NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A Nashville-based jewelry company is encouraging and empowering survivors of human trafficking by hiring them to create jewelry.
The Branded Collective produces handmade necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets. The company partners with the non-profit, End Slavery Tennessee, to hire women who are involved in their recovery program.
The company was started in 2012 by Lauren Carpenter and Emily Mahoney with a goal of increasing awareness of human trafficking and helping survivors.
Each piece of jewelry features a number, and the initials of the person who made it. Once purchased, each piece of jewelry can be registered on the company’s website, and messages of encouragement can be sent to survivors. The story of each survivor who creates the jewelry is also posted online.
Carpenter said captors often brand victims of human trafficking with a tattoo or physical marking as a way of showing ownership. However, she hopes the numbers and letters branded on the jewelry help spread the stories of survivors, and enlighten their customers.
“We want people to look at the piece and say, what do those initials mean? Or what does that number mean?” said Carpenter.
Mahoney said 25 different survivors of human trafficking have worked with the company. She says making the jewelry can be therapeutic for them, and also provide survivors with a paycheck that helps them improve their lives.
“It’s pretty powerful to watch these young women,” said Carpenter. “We laugh, we crack jokes, and we also have days where we cry and get angry. It is all part of the recovery process.”
Since the company started, it has created more than 50,000 pieces of jewelry.
Carpenter and Mahoney hoped the company would continue to grow so they can hire more survivors. They also would like to duplicate the model in other cities.
For more information on where you can buy Branded Collective jewelry visit: https://www.brandedcollective.com/
This story was originally published by Emily Luxen at WTVF.