Meet Jess, a 2019 dress designer


Jess Torres.png
I’m proud of making my ceilings my daughter’s floors.
— Jess Torres

Jess Torres (They/Them) is a queer indigenous migrant born in El Salvador and raised in New York City. Jess is a "Survivor Leader" in the anti-trafficking movement and the Survivor Leadership Program Coordinator at The Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) as well as Co-Chair of The National Survivor Network, organizing a collective of over 300 human trafficking survivors and a local Los Angeles group called "Resilient Voices". Jess is also a 'Trauma Justice' Policy Fellow with the Women's Policy Institute through The Women's Foundation of California; sponsoring AB 865 and cosponsoring SB 493 this legislative cycle. They have served as the Keynote Speaker for various national conferences and symposiums, recently recognized by the City of Los Angeles with a 'Change Maker' Award. In 2018, they were given a Certificate of Recognition by California Senator Joel Anderson in honor of "Outstanding Community Service" for their work as an educator with Nola Brantley Speaks. Jess is also a small business owner at Gifted by FreeFrom and an independent consultant with Carissa Phlep's Social Purpose Corporation Runaway Girl Inc, Businesses for Social Responsibility, Dignity Health Hospital, and other Federal Agencies. Jess will also be starting a Community Development Masters this spring! Let’s get to know Jess better in their interview and hear about “The Resilient” dress they designed.

Why did you design your dress the way you did?

It was originally inspired by a pattern of patchwork cloth I noticed on one of our Resilient Voices members, she is from Eritrea. It reminded me of the beauty in our collective resilience and our unique contributions to our movement and our earth.

Why does Dressember’s mission of a world without slavery resonate with you?

As the Co-Chair and Coordinator of the National Survivor Network I have the privilege of working with Survivors in this movement who are judges, lawyers, US Advisors, and international advocates. We bring together a myriad of experiences and expertise to create change. We are working for a world without trafficking; through our human rights foundation we focus on root issues that make people uniquely vulnerable to trafficking. We also provide vital voices and perspectives that are often excluded from national and international discussions, as well as leadership in the movement against human trafficking.

What is something you’re proud of right now?

I’m proud of making my ceilings my daughter’s floors.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

“The broken girls are the flowers of the earth

they grow through tough conditions

they bloom for themselves”

-R.H. Sin

Connect with Jess:

You can connect with Jess at National Survivor Network’s website.

Sketch by Samantha Pilon

Sketch by Samantha Pilon

Find Jess’ design in our upcoming collection of ethically sewn dresses and ties. Pre-orders launch this September!