There are so many times while we’re working in the studio with our amazing employees that we think to ourselves, “I wish our patrons could see this!” We want so badly for you to see the good your support and purchases does. Your simple piece of jewelry does enormous good in the lives of some extraordinarily brave young women.
The cuff, earring or necklace you wear actually does elicit profound change in the life of a REAL woman. To protect the identities of these women, we cannot share their names or faces with you. But here we sit, side by side with them. Each day we witness them grow and learn and share their stories. Sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we listen to music or Harry Potter or just the steady sounds of jewelry making.
We see and hear precious things each day. We are so honored to do this work and be part of these survivors’ lives. We also deeply want for you to have at least a little taste of our daily experience. So, we are starting something called Survivor Vignettes. These will be simple stories of moments we have here at BRANDED. We hope this will inspire you as we have been inspired. We hope you will see just how much profound change a simple purchase can make in the life of a brave young woman seeking a new and better story! We want to say thank you and we want to give you a taste of the JOY we receive when we witness the extraordinary good done here at BRANDED.
A Real Cowboy
This particular moment happened early on when we first started working with survivors. We didn't know the two women we were working with very well yet, so we kept our conversations light. We talked about favorite foods and movies and music. Both ladies were particularly big fans of country music (we acquired an extensive knowledge of Luke Bryan in those early days).
“Country’s Biggest Hits” Pandora station played in the background as we continued to chat and make cuffs. Then, a song by a certain celebrity came on. I (Emily) made the comment that he hadn't been around for a while, his old music still played but nothing new had come out in a few years. One of the women said, “Well, that’s because he got married and had three kids. He wants to spend time with them right now. He’s taken a sabbatical for his family.”
The other woman working was rather shy. She mostly listened to music and quietly did her work. But at this particular moment, she got very pensive and said, “Now that’s a real cowboy!”
I giggled and I thought it was a clever thing to say. But over time I’ve continued to think about this moment and have come to see it as much more than clever or comical.
Here is a young woman that has been grossly mistreated by the world, by men especially. She’d been trafficked for sex for much of her life - objectified and told she was nothing special, just a body to be used. Her life has been full of struggle and severe disappointment. As I understand it, she was first trafficked by her own family. Her childhood was stolen from her, her innocence, her physical safety and so many dreams shattered. This young woman had every reason to give up and grow bitter.
Yet, she still dared to believe in the possibility of goodness. Maybe she had never met a “real cowboy” - but she was willing to believe that there was at least one gentleman out there who treated his family with respect, who had chosen them over greed. In short…
She had hope!
Despite the extraordinary trauma in her life, there was still that little girl in her who chose to believe in beauty. It was a simple moment and a little funny too. But I think of it often. When I have a dark day or a disappointment, when I want to grow bitter or resentful… I remember this moment. It reminds me that there are good things around us. There are hard things too, yes. But, they need not steal our HOPE!