THE BRAVE COLLECTION
I am so excited to present this beautiful jewelry line that my friend Jennifer Yen introduced me to as she knows how much I love artisanal designs, Cambodia and how passionate I am in regards to the topic of human trafficking.
The Brave Collection is a line of jewelry handmade in Cambodia by talented artisans who come from underprivileged backgrounds or suffer from disabilities. Inspired by the desire to celebrate and preserve Cambodian culture post genocide, each piece in the collection is carved and woven entirely by hand, and serves as a token of freedom, and a symbol of universal bravery. When you support The Brave Collection, you are making a donation to fight human trafficking, celebrating and sustaining the work of fair-trade artisans, and joining a global community of dreamers and change-makers. Wherever and whoever you are, you can take a stance for freedom.
Courage is contagious.
While teaching English in Thailand during her studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Jessica Hendricks traveled to Cambodia to see the famous temples of Angkor Wat, a remnant of Cambodia's rich ancient culture. She was fascinated by the tangled synthesis of both the beautiful, and heartbreakingly violent past of this small Buddhist country, and struck to the core by the modern day reality she witnessed on the streets: girls as items for sale.
Ignited by a passion to create new opportunity to counter the wrongs she witnessed, Jessica took her wanderlust and wide-eyed entrepreneurial spirit passed down by her parents, and created a Collection to spark conversation and plant the seeds of change. Since Brave's 2012 launch, Hendricks has been featured by NY Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof's Half the Sky, selected as a Millennial Creator by MTV, and been invited to participate in the Tory Burch Foundation's Mentoring Series for Women Entrepreneurs.
What brought you to Thailand in the first place Jessica?
I was studying acting at NYU Tisch when I decided to go to Thailand to teach English for the Summer. I was fascinated by the Buddhist Thai culture and wanted to learn more from a more peaceful culture than the chaotic Manhattan I was so deeply immersed in.
Greatest inspirations or influences? Of course Somaly Mam, the modern day hero who inspired this Collection. I get inspiration from travel -- the colors, smells, and vibrancy of cultures so different than mine. New York is very monochromatic -- very geometric. I love experiencing parts of the world where color is key.
Favorite websites, blogs, publications?
Greatest challenge starting the Brave Collection?
Starting a line with a tiny fair trade production team across the globe definitely takes perseverance. Getting a level of communication, quality control and trust took time and it was challenging in the beginning for sure.
Tell us a bit about how you set up shop in Cambodia, how did you find the artisans, how often do you go?
I wanted to find a team that was fair trade, made up of artisans from underprivileged backgrounds, and run by Cambodians, not Westerners. I found one team that truly fit the bill and fell in love with them.
There are an estimated 30 million people around the world today who have fallen victim to human trafficking. Human trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the world, earning captors as estimated $10 billion each year through the buying and selling of other people. Slavery exists worldwide, but Cambodia's war torn past and weakened economy makes its people especially vulnerable.