Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve been blazing our own trail as a combination business and nonprofit. As such a unique entity, you may have some questions. Here are the ones we run into most frequently. Feel free to contact us if you don’t see what you’re looking for. We love answering your questions!
Slavery has existed throughout history - exploiting, oppressing, and commodifying those enslaved. Many believe that this kind of human commodification ended as slavery became illegal all over the world. Unfortunately, it just went underground. Today slavery exists as human trafficking. A victim of human trafficking is someone who is exploited through force, fraud or coercion for the economic gain of another. Forced labor in agricultural fields or sweat shops, domestic servitude, fighting as child soldiers, being sold into a forced marriage, or exploited through commercial sex, are all forms of human trafficking. Aside from cases involving minors, legally, there must be either force (beatings, rape, restraints), fraud (false promises, lies) or coercion (threats, blackmail, withholding of documentation) involved for a situation to be considered trafficking. Both labor and sex trafficking exist in Houston.
Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, second only to the drug trade. It is an industry producing over $150 billion dollars in illegal profit every year.
Estimates from the International Labour Organization suggest that more than 40 million enslaved people live in our world today; forced to work against their will, be sold as prostitutes, or forced into marriage. The majority of these victims are women and children, and they can be found all over the world, including the United States and our very own city.
Human trafficking occurs at the nexus of desperation and greed. Individuals may find themselves in all kinds of desperate situations—the inability to provide for themselves or their family, the need to escape violence or danger in their home or country, or a desperate need to find someone who will love them. Created through poverty, job loss, systemic oppression, racism, war, abuse, loneliness, and so many other factors, these desperations create individuals vulnerable to trafficking. When that desperation meets the greed and depravity of another, the field becomes ripe for trafficking and exploitation.
Human trafficking also exists as a result of consumerism. As members of a first-world country we love to consume. We love it even more if it is cheap and convenient. Unfortunately, this demand, coupled with hazy supply chains, makes labor trafficking more rampant and common-place, as companies attempt to find quicker and less expensive ways to produce our goods.
Fair trade is a global movement demanding a higher standard for the way we do business. Fair trade brings transparency to the supply chain, ensuring workers are compensated with sustainable income; communities are developed and supported through economic development; and that the environment is well preserved. The Fair Trade certification label enables us all to be more conscious consumers, and support companies and products that are made in ethical ways.
While sex trafficking often receives more media attention and public outcry, according to studies by the International Labour Organization, it only constitutes roughly 12% of all trafficking cases globally. The remainder of cases fall into forced labor (50%), and forced marriage (38%).
Sex trafficking is commercialized sexual exploitation, forcing victims to perform sex acts in exchange for compensation and is induced through physical force, fraud, or coercion.
Labor trafficking is bonded or forced labor coercing individuals to work to repay an unpayable debt or to escape threats of deportation or physical abuse. Labor trafficking often happens in fields of low-skilled labor including, but not limited to construction, agricultural work, domestic servitude, hospitality, sweatshop labor, janitorial work, and begging. Many of the products we consume have some kind of exploitation in their supply chain. As consumers, we can work to fight labor trafficking by choosing to consume consciously and evaluate the supply chains of the things we buy.
Human trafficking happens all over the world, even here in Houston. Houston is often considered a hub of human trafficking activity. Boasting two international airports and an international port, Houston is easily accessible by international traffickers and their victims. Our city is also home to I-10, a major thoroughfare traffickers utilize when moving their victims across the United States. And one of the most beautiful features of Houston, our diversity, is also a camouflage allowing international traffickers to blend in. As one of the largest cities in the US, we also host many conferences and sporting events, drawing in visitors from all of the world, often increasing the demand for trafficking.
But we are not just a hub of trafficking activity, we are a model for collaborative efforts to end human trafficking. We have many organizations throughout the city and county, meeting regularly and strategically working to end human trafficking in Houston.
While it is true that anyone can be trafficked, there are those who have a greater number of vulnerabilities to this type of exploitation. Those living in the margins, often overlooked or even oppressed are among those most vulnerable. Communities and groups that have a higher degree of vulnerability include children, immigrants, refugees, communities of color, those living below the poverty line, and individuals experiencing previous abuse.
Because human trafficking is fueled by desperation and demand, anything that increases either of these two factors makes trafficking more prevalent.
When natural disasters occur and leave many without basic necessities. When an individual loses their job or is unable to find or maintain gainful employment. When a family is fleeing violence or danger from their home country. When war ravages a country. When an individual’s finances are depleted to pay for unforeseen medical expenses. All of these scenarios increase an individual’s vulnerabilities to trafficking.
Similarly, when demand increases, human trafficking follows. When consumers push for cheaper and more convenient goods, companies adapt to meet those needs and increase their profits. When individuals experience stressful or desperate situations and turn to commercial sex for appeasement, traffickers adapt to meet the need. When a large number of individuals travel to a location for an event and have a new freedom to pursue commercial sex, traffickers increase the supply of humans to meet the need.
Desperation. Desperation looks different for different people and can be caused by a number of different scenarios. Poverty, previous or on-going abuse, inability to find employment, lost resources due to job loss, medical bankruptcy or natural disasters, racial discrimination, and any other factor that positions an individual in a precarious situation, increases the likeliness of human trafficking.
Being a teenager is, in itself, a vulnerability. However, it is relatively uncommon for kids without additional vulnerabilities to be trafficked. To minimize the vulnerabilities your children have to trafficking there are several steps you can take.
- Know their friends and their friends’ parents.
- Be aware of how they spend their time online and teach them safe internet behaviors.
- Talk to them openly about human trafficking and specifically focus on red flags.
- Have a good understanding of where they go and what they do with their friends.
- Find ways to engage in their lives as much as possible to support them in becoming the best versions of themselves.
- Check out our events calendar to find any upcoming training for parents and caregivers.
We believe everyone has something to give to fight against human trafficking. Here are a few ways you can help!
- Keep Learning - Find a documentary, book, article or report from our Resource page or come to an awareness event to continue growing your understanding of this issue.
- Consume Consciously - Start small with one of your favorite items, like coffee or chocolate and make a decision to only buy it if it is ethically sourced.
- Give - Financially support organizations like us who are working every day to eradicate human trafficking.
- Volunteer - Give your time, skills and talents to organizations to help them do their work more effectively.
- Teach Others - Invite your friends, family, colleagues for a cup of coffee and spread the word about fighting human trafficking.
- Vote for Humanity - Help ensure that policies and elected officials lift up those who are most vulnerable.
- Report - If you are concerned about a case of human trafficking or know someone needs help, reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline - 1.888.373.3888
A 2nd Cup
Our shop works to fight human trafficking in three primary ways:
- Educate - We utilize our space to ensure that every Houstonian knows that human trafficking exists in our city and empower our customers to get involved. From informational decor to in-depth awareness events, getting the word out about trafficking is one of our biggest initiatives to end it.
- Partner - We work strategically with local, national, and international organizations to be more thoughtful, connected, and effective at the work we are doing. We also want to connect you with those partners, providing more opportunities for all of our customers and supporters to be tangibly involved in this fight.
- Provide - We invest in aftercare for survivors by contributing to other organizations with financial and in-kind donations to support their work with survivors. We also work to train survivors through our Brazen Table program, to help them prepare for a job in the food and hospitality industry as a means for financial stability and independence.
Additionally, we work to ensure that customers have access to fair-trade and ethically sourced products. We believe it is vitally important to combat human trafficking on this front and that as we do our work here in Houston, we don’t exacerbate this problem elsewhere in the world. We use fair-trade products for our food and drinks wherever it is available. We also have a beautifully curated merchandise section, showcasing fair trade goods, survivor made goods, and goods made by vulnerable artisans as a prevention method to human trafficking. Purchasing this merchandise supports our mission and the mission of our social entrepreneurial vendors.
Our Founder, Erica Raggett always wanted to open a coffee shop, but like many millennials, she also had a passion to change the world. She was unable to see how these two things could be connected until she heard about human trafficking. Erica knew she couldn't just walk away feeling bad about it; she had to do something about it. Through her research and experience with the issue in Houston—combined with empathy for the seemingly insurmountable obstacles survivors would face—an idea emerged: a coffee shop that would raise awareness about human trafficking and support survivors on their journey of restoration.
It is essential for us to ensure that the business we do here in Houston does not make the problem of human trafficking worse somewhere else in the world. For that reason, we work hard to identify and source ethically made and fair trade certified products for our menu and our merchandise.
We work with our food vendors to find all of the fair trade or ethically sourced products we can to use in the creation of our food and drink menu, focusing heavily on products that traditionally utilize forced or exploited labor, like coffee, tea, chocolate and sugar. If there is a fair trade option available we opt for that, regardless of cost.
Our Operations Director, Brooke Evans, works to find merchandise vendors that are either fair-trade, ethically sourced, made by survivors of human trafficking, or made by vulnerabe artisans to prevent exploitation or trafficking. She researches vendors and contacts them directly to ensure they align with our mission and values and has curated an amazing selection of goods that you can find in our shop or online!
Yes! Check out our volunteer page for more information.
No. We work hand-in-hand with organizations and law enforcement who investigate and assist victims in safely exiting trafficking situations. Survivors are referred to our culinary training program by our partner organizations once they are ready to begin finding employment. If you are concerned about a case of human trafficking or know someone needs help, reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline - 1.888.373.3888 or the local 24/7 hotline 713-322-8000
We chose a phoenix to represent A 2nd Cup because we firmly believe that no matter their past, every single survivor can rise up from those ashes and become who they were intended to be prior to their experience. Our phoenix is lovingly named Joaquin.
When musing about opening a coffee shop one day, our founder joked that everyone could come to her shop to get a second cup. Being in the dark about human trafficking at the time, that idea got tucked into her memory as a cute potential name for her future shop. Once she heard about human trafficking and came up with the idea of this social enterprise, this cute name became something more meaningful - a second cup, a second chance.