MARIA OGNEVA'S BLOG
Hello, and welcome to my blog and the digital home for my thoughts. Most know me as @themaria, my handle across most social media sites and communities. My actual, given name is Maria Ogneva, and I love writing, traveling, eating, and spending time with my new husband.
I am passionate about how social media is changing the way we communicate, help and relate to each other, share news and make the world a smaller, more hospitable place. I work at Salesforce as Director of Product Marketing on the Communities product, where my job is to help customers (and the world at large) to be successful in building communities. I learn every day, and I share my thoughts and personal growth here.
Please note that the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer or any of our clients.
About 3 months ago, I saw this video, and it broke my heart into a million pieces. There I was crying my eyes out, in front of my large screen in my home office. It was about 4 p.m. and I was almost done with a blogpost when I paused to check out some news links via Twitter. And then I saw it. I mean.. I knew about sex trafficking before, but seeing a video and hearing a story this powerful is not the same thing as reading about it. I promptly tweeted it saying something like “Watch this and don’t you dare complain about your life.” I was sad about what I saw, but I was also happy that with a miniscule action such as a tweet, which was available to me, I could let my network know about it. Perhaps it would move people to action. Perhaps it wouldn’t. Perhaps it would make people join me in a good cry. Perhaps it wouldn’t. But I knew for sure I was doing my part in at least raising awareness. Perhaps I could do something about it myself. And then life happened; with work and planning a wedding, I filled my head with daily minutiae of life and didn’t think of it, except for a few times I returned to watch the video. I cried every time. Even though I did’t take action immediately, I knew I wanted to do something. I just didn’t know what. But life has a funny way of working out.
Fast forward a couple of months. I am eating lunch in New York City, catching up with Blake Landau and Brian Vellmure (whom I had just met), when Brian tells us about International Princess Project. IPP is an organization that rescues women from brothels by (typically) buying them, teaching them to sew, giving them a place to live and paying them a fair wage. One of the reasons that women get stuck in brothels is that they have no skills and no other way of making money and supporting themselves and their families. For many, prostitution is the only way; it’s the only thing they know how to do. Sometimes enslaved women don’t even realize their self-worth and that they deserve a shot at life. IPP provides a way to teach women how to make a living through sewing and how to take care of themselves, while raising self-esteem. What do the women make? These beautiful premium sleepwear called Punjammies! What I love about IPP is that it’s not a pity party, and it’s not only about donating money, but rather about supporting and sustaining a meaningful and thriving business and empowering a community of women by allowing them to work. You know what they say… teach a man to fish… Now substitute “woman” for “man”, and “sew” for “fish” I think it’s a great enough cause to get involved in anyway, but I also truly respect them for having a business model. So immediately, Blake and I asked Brian: “How do we get involved?”
We are proud to announce that we are going to be volunteering our time doing social media and PR for IPP. Given Blake’s background in nonprofits and my background in fashion (buying for Macy’s and working with FashionablyMarketing.Me), and our social media line of work, we will use our skills and experiences to further awareness for IPP and sex trafficking, move the needle on action and think up some creative stuff. What a great way to have fun, do good and feed the soul, all at the same time! I look forward to your support!