After reaching out to a few brands, I still had no corporate backing for the Bolt Bag Project. But as my grandmother always said, "one monkey don't stop no show!"
I still don't know exactly what that means, but I figure I should keep the party going with or without support. In the beginning, I purchased about 200 items myself + bags. But that is simply unsustainable.
The afternoon of my very first speaking engagement, I checked in to the hotel and headed straight for the bathroom to take a shower (it's now a ritual of mine to take a steaming hot shower prior to speaking - it's calming and opens up the lungs). When I walked in, I saw four bars of soap, lotion, mouthwash, shampoo, and conditioner. One me won't use four soaps in one night.
So I opened one soap, and put the rest of the toiletry items in my suitcase. The next trip, I did the same. And the next. And the next. And every hotel I've stayed in since, even if it's for leisure, I'll collect unused toiletry items. If you stay more than one night, guest services will replenish the items every morning (I collect every item, every single day).
And that is how hotels have inadvertently donated to domestic violence victims. See, one thing I've learned is that you don't need permission to reach a goal. You need creativity, determination, and motivation. My motivation is the memory of survival. Every time I see unused bars of soap in hotel rooms I get so excited knowing it will refresh the beautiful skin of a person who has escaped a nightmare.