Q & A: Michelle Johnson – PURPOSE Jewelry
Michelle Johnson (Head of Distribution) talks about the ministry that empowers and brings hope to survivors of human trafficking in Orange County and Mumbai, India.
By Sarah Komisky
Every woman wants to know they are beautiful. It’s something innate within us to be lovely. Something put there by God. At PURPOSE Jewelry, God is using these hand crafted items to do just that. They are jewelry that adorn women and make them feel beautiful but to also jewelry that is healing the women who are making them. PURPOSE Jewelry’s Michelle Johnson discusses the amazing story of how God is using International Sanctuary to spearhead PURPOSE Jewelry and to help rehabilitate women who were trafficked. This is the story of how God is flourishing the feminine heart through beauty.
Tell me a little about PURPOSE Jewelry and how it got started?
PURPOSE Jewelry is the social enterprise of International Sanctuary (iSanctuary), a nonprofit organization empowering survivors of human trafficking for eight years. The brand was launched in September 2014, and has been the means of employment for the young women we serve in Mumbai, India. Each piece of jewelry is hand signed by the woman who made it!
Why was this brand important to launch?
Launching PURPOSE was extremely important in being able to clearly communicate the work we are doing at iSanctuary. Through PURPOSE, iSanctuary provides employment, job training, and paychecks to young women. But these women need so much more than that. At iSanctuary, we provide holistic care that addresses a wide variety of needs, including education, medical and dental, counseling, mentoring and scholarships. Our hope is that the PURPOSE brand will infiltrate the fashion world, telling the story of hope, strength and perseverance!
Talk a little bit about the impact in Mumbai and in Orange County?
In Mumbai, iSanctuary works with survivors who have been rescued from sex trafficking. The sanctuary is a safe and accepting environment, built around community. Since 2007, iSanctuary has served over 300 young women and girls aged 12 to 25 rescued from sex trafficking. Through iSanctuary’s program girls receive education, counseling, medical care and employment. Survivors are empowered to create a better life for themselves and obtain true freedom.
At the Orange County, CA based sanctuary, trafficking survivors receive education, medical care, counseling, and job training. Survivors are also taught computer, and financial skills so they will be able to successfully transition from the program and be independent. The program is designed to empower women, and give them hope for the future.
How do you think God uses jewelry as offering something beautiful to help heal women?
Jewelry making definitely plays a part in the healing process of our young women. They are finally able to see they are capable and skilled to create such gorgeous items. Our women love knowing their pieces are sold in the US, and people love the jewelry! Jewelry making allows the young women to start to believe they are worthy and dignified, giving them hope for the future.
How have you personally be impacted by PURPOSE Jewelry?
I have been involved with iSanctuary for about three years, and recently traveled to India to meet the young women we work with in Mumbai for the first time. Stepping through the doors of our sanctuary there, I immediately sensed the love, support, and encouragement the environment exuded. There truly is a community amongst the young women. They genuinely care about one another and desire to achieve goals and dreams. This was the moment when it hit me – The work we are doing is worth it, and it is working!
What do you want others to know about human trafficking?
Human trafficking does exist, and in so many more places than you probably know, including here in the US. Without becoming aware and educated on this issue, we can’t tackle the injustice or even think about beginning to end it. There are signs to recognize trafficking, so please become educated on the information, and then share with your friends and family as well. Whatever your passion or skill might be, maybe it’s painting or singing, use it for bigger, more creative purposes in helping bring about an end to modern day slavery.
How can others help?
It’s pretty simple: The more jewelry we sell, the more women we are able to serve! Hosting a trunk show is a great way to truly make a difference, as well as to spread the word to others. Here is a link with all of the info, and how to sign up: http://www.purposejewelry.org/pages/trunk-show