Grateful for You

Dear Friends,

On this lovely Thanksgiving, I am so grateful for each of you and the ways you restore hope to women living in Asia. This year at Starfish Project, we get to celebrate record sales growth and amazing Stories of Hope.

The women at Starfish Project have made amazing progress as they experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers. I’ve gotten to pass on your jewelry orders to Fan so she can organize our production team. Our production team has never been so busy! I’ve been blown away by June as she’s learned to take product photos for our website with some training from Luke. This year we got to see Fay gain acceptance to college and begin studying for her Bachelor’s. There are dozens more Stories of Hope . I wish every single customer and supporter could come to Asia and meet each of these dear friends! 

When you purchase from Starfish Project, you become a part of their Stories of Hope. In my role at Starfish Project, I get to spend a lot of time in WordPress, Microsoft Excel, and social media. With every blog post, Instagram, and Facebook post, we want to welcome you into the Starfish Project family. The women at Starfish Project have experienced tragic exploitation, but now they are experiencing freedom and developing careers. The Starfish Project family makes that transformation possible. Whether you are a Outreach volunteer visiting brothels in Asia or a customer who shares the story when you wear our jewelry, you are part of these beautiful Stories of Hope! We are grateful for every customer, donor, volunteer, staff member, and formerly exploited woman who is a part of the Starfish Project family all over the world. 

This Thanksgiving and Holiday season, we are grateful for each of you. Thank you for using your resources, time, money, platforms, and influence to restore hope to exploited women. When you wear our jewelry and share our story, you become a part of their Stories of Hope. On behalf of the Starfish Project staff, thank you for being a member of the Starfish Project family. 


Virginia Scharf and the Starfish Project team 


Gift Recommendations for the Holidays

Every year, we receive questions about bestsellers and recommending gifts for the holidays. You all are such great gift givers, and we are so grateful that you want to use your holiday shopping to restore hope to trafficked women.

Here are our top picks for gift giving this year!

Layla-Gold; Cross Bar Necklace
River-Gold; Triangle Pendant Necklace

Libby; Two-tone Hoop Earrings

Ellen; Gold triangle earrings

Cadence; Maio Silver Bracelet
Ellen; Silver triangle earrings

These are great gift choices! Each of these picks sells well across age groups and geographies and gets great customer feedback. Your gift recipient will love it! And if she doesn’t like her jewelry, she has 365 days to return it for any reason.

When you give Starfish Project jewelry, your purchase helps trafficked women experience freedom, establish independence, and develop careers. We track every order as it comes in, and every single purchase means a lot to our women and our team. Thank you for supporting Starfish Project through your holiday shopping!

Meet Zofia Wolicki, COO at Hand in Hand Soap

Zofia Wolicki is the Chief Operating Officer of Hand in Hand Soap. As COO, Zofia is responsible for keeping the business running as smoothly as possible and is the head of marketing and PR. After working part time with Hand in Hand, she was officially hired as the first employee in 2014! On her off time, you can find her hiking in the woods or biking around the city with her husband and dog, Winston. 

Zofia, how did you get involved with Hand in Hand Soap?

I was actually working as a publicist for a small, boutique firm in Philadelphia and we shared an office with another young business, Courtney Apple Photography. I remember the day that Courtney walked in the office with one bar of soap and told me about the business her and her husband, Bill, were starting. I thought it was fabulous! Fast forward a year or so later and I was feeling like I wanted more from my job and to feel connected to children again (I was also once a public school teacher!). I asked Courtney if they needed any help part time. They did, and I met her husband Bill the next week. After a couple of months of doing a variety of jobs and helping Bill out, they offered me a full time position and I was officially the first employee of Hand in Hand. Through the years, my role has changed and I have literally touched every part of this business, from design to manufacturing to shipping to marketing to web design to sales to….you name it, I’ve done it. It’s been incredible to learn so much and continue to learn more every day! 

You guys have donated nearly one million bars of soap. Tell us about the communities that receive these donations.

We donate soaps through orphanages to ensure that the soaps go to children who need them and don’t disrupt any local economies in Haiti. Once we work with an orphanage, we make sure they are continuously stocked with soaps, only expanding to new sites once we can guarantee that we can meet the needs of the children in that facility. I love to talk about Bon Samaritan, one of the first orphanages we donated soaps to in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We have seen this orphanage change in so many ways since our first visit in 2012. They have been able to significantly reduce the number of children who live there, which makes for better living conditions for all. They repainted the building, making it more bright + welcoming. They installed a full kitchen and taught 2 of the older boys how to run it, which they do with pride. And most significantly, they recently installed a system that will allow for water to come through the actual building, which is so exciting to see! While it can be hard to see the same kids each time you visit, knowing that they have not yet found a home, it is also uplifting to see people working so hard to make their orphanages as cozy and home like as they can for the children who live there. We also get to see the kids growing and thriving, which is incredible. 

What business advice do you wish you’d known before you joined Hand in Hand Soap?

Ha! Everything and nothing at the same time?! Considering I come from a non-business background, I have definitely learned A LOT on the job! I think the best advice I can give is this: There are always going to be mistakes and failures. These are not what will determine if your business is successful, but how you react to them will. After doing many, many product launches, I can tell you that something always goes wrong. It’s now what we expect to happen. And that’s okay. Because when you expect things to go wrong, you have a better mindset to figure out how to best fix the problem and move forward. Because there are just more problems waiting for you to solve up ahead! 


What are your favorite Starfish Project picks for… 

I literally only wear earrings! So that’s what I picked from. I don’t even wear my engagement ring, just a simple wedding band and then all. the. earrings!

1. traveling abroad? The Lena Sophia, Yvonne, and Mary Love earrings

2. a night out? The Abigail, Caroline – Blue, Heidi, and Zoe – Blue earrings

Meet John Cotton Richmond, Co-Founder of the Human Trafficking Institute

At Starfish Project, we want our community to be aware and educated about the issue of human trafficking. We are delighted to bring you this interview with John Cotton Richmond, Co-Founder and Director at the Human Trafficking Institute!  

Meet John Cotton Richmond, who has been working on the front lines to combat human trafficking around the world for over 15 years.  He has been named a “Prosecutor of the Year,” an expert on trafficking by the UN, and “every trafficker’s worst nightmare” by the head of the FBI’s human trafficking unit.  When he isn’t working at the Human Trafficking Institute, John is making memories and constructing adventures with his three amazing children and his Lovely and Talented wife.

John Richmond at the Trafficking in Persons Specialized Prosecutor Training in Kampala, Uganda

What is the Human Trafficking Institute, and what do you do there?

The Human Trafficking Institute works to decimate trafficking by stopping the traffickers who commit this terrible crime. We are working alongside partner countries to develop and train specialized human trafficking units. Right now we are working in Belize and Uganda. I lead and support the Human Trafficking Institute’s international projects, research and thought leadership, and organizational development.

John Cotton Richmond leading a session during the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Specialized Prosecutor Training in Kampala, Uganda, in October 2017.

What do you wish everyone knew about human trafficking?

People should know that human trafficking is not only a violation of a person’s fundamental right to be free, it is also an economic crime.  Traffickers are motivated by money.  We can catch traffickers by following the money and stop them from harming others.

What gives you hope in the human trafficking space?

Hope springs from the fact that human trafficking can be stopped.  We are not powerless to confront this surge and we are not relegated to merely mitigating the consequences of trafficking.  We can stop trafficking by stopping traffickers.  Only then can we deal with survivors underlying vulnerabilities as they thrive into their futures.

John Cotton Richmond at a bus stop in Belize

How do you deal with drawing close to abuse and trauma?

I regularly spend time with victims and hear their painful stories.  I also spend time with traffickers to better understand their crime.  The weight of victims’ trauma can be overwhelming if we are not processing it in community.  The key for me is know that I am responsible to do my part to stop traffickers and trust that others will rise up to do their part.  This work is not about one person, one organization, or one strategy.  All of us are necessary for freedom to flourish.


You can learn more about John Cotton Richmond on Twitter and on Facebook

The Grace Lauren Earrings were named in honor of John Cotton Richmond’s daughter, Grace Lauren Richmond. 

Chenny’s Story of Hope



1. How did you come to be at Starfish Project? 
Outreach team volunteers visited me in the shops. It takes 18 hours to get from my hometown to our headquarters city.

2. What are your job responsibilities at Starfish Project? 
I am a Production Staff member, which means I make the jewelry.  I really like making necklaces.

3. What moment at Starfish is the significant to you, and why?
The most significant moment to me is when Rebecca brought me to church. I have a new heart since coming to Starfish. I am kinder, a better friend, and more patient.

4. What is one thing you like about living in the Starfish Project shelter? 
I like the fact the shelter is big.  I love having a big and spacious room.  My room at the shelter is the biggest and most comfortable room I’ve ever had.
5. Which steps of vocational training have you completed?

  • Literacy
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Additional study: English and Math

6. How have you changed since you arrived at Starfish Project?
I think I had a bad temper before coming to Starfish.  Now I am more mild and have a much calmer attitude. I do not get angry as easily.

7. What is your happiest memory at Starfish?
Our trip to the beach a few years ago was awesome! I was my first time to the beach and it was so much fun to go with coworkers.  I loved playing in the sand.

8. What would you like our customers to know about you or the company?
I am happy to work with such nice people.

Check out products made by Chenny and the other women at Starfish Project!