Our BRANDED Family,
Co-Founders Emily and Lauren here. It’s a joy to introduce this “Letters” Page. This is where you will meet our rock-star employees. Each cuff made here at the BRANDED Collective has been hand stamped by a survivor. What an honor it is to employ them and watch them learn the craft of jewelry making. They are driven, capable, kind employees and we are beyond proud of their work.
Thank you for allowing us this gift. Your purchases and your advocacy in spreading the word make this company possible. The more we grow, the more survivors we will hire. How proud we are of this venture. How grateful we are that you make it possible. Thank you.
We know you would love to meet the woman who made your cuff. Given the difficult circumstances many of them navigate, we must protect their identities and are not permitted to share their names or photos. So…
We’ve come up with a fun way for you to meet our powerhouse interns. On every cuff you will find a tiny letter(s). Below we have listed the matching letter(s). Accompanying the letter(s) is a toast to the young woman we know and love. We are thrilled to introduce to you the smart, funny, unique, brave survivor who hand-stamped your cuff.
We cannot thank you enough for making this dream possible. Your part in this story is crucial. Welcome to the BRANDED Family. We are so proud to have you.
With all our love and gratitude,
Lauren (0100) & Emily (0025)
P.S. Cuffs 0001 through 1055 do not have letters. Though many of the early cuffs were made by survivors, some of them were made by us and our friends and family. We did not begin the letter practice until cuff #1056. Also, if you have a cuff with a letter not represented below, that means we are working on the bio now. Check back soon!
Spunky and sassy, A always speaks her mind - and we love her for it. Her favorite food is sushi, and if she could have any superpower, she would want to be invisible so she could sneak in the fridge and eat it anytime she wants. (Smart!) She dreams about someday living in a big, roomy three-story house because she wants to be a foster parent and will need a place to fit all of her future kids. If she could live anywhere in the world she would want to live in a big city like New York where she could walk everywhere. Her favorite music is hip hop (shout out to Kevin Gates!). In her life, A says that she has learned two valuable lessons: don’t run away and stay in school. She wants young people to know that when you run away, it puts you in bad situations. That’s why she’s at End Slavery Tennessee, healing, learning and taking the next step toward her high school diploma. Well done, A!
The first thing we noticed upon meeting AG is that she’s extremely smart. Quickly catching onto the ins and outs of our BRANDED work, AG does every task with care. Kind and gentle, AG is also strong, resilient and a fighter. In her own words: “I should be dead. I shouldn’t be alive, but I feel like God kept me alive through all those years because He has a plan for me.” Now AG is moving forward, with plans to become a mortuary tech. She also wants to live in a big cabin in sunny Florida so she can sit on the beach. (She laughs, noting that RU would probably live down the street.) AG says she enjoys working for BRANDED because she IS branded. “It’s like I’m helping other girls who have been branded too. I know what it feels like.” AG, you’re a bright, shining light on our BRANDED team and we are so proud to have you as an employee! May we all have the courage to take your advice to heart: “Always dream of things that are far more than your expectations.” Thank you, AG. We are excited to see how you’ll soar!
There are so many things we could say about AW, but we'll start with this: she’s absolutely hilarious! AW is often the instigator of peals of laughter as we work, and she does funny impressions of everyone she meets. She loves gospel music, and her favorite food is liver and gravy. When she graduates from the End Slavery Tennessee program, she wants to own her own hair salon and be an illustrator on the side. And boy, can AW do hair! She even does her own - and we never know what amazing style she’ll show up with next. AW says her favorite part of working for BRANDED is that it helps her focus on making jewelry rather than what she’s going through. And let us tell you - AW does excellent work! She stays concentrated and rarely makes a mistake. When we asked her what she would like to tell people about her life, she says one simple thing: “Let God do His will and not yours.” How true, AW. Thank you for inspiring us to stay the path each and every day.
What do we say about B? She is one of those precious humans that quite literally brings laughter into the room. She is thoughtful and bright, she is a smart and driven worker. This girl can stamp more cuffs in ten minutes than we ever expected possible. She’s precise and serious about her work, but willing to laugh as she goes. Her music request is always country (shout out to Jason Aldean!) and she’s proud of it. This girl takes True Grit to a new level. A two-story log cabin is her dream house and her favorite color is blue. She has a love for Chinese food and her preferred super-power is invisibility. If she could have any talent in all the world and be the best, she would want to dance and sing - which is not at all surprising because she’s a true delight!! One day while cuff-making, we started talking about our challenging weeks. It had been for all of us a difficult string of days. B thought about it for a bit then said it reminded her of her favorite quote: “Sometimes you gotta fall before you can fly.” How very wise. Thank you, B. You remind us to have hope on the tough days, hope that better days are on their way. We will be stronger for living well through the dark ones. Needless-to-say, B is extraordinary. It is our honor to call her a BRANDED Intern.
The hard reality is that survivors of human trafficking are going through a major healing process, and it’s extremely tough. We worked with BP for only one day before she left the safety and care of End Slavery Tennessee and our jobs program to go back to the game. We think and pray for her daily. Would you join us in doing the same?
CD is a woman who is shy at first but quick to smile. Her favorite food is pizza and her favorite music is rap (shout out to Lil Wayne!). As for her dream house… she says she wants to live in a hot pink mansion somewhere on the beach in California. (“I love hot weather!”) If she could have any superpower, she would want to fly, and her dream talent would be to sing and dance. Her favorite part about making jewelry with BRANDED is the people. For her life’s work she either wants to be a cosmetologist or a chef - she can’t quite decide. And heck, why not both?! To all of the young people out there, her advice to you is this: “Go to college!” and “Don’t trust everybody.” We encourage you to take her advice. CD is a hard worker and a woman of wisdom!
When we think of D, we think of the word “mama.” She is gentle and nurturing but also hard working and tough. D quickly found her groove on our BRANDED team as one of our expert “number stampers.” She says stamping cuffs relaxes her, and she is always meticulous and careful in her work. D dreams of one day living in the Caribbean and starting a career in social work. She wants a white picket fence and a big breezy house where she can enjoy island life. D also likes to write poetry, and carries a notebook with her everywhere she goes. She says that if she could have any superpower, she would like to take all the pain away from the world. What an excellent hope! When asked about her past, D says that her experiences have made her who she is today. She says that no matter how bad or how good life has been, she’s grateful for each step. In fact, her favorite quote states it perfectly: “It is what it is.” D, you’re headed for greatness! We believe in you so much. Thank you for your time with us at BRANDED Collective.
This woman is a dream. She cracks us up! Her favorite food is soul food, her favorite color is blue and her dream house is a log cabin in California. As for her choice in music: “I’m on my Spotify all day long. I love music… period.” E is one of our interns who sings while she works, and sometimes does a little dancing. She is a true joy, honest and hard-working. Her dream is to one day be a consultant to help get marginalized girls into halfway houses and recovery programs. She knows how helpful it is to have someone who understands, someone who has similar experiences: “We want people to understand where we’ve been. I try to balance everything I have to do and it’s not easy. Trying to find the balance between being the house mom, everything I have to do for myself, therapy, time with my loved ones and people who need support… It’s a lot - I get overwhelmed a lot.” Despite all that, E remains laid back and so easy to be with. We’ve asked her what she’s learned from her life experiences and all the struggle. Her answer helped us see where that laid-back attitude is grounded: “I’ve learned faith and patience. I found my faith in jail and I was taught a whole lot of patience. Everything happens at exactly the right time. Quit trying to rush it, just chill out.” We often need this reminder. Thank you, E, for sharing it!
EW has one of the most unassuming and kind temperaments we’ve encountered. Her humility and desire to please make her an utter joy to work alongside. But make no mistake, she is not without an edge. Her favorite music is rap and her favorite artist is Nicki Minaj. If she could have any superpower she would want Endless Mental Strength. EW’s favorite food is Chinese food, and chicken lo mein is her preferred dish. When asked about her dream house she said, “just two stories for me and my family, nothing real big.” She wants it to be in Florida where the weather is always warm. Her life dream is to be a drug and alcohol counselor. She says, “I think it’s a lot easier to do that when you have gone through it yourself.” She has enjoyed her time at BRANDED and wants our buyers to know she is grateful you have joined the mission: “A lot of people don’t really know about what we go through and don’t care to hear about it, but y’all do.” EW is wise beyond her years and reminded us that “no matter what I have done in my past, it doesn’t define who I am today.” We are so grateful for these words of hope and encouragement. Thank you, EW!
We knew H for only a short time, but the impression she made on the group and the smiles she brought with her were huge. When she entered our workspace she gave us a big grin and said, “What’s crackin’?!” She had us laughing before we even knew her name. What a hilarious and wonderful woman! H is also fluent in Spanish and served as a translator for us, allowing us to communicate with a young Spanish woman we had not yet been able to talk to due to the language barrier. H’s willingness to help and her kind, gentle spirit brought us great joy. We wish you well, H!
J is amongst the most unassuming women you will ever meet. She is not one to say much but when she does, it matters. She is methodical and careful in her work. She’s wonderfully hospitable, quick to laugh and has a masterful wit. Generosity is perhaps the word that best describes her. She worked not to be the best or do the most, but rather to support the whole. What an honor to know J for the short time we did! If you wear a J, know that you wear an absolute gem. Thank you, J. We are so glad to know you. Onward!
JP officially worked with us for only a day, but we certainly won’t forget her! We would describe her as a ball of feisty energy. She loves rap music and any good opportunity to joke or give someone a hard time. As she worked, she teased us with questions like: “When do we get to stop?” or “When is my break?” She’s sincere to her core and unafraid to be a firecracker. We thank you for your energy and hard work, JP!
This gal is a gift. She is a deep thinker. One day while we were listening to our favorite country music station, a song about a daddy came up. It told the story of a man who left the lime-light of fame and glory to take better care of his wife and kiddos, to spend more time at home. K thought about it for a moment then said, “That’s a real cowboy.” A very wise observation indeed. Her favorite food is any kind of fresh berry; especially blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Her favorite color is bright teal. If she could live anywhere in the world she would want to live on an island. Her dream house is a white log cabin made with creek rock. Her super power would be speed and her choice of talent is ice-skating. She also loves to sing while she works and has a lovely voice. Her dream job is to be a figure skater singer… How cool is that! K is also quick to laugh and has a wonderful, quirky sense of humor. Her favorite quote? “I do not like green eggs and ham.” Again, this girl is wise.
Talk about a powerhouse woman! KL is most certainly that. Her work is stellar and her willingness to share the lessons she's learned from her life experience is abundant. This girl is wildly generous. Her dream job is to help raise awareness about trauma and to work closely with teenage girls who have been through experiences like hers. KL’s ability to articulate her story is a gift. She has told us, “I’m very much a perfectionist and an extremist. But I’ve learned that being perfectly balanced means being imperfectly balanced. It’s important to just accept that and not go against it.” We asked her what it is she would want to teach the young women she dreams of helping. Her response was grounded in an amazing amount of empathy and forgiveness: “Put yourself in other people’s shoes. People always have reasons why they do the things they do. Even though it may not be right, understanding why people do the things they do is important. Usually it’s because they were hurt, or from a learned behavior. Understanding this has helped me to find more peace in my life.” What a delight it is to call this lady a BRANDED Intern. Like us, she has an affinity for healthy food, salmon and kale are her faves. Her favorite color is red. She loves just about any music. Her super power would be teleportation. If she could live anywhere in the world she would choose Thailand: “Because it is a beautiful and spiritual place.” Her dream home is quite impressive: a contemporary art-deco beach house (70s style) surrounded with large glass walls and lots of art inside. Her dream job is to be a world renowned artist. Yes.. KL is pretty rockin’ awesome!
L is simply a great human being! She’s kind, bubbly and full of life. L is always the first to welcome new faces to our team and immediately makes you feel at home when you meet her. She has a certain affinity for comedy and 80’s pop culture, and says that if she could have any talent, she would love to be a rapper. In fact, L lovingly assigns rapper names to her friends (and we’re all proud of ours!). L is artistic and creative, and has a knack for fixing our stamping mistakes on the BRANDED team. She says that every time she stamps a BRANDED cuff, she feels like another girl’s life is getting saved. How powerful! L dreams of becoming a hair and makeup artist - and we know she can and WILL do it! She’s also full of great advice, always offering a helping hand and encouraging word to her sisters at End Slavery Tennessee. When asked what she would like to tell young people, she says: “You’re more than just your looks - so much more. You’re more than just your story. At any time in your life, you can choose to close one book and open a new chapter. Your strength lies within.” Well said, L. We love you, girl!
Meeting 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.”
RJ is one intelligent, determined, funny woman with a positive attitude and a bright future ahead of her! She says that she dreams of opening her own cleaning business once she has completed the End Slavery Tennessee (ESTN) program. She has always loved cleaning houses and she already knows what she’ll name her business - although we’re not telling, because it’s a good one. :) RJ says she’s already living in her dream house - in her new safe house and her own room at ESTN. She says, “I love my bathroom and my closet. You could fit a whole bed in my closet - that’s how big it is!” If she could live anywhere, RJ would want to live in Paris because of the beautiful architecture and art. Her favorite food is pizza, and her favorite type of music is R&B slow jams (shout out to Mariah Carey!). RJ says what brings her the most joy in life is definitely her kids, who keep her going. She also wants to encourage other people who are going through struggles with her favorite quote: “This too shall pass.” She has learned a lot in her life by being a survivor, being strong and keeping her head up through all of it. She says, “I know I can get through it and I will never give up.” RJ, you inspire us with your determination and steadfast spirit! May we all work with the tenacity and joy that RJ has shown in her work at BRANDED. Thank you for being a wonderful example.
RO is the one of the happiest and sweetest people we’ve ever met. It comes as no surprise that what brings her the most joy is being with other people. She is an absolute delight and never meets a stranger! RO says that if she could have any talent, she would want to sing beautifully. (She even has an app on her phone she uses to record her singing voice and make her roommate laugh. :)) She says that if she could be a superhero, she’d want to be Wonder Woman, with a star on her forehead. The Wonder Woman cartoon was her favorite as a kid. RO is not originally from the U.S., but she has acclimated quickly and enjoys life in America. Her favorite foods are hamburgers and pizza. In fact, she told us on her first day of work that she loves both Burger King and Nashville! When asked what she likes about working for BRANDED, she exclaims: “Everything!” She says she has a great time with the BRANDED team and loves making jewelry. In fact, we love working with her too! RO has an excellent eye for detail and works with incredible speed. She wants each person who buys one of her pieces to know that it was made with love and care, and she is so grateful to have a job. When asked about her favorite quote, she mentioned this verse she recently memorized in English and repeats to herself often: “If God is with me, who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31) How right you are, RO. We so look forward to watching RO grow and learning all she has to teach us too!
RU says if she could live in any house, she’d live in a hot pink mansion in Florida, where she would go to the beach every day. This says a lot about our friend RU, who is as full of attitude as she is silly. RU dreams of becoming a nurse because she wants to help people get through their illnesses. When we asked her what she would want to have as a superpower, she said she would like to save all of the innocent girls. We see a lot of hope for RU, who wants to encourage young people to make smart decisions and hang around wise people. RU offers one more piece of advice in a quote she returns to often: “This too shall pass.” Thank you, RU, for your work for BRANDED and for urging young people to reach higher.
T is a hoot and a half, hilarious and talkative and down-right fun. She was only with BRANDED for a short while but every minute was a blast. One of her many attributes is her advocacy for her fellow survivors and for young girls growing up in such a difficult world. Her empathy and ability to understand runs deep and wide. T does not seem to be at all afraid of the hard questions, of the controversy and the messiness of healing. Even in the short time she was at BRANDED, it was clear she had her sisters’ backs. She’s unafraid to speak the truth and to tell you her story. She hopes her story can help other young women. On that note, we’ll not put words in her mouth. T is more than able to speak for herself: learn more in her video.
TL is smart, strong and reserved. A true joy and a deep thinker. She has asked to remain uninterviewed. We respect her and will simply say to all of you who wear a cuff marked with TL… Thank you, she is a beautiful soul, inside and out!
Have you ever met someone who never ceases to surprise you, and about the time you think you know all their talents, they throw another one at you? Well, that's V! When we make cuffs with V she always brightens the space. She is light-hearted, smart and sassy, and has an intellect that keeps you on your toes. When we asked her what she wanted people to know about her she said, “Not everyone who is a survivor is uneducated. That’s a common mistake people make in their thinking. But we really are smart.” She most certainly is. She has a masters in music and wants to own her own dance and music studio one day. In fact, she already has. She is an artist and a business woman. Her goal is to teach music and dance to children with behavioral issues and mental disabilities. Her knowledge of music is expansive, she always brings new names for us to enjoy while we work. Her favorites are Suzanne Buirgy and Crystal Wells. Her favorite color is purple, her favorite food is Thai, and her dream home is an apartment in the tippy-top of a city sky-rise. One thing is for sure, V loves rhythm and she brings it with her. Whether its the rhythm of a city or a song or a room full of BRANDED artisans, V brings music and movement and we adore her for it! She seems to understand that life is always moving. In her words: “The hardest thing about being alive is that no matter how much you grow, how much you change, you are never done.” It is hard, but V is quite obviously up for the challenge and her presence makes the ride most wonderful. Thank you, V!
Watch this video to learn more about our incredible partners at End Slavery Tennessee.