When i started my journey as a blogger and a storyteller, my idea was to whole heartedly share my personal experiences & stories with the surrounding world. Moving to a whole new country amongst unknown faces and starting a new life with very little help and no family around had a handful of experiences and sufferings attached to it and that was supposed to be the highlight of my blog.
At that time, i really didn’t know what i was signing up for as a blogger. The passion behind narrating real life anecdotes as a secret voice with those who can understand and relate has become so much more than what i had imagined in the beginning. I have met people who virtually showered their mindful knowledge and appraisal for instances i have shared that has opened doors to so many more experiences than i could ever imagine.
Blogging has opened my eyes towards a myriad of social & economic issues whether it is related to fashion or life in general. And honestly, i couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this industry that has helped me attain deep interest & knowledge about the ongoing social issues and be supportive of it however possible.
“We only have two choices – do something or do nothing.”- Tony Kirwan
Tony Kirwan is the Founder of the organization Destiny Rescue, established to rescue sexually exploited & enslaved children around the world and restore the ones who are abused, vulnerable & become a voice to those who cannot speak up for themselves, which is the highlight of today’s post.
Last few days have been quite uneasy for me personally with constant rumination followed by sleepless nights. The more i think about my aspirations as a blogger, the more i retrospect every decision taken so far and questions the ethics of the voice behind the blog.
Although there is nothing more satisfying than sharing one’s own personal life experiences but at the same time there’s nothing more liberating than using one’s voice for addressing bigger things such as socio-economic issues related to human exploitation & trafficking, women & children being abused sexually and physically at a global level which as matter of fact includes 75% of women around the world. I am here to be that voice…
By this time, if you are feeling overwhelmed, i want you to know that i feel the same! It took me quite a long time to write my heart out on the paper for this one because i too have a history of sexual abuse during my teenage years and that has certainly left an emotional scar i can never erase from my life. At the time, i wasn’t strong enough to be able to do something about it or be my own voice.
Being a woman in today’s world means using your voice to empower others to create a positive change. As a women, it’s important to realize that helping other women achieve their aspirations is just as important as achieving your own. Adiysn (Founder & CEO of Free Leaf Ltd.) is one such woman entrepreneur who is trying to create a world where women is #knotforsale (not for sale.)
What comes to your mind when you hear words such as “human trafficking“? Lets say, a women-in-need, abused & exploited women at various walks of life due to a number of factors such as poverty, or lack of education, low economic opportunities, gender inequality or disability. It certainly brings a very dark image in front of our eyes, perhaps at any point of life, do you think of a bracelet, necklace, or bag that you bought, one that was made by a survivor of sex trafficking? Wouldn’t that make you feel gratified for supporting someone who was trying to start a new life and you wanted to help and be a part of her new beginning?
Today, we are talking about one such Social Enterprise and/or Entrepreneur with a goal to rehabilitate sex trafficking survivors and reintegrate them back to society by providing them with jobs, holistic care and creating a safe environment for them to heal and fight back.
STORY: How it all started?
Adisyn, the Founder & CEO of Freeleaf, never imagined herself starting a social enterprise or becoming an entrepreneur. She studied International Studies & French and worked for a few non-profits and social enterprises, and had spent a year in Asia gaining some overseas experience where she met a local Chinese woman named JiaYi who shared a similar passion for the women-in-need in the city, and they slowly began talking to at-risk, abused, and exploited women to gather more information about what their needs were.
“It didn’t take long to realize that the root of so much abuse and exploitation was economic. When women are poor and lack educational or economic opportunities, they often find themselves vulnerable to abuse and/or exploitation. Slowly, we realized that if we wanted to create a safe space for women to heal in a sustainable and substantial way, we didn’t need to create some non-profit or charity program—we needed to create a business. So Freeleaf was born June 2016.” says Adiysn.
“Freeleaf” stands for representation of the freedom and independence we desire for every woman trapped in abuse, poverty and trafficking.
At Freeleaf, women are provided with economic empowerment, support and encouragement through employment and holistic care to overcome their history of abuse to become strong women able to pursue and achieve their dreams. They provide each woman with safe shelter, medical care, professional counseling, coaching/mentorship, vocational training, and constant encouragement. This holistic viewpoint is designed to help women grow to understand their intrinsic value and give them the tools and confidence to stand firm and achieve their dreams—whether they stay at Freeleaf or move on to somewhere/something else.
PRODUCTS : What is #knotforsale?
Here comes the fun part about this organization! #Knotforsale represents the beautifully handcrafted and uniquely designed products offered by Free leaf, knotted together from a single strand of a rope or cord, shaping into something extraordinary, hence #knotforsale (which is also the motto of their enterprise, “A world where women are “not for sale”).
Adiysn herself came up with the idea of incorporating ancient knotting traditions into modern applications, so she made a coaster out of a piece of scrap rope. Little did she know that this would provide the basis for the products Freeleaf produces today.
The Chinese Knot
Knotting is an ancient art-form that has been practiced in China and all over Asia for centuries. In addition to tying knots for functional purposes, knots have been used to show elegance and express blessings. Freeleaf bases the design of all of their products in accordance with this rich history and significance of the Chinese knot.
In addition, the process of knotting can be quite messy as a single strand of rope is molded to become something beautiful. Throughout the process of tying knots to create a product, it’s easy to feel like you’re making a bigger mess than you started with. However, with patience and dedication, the knot slowly begins to come forth and eventually you’re left with a stunning product.
Adiysn relates this process to life – “If we’re willing to be patient and keep walking through the messiness or chaos of whatever’s going on around us, I believe that beauty always wins.” What an interesting perspective to look at!
WHO MADE MY KNOTTED JEWELRY?
Yan Yan’s Story:
Yan Yan, currently working with Freeleaf, was trapped and frequently abused & exploited at her previous job before joining Freeleaf. One of the times when she was depressed and downhearted and had no clue about what to do with her life, she met the Freeleaf team. Little did she know that this will be a turning point in her life. With constant care and encouragement from the team, she learnt how to make Freeleaf’s first product – the knotted Rug.
“If I didn’t start working Freeleaf, I would still be working in an environment full of abuse and exploitation. I never would have been able to find out who I truly am and know my value as a woman. I never would have learned how capable I am to make beautiful things and do something I can really excel at. I have come to believe, fully, that I can be a good staff and a good mother and a good future wife. Before Freeleaf, my life was so dark, but today it is full of color and hope for the future.” says Yan Yan.
At present, Yan Yan is capable of designing new products from scratch and works to support her family with a sustainable income.
WHAT MAKES FREELEAF PRODUCTS SPECIAL?
-All Freeleaf products are purely handmade, uniquely knotted using ropes or cord. Most of their products are made using jute ropes which is nothing but one of the most sustainable materials known.
–Freeleaf being a fair-trade organization provides fair wages and a safe working environment for all its staff members.
-I find it Its interesting how something as simple as a rope can be molded into something beautiful with much patience and perseverance, the same way we shape our lives working towards our dreams and goals.
-At present, there are only 5 women employed at Freeleaf along with other staff members with a total of 10 people running the enterprise. We certainly cannot forget to emphasize on the fact that Freeleaf is lead by a female entrepreneur who is committed to support women-in-need and help them attain a dignified life they can be proud of, the same she wishes for herself. “We don’t only want to provide employment to women. We want to see women experience holistic freedom—physically, economically, relationally, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and more. “
Let’s get together and support such great women who are working to bring a much needed change in the society, aiming to create a world where women is “NOT FOR SALE”.
“Let’s root for each other and watch each other grow.”
This post has been sponsored by Freeleaf, all my opinions here, however, are honest and my own.
Check out their website: FREELEAF (www.knotforsale.com)
Products shown above:
Concept and styling: Tanvi Mutneja (@tanvi_msidhu)
Photography : Rajvir Sidhu