Featured Artisan: BRANDED Collective
The BRANDED Collective works with survivors of human trafficking from Nashville-based non-profit End Slavery Tennessee. BRANDED is an economic empowerment jobs programs where the women collaborate with local artisans to design and handcraft the jewelry collection.
Co-founders, Emily and Lauren, started the organization in 2012 out of the desire to help human trafficking survivors in Nashville, Tennessee. They wanted to create a fashion line that raised awareness but also donated 25% of its profits to a local organization called End Slavery Tennessee, whom is their partner today! The organization started by selling the stamped bracelets as fundraiser items while also selling clothing. In 2015, Emily and Lauren realized that the jewelry was selling better than the clothing, so they decided to focus on expanding the BRANDED jewelry line. From this point on, the Co-founders began to actually employ the survivors to make the jewelry themselves. This leap of faith completely changed their mission and purpose of the company. The stories of each individual survivor behind each bracelet added a story to the product that would touch the hearts of many.
BRANDED Collective is now a non-profit organization that not only sells a jewelry line to help raise awareness and money for human trafficking, but it now incorporates administrative and goal-setting training for their survivors as well. This includes teaching them how to use the computer and different software, how to set goals and how to achieve them, and push them in a way that is going to help them succeed! For most this is a transitional stage, where they come to be prepared and trained for future education and employment.
Some may stay for a day or some may stay for 8 months; it all depends on the individual's situation. BRANDED Collective provides a stable and safe job environment for its survivors. Survivors are giving 10 hours per work week, although it is BRANDED's dream to be able to provide more. As of right now, BRANDED Collective has touched and changed the lives of 20 survivors. Their stories and their path is on their website.
In our interview with Lauren, Co-Founder of BRANDED COLLECTIVE, she shared her favorite memory so far from her experience...
" One day we were all having kind of a tough day. One of our survivor employees said that she just had so much on her mind and she felt like she needed to write it down later. We stopped what we were doing to take a break and wrote a list of all of the accomplishments and milestones she had completed within the last 6 months. The list was HUGE - everything from spending a weekend with her son alone to getting some of her fines and fees waived. Our other employee saw what was going on and then decided she wanted to write hers out too. So now we have two dry erase boards that sit in our office and are updated as the survivors accomplish things. It’s so powerful to see it written out and posted on a wall! The first survivor mentioned in this story just celebrated one year of sobriety and we’re taking the other survivor today to get her transcripts so she can apply to get into college.
It’s been important for us to celebrate those victories along the way - and it’s definitely the best part of my job!"
Partnerships with organizations like BRANDED Collective are what drive us daily, we are thankful to walk beside them in this journey to raise awareness about the fight against human trafficking.