Photo credit: Branded Collective

The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally. A staggering 26% of them are children, and 55% are women and girls. Although there are is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the U.S., Polaris Project estimates that “the total number of victims nationally reaches into the hundreds of thousands when estimates of both adults and minors and sex trafficking and labor trafficking are aggregated.”

These numbers tell only a part of the story. There are seven brands in particular that have heard the victims’ stories first hand and are driven to change the narrative. I have gotten to know the founders of many of these brands, and I am in awe of their determination to lead the fight. More importantly, I hope they will inspire you to join them in changing the story.

Many victims of human trafficking are branded; their captors physically mark them with a number or symbol. The process is often violent: a forced tattoo, a burn or knife cut. Lauren Carpenter and Emily Landham founded BRANDED Collective, a jewelry company that employs survivors of human trafficking from Nashville-based non-profit End Slavery Tennessee. The women work with local artisans to design and handcraft the jewelry collection.

Each BRANDED Collective piece contains a unique number that represents one of the millions trapped in the nightmare of trafficking. Their vision is that the collective of purchasers, survivors, and artisans will wear the story, share the story, and change the story together.

Every Ethic Goods jewelry and leather piece is handcrafted by the woman it helps employ. Ethic Goods provides economic empowerment for women rescued from human trafficking and those at risk of exploitation. They work with communities globally, and partner with non-profits that provide holistic care (counseling, education, and health care), focus on strengthening the family unit and have demonstrated a community-centered approach. By coming alongside these magnificent ladies to develop their business skills, they have the opportunity to provide for their families and set their children on a new, hope-filled path.

Through wearing Ethic Goods, you become a meaningful part of her story and give freedom to women around the world.

PURPOSE Jewelry is beautifully crafted by young women rescued from human trafficking. By Purchasing with Purpose® you are providing freedom, dignity, and hope for these amazing artisans.

PURPOSE Jewelry has worked with hundreds of young women around the world for the past ten years. The art of jewelry making paired with holistic care ensures every artisan receives freedom and hope for the future. Holistic care is provided through their non-profit, International Sanctuary, and includes education, health care, and counseling. Their program provides every artisan with the life skills and opportunities to succeed.

MY SISTER is fighting sex trafficking one shirt at a time, through ethically sourced, statement-making apparel. Every effort, no matter how small it seems, works together to create positive change. It’s in that spirit that MY SISTER was created in 2015. Since launching, MY SISTER has raised over $104,000 for their non-profit partners, funded over 2,671 hours of survivor employment, connected with tens of thousands of people to educate and raise awareness about trafficking, and provided support for hundreds of girls and women around the world.

While living in Ethiopia, Barrett Ward saw firsthand how extreme poverty forced young women, generation after generation, to resort to prostitution as a means of supporting themselves and their families.

ABLE was founded with the goal of providing these women with the opportunity to earn a living, empowering them to end the cycle of poverty that kept them trapped. The lifestyle brand manufactures directly in the communities they wish to impact, both locally and globally, creating jobs and ending the cycle of charity dependency. ABLE has grown from producing a single collection of hand-woven scarves to a full offering that includes leather goods, hand-made jewelry, denim, and footwear.

Fay Grant and Michelle Chavez are two best friends who founded The Tote Project, with a mission to empower survivors of sex trafficking worldwide. They believe that there is hope for the millions of victims of modern day slavery, and they want to do their part to support recovering survivors in pursuing their dreams. Their fair trade tote bags and pouches are sewn in India by women who have made a choice to journey out of the sex trade and into freedom. The Tote Project donates 20% of their profits to Two Wings to help survivors of human trafficking in the United States pursue their dreams.

Raven + Lily is a lifestyle brand offering trend-forward fair trade fashion, accessories, and home furnishings with its underlying core mission to empower women on a global scale. Today, the brand employs more than 1,500 at-risk women in 10 countries around the world and counting, providing them with a fair trade wage and access to a safe job, sustainable income, healthcare, and other tools they need to thrive. Additionally, every purchase of a Raven + Lily product, whether it is artisan jewelry and handbags or handcrafted soaps and soy candles, benefits the Raven + Lily ecosystem while also funding microloans to female entrepreneurs.

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