Did you know – In some cases, it may take 6-7 attempts for a victim of human trafficking to exit the Life before a permanent exit occurs. This happens for multiple reasons, one being the emotional bond to the trafficker, but also, oftentimes the traffickers use physical violence and financial control as a way to intimidate and control women, preventing them from leaving. (Stephany Powell Source)
While it’s such a heart-breaking statistic to think someone who was quite literally rescued out of a horrible situation would ever return, it really sheds light on the hopelessness survivors feel when they don’t have a way to see a better life for themselves, including the ability to get meaningful employment. You see, due to these unimaginable situations, many survivors have police records and have trouble finding jobs after being rescued. Some of them were taken young so they didn’t have the chance to get a high school degree or learn a trade or skill. In the same article source above, she states, “We really need the business community to align with the fight against human trafficking and the continued sustainability of these victims. We need those that have the knowledge to be able to support the development of life skills and help them become employable.” If we truly want to end human trafficking, we as a community, have to step in and help end the cycle.
This is where we introduce you to our October Purposeful People partner of the month: Freedom Studios. Back in 2019 the founders of Freedom Studios attended a luncheon put on by a local non-profit who helped human trafficking survivors. At the luncheon they stated that one of the greatest obstacles a survivor faces when coming out of her situation is employment, and if she doesn’t have stable employment, the necessity to go back to the Life is very prevalent. It was at that moment that they wanted and believed they could meet that need through Freedom Studios.
In 2020, they launched their small business, a bath and body company, and they’ve since employed over 20 survivors! “We aim to create products you will love while also raising awareness of the issue of human trafficking, but ultimately we want to give survivors the keys to unlock a new and better chapter in their lives through meaningful employment.” Said Beth Gammel, co-founder of Freedom Studios.
Freedom Studios not only employees survivors of human trafficking but they also help aid in their healing because the act of actually making the products with their hands is a form of therapy, while also giving them pride in creating beautiful products for people to enjoy.
Beth mentioned, “We employ survivors from all different ages, races and walks of life. This truly is a crime hidden in plain sight and it doesn’t discriminate.” She told us a story of one of her employees that was trafficked for four years before being rescued. She was told she would never see her children again, but through the work she does with freedom Studios and with the support systems they partner with, she now has her own home, and has been reunited with her children. She’s now a shift leader and has become a mentor to some of their newer employees too. “You see how they are when they first start with us, and to see the transformation from darkness to light is truly amazing. We want them to be proud of the work they are doing, and proud of themselves for taking one step at a time to rebuild their lives.”
Beth said that they are inspired daily by their employees’ resilience, work ethic, attention to detail and just their desire to move forward with their lives. There are countless stories, but two of their employees are in the process of getting degrees to become a counselor and a social worker because they want to play a role in using their own story to help other people too. Beth said, “The overarching theme we see with these women is how something truly beautiful can come from such a place of brokenness.” Beth told us that they want to create beautiful products that people will enjoy and pamper themselves with, but hope that they feel the love put into each product when it was created too! We’ll leave you with this last quote, “We want to be a voice of light, truth and hope in this dark world.”
Ugh, is anyone else crying yet? I’m so truly moved by Beth and her team, as well as the amazing work they are doing! This brand truly embodies why I created Purposeful People. I’ve personally used all of their products and can say they are some of my favorite candles and bath products, while also truly making a positive impact in this world too. I hope you’ll choose to shop some of their products along with me; they all would make perfect Christmas gifts for friends and family!
Join us tonight for an Instagram Live at 6pm EST where I’ll interview one of the founders of Freedom Studios, Beth Gammel. Can’t wait to share their story with you!