BRANDED: Changing the Story of Human Trafficking

The BRANDED Collective is an artisan accessories company using handcrafted jewelry to economically empower and provide a pathway to healing for survivors of sex trafficking. Through collaboration with End Slavery Tennessee, BRANDED employs survivors to produce their jewelry, allowing the women to collaborate with local artisans, design pieces and earn a stable income. 

 

Aside from giving survivors the opportunity to be financially empowered and self-sufficient, what makes BRANDED so special is how they factor the survivors’ stories into every piece of jewelry they make. Many victims of human trafficking are branded with a number or symbol by their captors. Whether through a forced tattoo, a burn or a knife cut, the process of leaving the physical mark is often violent and painful. The BRANDED Collective stands against this brutal practice. That’s why each item they make is stamped with an initial and a number. The initial belongs to the survivor who made your cuff, whose story you can read on their website. The number is your unique number in the Collective. When you register this number via their site, you can send a Message of Hope to their survivors.

 

When you wear a BRANDED product you are an abolitionist. We invite you to look for ways to share the story and multiply the abolitionist community.

 

BRANDED hopes to create impact in three ways; through professional development, economic empowerment and spreading awareness. This process, of standing against branding practices and sharing survivor stories, rounds out the third part of BRANDED’s three-fold mission.  The social enterprise likes to say that each time you wear a piece of BRANDED jewelry, you are “an abolitionist.” By wearing these cuffs that have been lovingly made and marked by the women who have survived, you are given an opportunity to share their stories, spread awareness and “multiply the abolitionist community.”

 

  

 

This also allows BRANDED to provide a supportive environment for these women who have overcome so much, a top priority for the company. During the holidays, which can be stressful  for many of the survivors, BRANDED practices a daily gratitude initiative. Each day,  women can write on a large erase board one thing that they’re grateful for that day. By giving the women a space to create, avenues to encourage hope and a platform to share their stories without fear or exposure, the enterprise becomes a safe and healing space.

 

We exist to empower survivors of human trafficking through meaningful work and economic independence.

 

The BRANDED Collective has come a long way since it was started in 2012 by co-founders Emily and Lauren. They began with stamping 100 numbers on the first 100 cuffs and, since then, they’ve gone on to stamp over 27,000 numbers onto BRANDED jewelry. Now thousands have joined the Collective. In the last few years, the company has expanded their jewelry line to include mix-metal earrings, brass necklaces and lariats. They even partnered with fellow Social Enterprise Alliance member and social enterprise Mission Lazarus to create the “Walk in Freedom” collection. The collection pairs genuine Honduran leather wrap from Mission Lazarus with the hand-stamped brass from BRANDED Collective; “Walk in Freedom” is engraved on each piece.

 

The two hope that with BRANDED, they can empower survivors of human trafficking to rise above the branding and the trauma they have been given. “We hope each survivor will be inspired to rediscover the dreams she has lost and be motivated to go forth and pursue them. We seek to unite a collective of survivors and patrons who work together to advance the abolition of human trafficking.” Together we can wear the story, share the story and change the story.

 



To learn more about BRANDED Collective, check out their member directory profile.

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