News Channel 2: Nashville Company Fights Against Human Trafficking in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — With the holiday’s right around the corner, you might be searching for that perfect, unique gift that give’s back to your local community.

Emily Mahoney and Lauren Carpenter are producing American-made, handcrafted jewelry right here in Nashville.

It’s jewelry that is also helping to end human trafficking in Tennessee.

“Ninty-four children are trafficked through Tennessee a month. If you told me 94 kids were trafficked in Tennessee in history, I would be shocked, but it’s a month. When you hear those numbers you want to get involved,” said Emily.

Emily and Lauren are artisans and entrepreneurs, but as Emily put it, they’re not equipped to help provide medical or psychological help to those women who have survived human trafficking. Instead, they’ve used their talents to become advocates.

The women started Branded Collective, a collection of metal cuffs and jewelry, a few years ago.

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the jewelry they sell goes to the non-profit organization End Slavery Tennessee, which helps survivors.

Those women also help to hand make the beautiful pieces.

“The survivors are actually going through a program of rehabilitation at End Slavery Tennessee where they’re receiving therapy and counseling, and we provide their job training. Branded Collective comes along beside them to provide training for them until they can get into full time employment,” said Lauren.

Each cuff is “branded” with a little initial of the woman who helped to make it, and with a number. Many victims of human trafficking are branded with tattoos or numbers.

“Branding is a way of depersonalizing the human, taking the name from them, and identifying them as a product, something you can buy and sell that’s disposable. What we’re doing, the reason we picked the name branded, is we’re taking that awful practice and in a sense attempting to redeem it,” said Emily.

You can visit their website to read the story of the survivor that branded your one of a kind cuff.

Lauren spends time with the women while they are branding and polishing the cuffs, and she said the transformation of the victims during their time with the company is remarkable.

“When we start working with them, they’re kind of quiet and kind of reserved and at the end they’re lively and bold and daring. It’s so fun to watch their transformation.”

You can find Branded Collective’s pieces on their website, or at these stores in our area:

  • Billie Jeans
  • Cotton Mill Boutique
  • Hey Rooster
  • Home Again Antiques & Gifts
  • Iddy & Oscar’s
  • O.Liv Body Bar
  • Serendipity
  • Tennessee Chic
  • The Well
  • Thistle Farms Shared Trade

Continue to WKRN website to watch interviews and full video news story (below).