After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Amy Hughes, ACLU-NJ supporter and owner of the local business Maplewood Mercantile, brought her daughter Vivienne to a local rally in support of reproductive freedom. Amy knew this ruling was yet another unprecedented attack on abortion and she wanted to do whatever she could to support the fight to protect and expand reproductive health care in New Jersey – ensuring that Vivienne understood the gravity of the moment every step of the way.

After hearing from advocates at the rally, Vivienne was inspired to act. For the past two years, Vivienne and a group of friends have tie-dyed tote bags and sold them at her mother’s store during Maplewoodstock, donating the proceeds to the ACLU of New Jersey. We sat down with Vivienne to hear more about her motivation for change and hopes for the future.

Can you share what this project entailed? And what motivated you to start it? 

When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June of 2022, my mom took me and a friend to a rally in South Orange, where we heard speakers of all ages describe how this decision would impact people across the country. This inspired me to do something, even if it started out small. The year before, I had tie dyed some canvas bags donated by friends and family and sold them, raising money for an animal welfare center. In July of 2022, I got a few more friends to dye bags with me, raising a lot more than the year prior, and decided to donate the proceeds to the ACLU of New Jersey. 

Two young white girls with brown hair pose with tie dyed bags they created

Why did you choose to partner with the ACLU-NJ? 

My mom first introduced me to the ACLU, and after learning more about the organization, I decided its mission to preserve, advance, and extend the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every New Jerseyan really aligned with what matters most to me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to be really curious and passionate about women’s rights issues, and more recently, the rights of trans people after the increase of threatening laws that have been passed around the country. 

What did this project teach you about the people in your town and across the state? 

I learned quickly that I live around a lot of like-minded people who share the same values as me, but there are also many people who don’t share those values both inside and outside my community. I realized that I have mostly been exposed to people who think like I do. As a result, I became more interested in engaging with those who may think differently than I do about a particular topic, even if I disagree. 

Young white girl with grey tshirt posing with handmade dyed bags in a store

How has this project informed your hopes for the future? 

I’ve been super inspired by my peers, especially two young women I heard speak at the rally I went to after Roe v. Wade was overturned. It’s given me a lot of hope for what my generation can change. I know we have the power to create change now and in the future. 

Do you plan to continue your advocacy work? What form do you imagine that will take going forward? 

Yes! I will most likely continue projects similar to what I’ve done the past couple summers – using art forms that I enjoy to fundraise for a cause I care about while raising awareness in my community. This could continue to be centered around dying upcycled bags, or it could take a different form as I experiment more with my art! 

Young woman stands with two middle age men holding hand dyed tote bags in a store