Brands with Heart: Behind the Cause with iSanctuary Jewelry

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michelle3As many of you know, Style Fox is passionate about social responsibility and causes related to women. The first installment of our new column “Brands with Heart” features an inspiring non-profit company that is doing amazing things to help stop global human trafficking: iSanctuary jewelry. Based out of Orange County, California, iSanctuary helps integrate female human trafficking victims back into society by providing them with fair wage jobs making handmade jewelry.  Since 2010 iSanctuary has provided employment to over 200 women rescued from human trafficking in India as well as 10 women rescued right here in the US.

iSanctuary was founded by Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey back in 2007. Ms. Pollaro moved to India in 2006 where everyday she strives to save women from one of the most human trafficked countries in the world. She currently resides in Mumbai where human trafficking of girls and women is a $1 billion dollar industry.  Through education, awareness and jewelry sales, iSanctuary is helping save trafficked women one piece of jewelry at a time. We had a chance to get an inside scoop from Michelle Johnson, anti-human trafficking advocate and iSanctuary’s PR rep.

What is your background? What inspired you to get involved with iSanctuary? Was it a specific event or a general desire to help stop human trafficking?
Michelle: I actually have my degree in Business Marketing, and had worked at a few different companies in Marketing right out of college. Then I decided to do something totally different and went on a year long mission/volunteer trip to 11 different countries around the world! I lived out of a backpack for the year, and basically experienced human trafficking right in front of my own eyes. Before this, I had hardly even heard about trafficking, and was blown away by the injustice. I knew my life was going to change, and I knew I wanted to help fight this issue in whatever way possible. I couldn’t believe it was happening in the US too! I came back from that trip to my home in Southern California, and wanted to volunteer with some organization that was working to end human trafficking. That’s when I stumbled across iSanctuary. I started as a volunteer, helping with marketing and sales, and then about a year and a half ago, they hired me on full time!
Michelle wears the 'Chevron' brass necklace.

Michelle wears the ‘Chevron’ brass necklace.

What has been the most rewarding so far? Any specific stories about women who were saved from human trafficking that you would like to share?

Michelle: What has been most inspiring so far has been my experience to work here in our office with the survivors that we serve here in Southern California. They come into our office three times a week, and we are able to give them the essential job skills and training they need to be able to get a full time job elsewhere. We have seen them transform, gain a confidence they didn’t have before, and become comfortable in a professional work environment.
As you know, human trafficking is one the biggest global crimes, yet it’s largely under reported. Why do you think that is?
Michelle: I think it’s largely under reported, first of all, because it is definitely a hidden crime. It is super hard to trace, and many victims are treated as criminals. There is also still a huge lack of awareness on the issue.
The jewelry is beautiful and on-trend! What materials does iSanctuary primarily use?
Michelle: Thank you so much! Our Founder, Stephanie Pollaro, designs all of our pieces, and has been over in India for the past six years training the women how to make the items. She is super gifted and creative! We primarily use base metals, pearls, acrylic, and stones. Most of the materials come from the Indian markets.
What are your favorite pieces from iSanctuary?
Michelle: I have quite a few favorites, but right now I’m obsessed with the Chevron Brass Necklace, the Barbed Bangles, the Eye of the Tiger Necklace and the Aztec Earrings.
 
What can others do to get involved and help out with iSanctuary?
Michelle: Others can get involved in a number of ways! Definitely purchasing the jewelry! The more jewelry we are able to sell, the more women we are able to employ! Another great way to get involved would be to host an iSanctuary Trunk Show for your friends and family to be able to purchase with purpose! You can also donate to iSanctuary here: http://isanctuary.org/donate

 Here are a few of Style Fox’s favorite pieces. You can shop iSanctuary online at www.isanctuary.org.

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Desiree Rabuse is a social entrepreneur and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of StyleFox® Media. She’s been in the entertainment/media business for over a decade, working both in front of and behind the camera. She loves traveling, martial arts, philosophy, coffee, and helping people lead healthy, happy, more efficient lives.

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