because it’s such a big issue. Once you understand the scope of the situation, it will just automatically create change in just the way you act. Awareness is essential.”

here there and EVERYwhere welcomes all volunteers with any skills to assist them. A background in fashion is not required, just the desire to make a difference. Email: connect@hteverywhere.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *