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Letters to You

New Spring Line + We Just Hit 20,000!

Lots of exciting things are happening at BRANDED Collective but we have been slacking on our blogging skills. :) For that, we apologize and we'll try to make it up to you. For starters, we just added three new pieces to our collection:

Sterling Silver Bar Necklace: $48

Medium Aluminum Cuff: $35

Large Aluminum Cuff: $45

We love the combination of all three of these pieces together. What do you think?

Also another HUGE announcement is that we just stamped our 20,000th product! We are continually grateful to each of you for your support of our mission to empower and employ survivors of trafficking in middle Tennessee. We love this moment from our #20,000 celebration:

We just updated and strengthened our story page, too. Check out the new and improved story page to learn why we do what we do.

Onward and upward!

We're Part of Something Big This Summer!

We are overjoyed to welcome 4,500 more BRANDEDs to the family!!! For seven weeks in April and May, we worked tirelessly to fulfill our biggest order yet. We employed seven extraordinary survivors up to three days a week and worked with 14 incredible volunteers to create over 4,500 cuffs. 

Now the exciting news is here...


We could not be more proud to be a part of this exciting initiative. CAUSEBOX is a quarterly ethical subscription box. Order one box and inside you will find eight amazing products made by companies with ethical missions. Seriously, get one! You'll be thrilled with what you find. It's a treasure box and we are so humbled to be one of the treasures inside. 

Thank you, CAUSEBOX! Thank you to all our buyers and survivors who make extraordinary days like this one possible.

And thank you to all our new BRANDEDs!  We welcome you all to our mission, our movement, and our FAMILY. 

Here we are... Over 10,000 strong! ONWARD.


How We Came to Be

One of our favorite BRANDED stories is the story of our origin. It is quite complex and one day we’ll tell you the whole thing in detail. For this blog post, we’ll keep to the highlights.

We knew we wanted to start a company that sold products and gave 25% of its profits to End Slavery Tennessee (EST). We longed to join the abolition of human trafficking but were not (are not) qualified to join the TBI or be case-workers. Our strengths are creative and entrepreneurial. A social enterprise made sense! 

We set out to sell t-shirts...
However, we needed $10,000 to start our company. How could we raise that? We decided to sell 100 aluminum cuffs for $100 each. On each cuff we stamped a number that represented the buyer's agreement to "Get BRANDED" - to become a number that symbolized one of the 27 million survivors we fight to help.

It was a long shot, but we were determined. 100 cuffs, we could do it! In less than two months we had sold all 100. Family, friends, local businesses... they saw our vision and wanted to join. We were humbled, excited and amazed.

We dove into t-shirt production inspired by our desire to raise money for EST. We did make tees, and sold just about all of them. However, we could not stop thinking about the 100 cuffs and how much they meant to the folks who had bought them. We asked the question... What if we kept selling those? What if we stamped one more, two more, maybe three more? What would happen?

This month we will have reached 9,500 cuffs sold. Yes, 9,500 and GROWING!! Can you believe that?! We’re close to 10,000 cuffs.

It did not take us long to realize we are not a t-shirt line, but a jewelry collection. And though the tees may one day come back, we have fallen in love with making jewelry and adding to our numbers each day. We are a growing family of BRANDEDs.

Thank you, each and all. And of course, a very special thank you to those first 100 folks that said yes to something so much bigger than we realized! We are now 9,500 strong. Thank you First One Hundred...

erin barnett #1 nyk huber #2 carly bergthold #3 amanda pace #4 laser one, inc. #5 given in the name of christ #6 community garage of madison #7 colleen whitver #8  bonnie keen #9 kelly davidson #10 george conners #11 beth conners #12 vonnie thomason #13 rindy schlatter #14 beverly gaia #15 priceless moments by charlotte #16 nan gurley #17 janet ivey-duensing #18 ashley collins #19 michele kolz #20 michele kolz #21 lauren thomas #22 susan hudson #23 cindy landham #24 emily landham #25 bob landham #26 cali huber #27 david blanton #28 ashley blanton #29 katie richards #30 david and lisa ask #31 michelle arwine #32 amy mcclenathan #33 barbara ritchie #34 vicki day #35 joyce jones #36 lee ann estes #37 amanda laake #38 deanna maurice #39 freedom's promise #40 diane arsenault #41 addie graham #42 nick norwood #43 elizabeth "sissy" pace #44 diane west #45 brad cowart #46 in memory of marky pace #47 nashville shakespeare festival #48 stonestreet studios nyc #49 deborah hagerty #50 lynn ross #51 megan hogan #52 cindi parmenter #53 leesa leclaire #54 ashley strawn #55 melanie jacob #56 j.r. estes #57 dawn rolland #58 compass cinema #59 just love coffee #60 gwen moore #61 eric stevens #62 beth sydell #63 mike corl #64 jill englett #65 samantha poore #66 dr. b. g. & faye norwood #67 jodi mcdaniel #68 mark and tasha lemley #69 erin turley #70 christa yandell #71 ashlee walworth #72 the contributor #73 logan yandell #74 sherri joyce #75 sarah condley #76 katie gray landham #77 dustin & courtney koctar #78 alice sullivan #79 cathi carson johnson #80 greg yandell #81 anne whitver #82 alex yandell #83 chris carpenter #84 leslie halpern #85 tricia poore #86 kori francis #87 terri cooper #88 abby fraebel #89 joe shultz #90 jan gotto shultz #91 jessica suiter #92 teresa carpenter #93 john carpenter #94 susan carson #95 jennifer mcleod hagerty #96 tara christensen #97 katy boatman #98 jr landham #99 lauren carpenter #100

Unique Women: J, T and TL

For those of you who have followed our survivor stories page, you've probably noticed they are each very different. If there is one thing we've learned through this process it is that each of these dear women is unique; they simply beam with individuality. 

It can be all too easy to let our tragedies (and the tragedies of others) identify us. Define us. We often look at the clients at End Slavery Tennessee and think of them as "Survivors." But we'd like to challenge that. We hope these stories will combat such labeling. Getting to know the woman behind the initial has done so for us, and we hope it will do the same for you. 

Sure, you can say they are survivors. That's one commonality between them. But the more we get to know each woman, the more we know this is not their fundamental truth. It is part of their story, yes. It is not who they are. They are business women, musicians, artists, philosophers, writers, nurses, entrepreneurs. They are individuals. To quote Holocaust survivor Eva Kor: "Tell these girls they are not identified by their past. It's just a reminder of their strength and will to be free." 

We urge you to claim this truth for them and for yourselves. May we all release those things that brand us. May we all see and become the individuals we are. 

Here are three individuals for you to meet today. Enjoy them. They truly are one of a kind!

Do You Wear an E or V?


One of the more difficult parts of the work we do is saying goodbye. Working with the incredible women at End Slavery Tennessee (EST) is a rollercoaster ride of high highs and low lows. They work hard, day by day, to heal from the past, the trauma, the pain of drugs and violence and haunting memories. They are without a doubt amongst the most resilient and determined souls we have ever met. We’ve learned so many lessons from the women at EST. One of those lessons is far from easy: At some point it’s time to move on to the next chapter, to say goodbye to where you are and take that brave step into tomorrow.

Lauren and I made cuffs with E and V for about six months. We’d sit on the floor of the offices at EST and stamp cuffs for hours. We’d play loud music and shamelessly sing along. We developed inside jokes and drank coffee and ate muffins and made fun of each other (V and I have a deep appreciation for epic film-scores, while E and Lauren would rather jam to 90's rock or hip hop).

E and V became our friends. We love them, we miss them, we are so proud of who they are. They may not know this, but they helped us build BRANDED Collective into something so much bigger than we ever imagined.

But seasons do pass and these two wonderful women have moved on. They have pursued full-time jobs elsewhere and new adventures are calling. We miss them. We always will. Thank you, E and V, for all you have done for us and for BRANDED. And in honor of all things epic, always remember what Sam said to Frodo when things got really stinkin’ hard… “There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” 

Go get ’em, you two powerhouses!!!

Love, Emily

Read more about E and V here

Meet "R"

Dear BRANDED Family, 

With this new year, we would like to start writing to you more consistently to share with you our journey and the stories of our precious survivors. They have such wisdom, such depth and kindness. The BRANDED Collective mission has taught us so much. It has changed us. We would like to offer you the same challenge. We are committed to excellence, so we will only write to you when we have excellent content. These will be stories of real people and real moments along our journey. Join us as we dive into this adventure. Together we will be “growing and learning and changing everyday” (Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass). 

Our first post will introduce you to a new survivor. We cannot share names, we will give you only an initial and a taste of her story. If you are among the 3000 plus who wear BRANDED cuffs, and yours is stamped with the letter “R”… this is her story


RMeeting R is like meeting a sunbeam. You cannot encounter her without leaving brighter. She is among the most gentle souls you will ever meet. Her work with BRANDED is excellent. She is conscientious, her quality is consistent, and her pursuit of excellence unwavering. She is an asset beyond the telling. Thank you, R, for your commitment to BRANDED! When asked what it is she likes about the work she says, “I love the whole idea. I find making cuffs peaceful and I wonder who the person is that’s gonna be wearing this.” She’s also Tennessee classy to her roots: her favorite food is venison, her favorite musician is Jack White, and if she could live anywhere in the world it would be in the Tennessee country in a big white house with a tin roof and a wraparound porch. This girl’s got soul! If she could have any superpower, she would want “an infallible photographic memory capable of erasing anything negative.” (Again, she stays positive.) If she could have any talent in the world she would want to be able to play any instrument. Her dream job is to be a veterinarian. She loves animals and if she could have any pet she would want something exotic…. “perhaps a Bengal tiger,” she says with a smile. Speaking of animals, she can make a spot-on deer noise. And her favorite quote is appropriately Emily Dickinson’s: “A wounded deer leaps the highest.” We asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to young people and our BRANDED patrons. Her answer: “What I would like to say is that things might seem really bad, but you can always get through it. And not to ever give up. Sometimes you don’t remember that in the middle of a hard time, but never give up. Because I can remember times when I would just pray for God to take my life, and I’m glad that He didn’t. I think never giving up isn’t always something you remember but it is something God does for you. ‘Cause I know I didn’t do it by myself.”

What's in a Name?

For a long time, people have been asking us…Why t-615? What does the name mean?

To which we reply: “The concept of t-615 is a tribute from our home: (t) is for tribute and (615) is the Nashville area code.”

We are so proud of t-615, this company has formed from our desire to advance the abolition of human trafficking right here at home. However, for a while now we have felt like the name doesn’t quite capture exactly what we do and where we’re headed.

In April we began an exciting new venture: we now employ two survivors of human trafficking!  Through our partnership with End Slavery Tennessee, we not only give 25% of our profits to their clients, we also provide them with needed work. The survivors are trained in the art of metal stamping and now make all of our BRANDED cuffs. When you purchase a cuff, one of these extraordinary young ladies has actually hand-stamped your number. To us, this is a story of redemption and restoration; survivors who may have once been BRANDED themselves are now helping bring other survivors to freedom. How amazing is that?! Needless to say, this work has gotten us jazzed. And, it’s gotten us thinking…

As long as t-615 has been around, we’ve polished our rough edges and evolved with every new opportunity and every lesson learned (often the hard way!). The evolution of our company has served in refining our processes, our vision and our mission. It has brought us to where we are today. And this new day, we are THRILLED to announce our new name. We will now do business as the BRANDED Collective!

What does this mean? We’ve chosen to refocus our efforts and only sell products that directly impact the survivors we are striving to help. We will retire our clothing items and focus solely on the BRANDED Jewelry Collection; a collection hand-made in Nashville by powerhouse survivors at End Slavery Tennessee. It is our honor to work with them as we continue our journey. 

Over the next few months we’ll release many new BRANDED products. And some amazing stories too! We’re so happy to have you along for the ride. We truly could not do any of this without you! Now… 

Go Get BRANDED!! Wear the story, share the story and change the story.

Follow us on our new social media channels ☺

May 08, 2015

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