January Is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

human trafficking awareness month enews

That's not the most creative headline, but it's the first thing we wanted you to read.

Now is the time to learn about Crowned Free's purpose of mixing a serious cause with fun fashion for a winning combination.

Crowned Free is an online clothing line with a mission of raising awareness and empowering survivors of human trafficking by creating employment opportunities and donating financial resources to organizations working with rescued women. Most of the clothing is casual, everyday wear such as leggings, T-shirts and tank tops. There are also a few girl's clothing selections and accessories like bags, scarves and hats. There's even a small offering of survivor-made throw pillows for those shopping for home décor and for a way to help.


"Around 45 percent of the apparel is made by actual survivors," said Independent Sales Representative Jodi Meyer. "Some items come with a name on the tag of an actual survivor that created it and it gives you the chills."

With the at-home party market saturated with shopping opportunities, it's refreshing to know the money spent with Crowned Free is creating awareness and helping women, affecting individuals right in your neighborhood.

"It's in your own backyard," said Meyer. "Michigan is one of the top states for human trafficking."

The explanation is simple. Michigan is a border state to Canada, between Detroit and Chicago.

"It's a thoroughfare," said Heidi VanderWal, co-founder (along with Danielle DeSmit), explaining that in West Michigan there are 2,500 girls for sale at any time. "They are targeting girls with low self-confidence. Introverted girls without a lot of friends."

This is where you come in.

Women can shop online or through a representative, host a party, and join the tribe and community of women and girls that want to make a difference, linking that initiative to something they are already doing—and that's shopping.

"Fifteen percent goes back to help survivors," said VanderWal, explaining the two ways in which the company gives back.

The first is by employing rescued women who make 45 percent of their products. All the pillows are made in West Michigan by survivors, including through a program at Wedgewood Christian Services. All the girl's shirts are made by survivors in Cambodia. The new addition to the Crowned Free line is jewelry—a highly teachable trade—made by survivors in China.


The second way to give back is by supporting organizations that work with rescued women here in West Michigan, throughout the United States and overseas.

When fashion and female fellowship unite, education and empowerment become the most significant transaction.

"I receive so many e-mails and phone calls saying 'thank you for talking to our girls.' Moms bring their teenage daughters, so I can educate them on how to stay safe," Meyer said. "Crowned Free has an amazing clothing line. It sells itself, but the best part is that women know they are a part of something bigger."

To observe January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Crowned Free is hosting a fashion show on January 24, 2018, at 20 Monroe Live in downtown Grand Rapids. Guests will be introduced to the new spring line, shop and view umbrella skirts made in collaboration with students from Kendall College of Art & Design. For information on the fashion show visit www.crownedfree.com. To host a party with Jodi Meyer head to www.mycrownedfree.com/jodimeyer.



Jodi Meyer, Independent Sales Representative of Crowned Free




Heidi VanderWal, co-founder of Crowned Free



Written by Missy Black, a footwear fanatic, style child and contributing writer for West Michigan Woman.

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