Fashion with a message
Bracelets from 3Strands aim to stop human trafficking, while helping its victims start a new life.
My story in the paper today is about 808 Urban's Mai'a Project, which aims to pair young artists with social justice organizations toward products geared toward raising consciousness.
It's a way of getting more people thinking about how to utilize their talents for greater good, and how the fashion industry can transcend commercial interests to send important messages.
In the case of the inaugural Mai'a Project, which celebrates its launch from 2 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 at The Refuge, 683 Auahi St., young women partnered with the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery (PASS) to create a T-shirt design reflecting the journey from darkness to light.
Another brand that aims to put an end to human trafficking is 3Strands Global, which puts designs to work supporting organizations such as Agape International Missions (AIM). AIM’s programs help provide women with a safe environment to live and work after they have been rescued.
3Strands was initially created to fund the Agape Training Center operated by AIM in Svay Pak. The Agape Training Center is a small jewelry and apparel training center that employs the women eight hours each day. During that time they receive counseling and educational services, as well as lunch and medical benefits. Their salaries are three to four times higher than what typical garment factories located in Cambodia pay. This community, where rehabilitation meets vocation, is built upon respect and compassion for one another in a family environment.
A recent documentary called "The Pink Room" focuses on the efforts of AIM and has received awards and recognition by international film festivals.
With the sale of every 3Strands handmade bracelet and gift box ($18 online), money is raised to help empower, teach and employ young women who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
The first of the 3Strands products, wax-cotton woven bracelets with a signature 3Strands metal closure, are all handmade by rescued young women. Each bracelet is made to remind the wearer of the trafficking survivor who made it.
The three pieces of cord comprising the bracelet symbolize the freedom, love and empowerment these women experience, braided together and not easily broken. The incorporation of a single red string, barely visible inside the center of each bracelet, illustrates the souls of these women, invisible to those who bought and sold them in the past.
Every bracelet also incorporates one fragile, red seed from the pods of sandalwood trees native to Cambodia. One would never guess these glossy seeds come from colorless pods that are cast away, reminding the women of their journey and their beauty within.