Chloe here! Today on the blog we are chatting to an amazing lady I have been lucky enough to call friend over the last few years! She has recently partnered with us as our very first cause partner in our new collection “The Sisterhood Collective”. CEO of her own jewelry company, wife and mother, and passionate about the issue of Human Trafficking, let me introduce you to the lovely Jen Bedrossian of UNCVRD Jewelry!
Jen, can you give us a quick overview of the issue of Human Trafficking, specifically in regards to sexual slavery?
Human trafficking affects almost 25 million people around the globe. Sex Trafficking is a 150 billion dollar industry in which individuals are forced or coerced into engaging into commercial sex acts against their will.
In the US, the majority of traffickers look for vulnerable young people, often from the foster care system, and exploit them for their own personal gain. Trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, can take the form of sex trafficking, forced labor and even forced marriage. Women and girls account for over 70 percent of trafficking victims, and one in four victims of modern slavery are children. To learn more about this issue, you can read the annual Trafficking In Persons report by googling “human trafficking in 2019”. Dressember.org also has great resources if you’re looking to learn more about this issue. You can also check out my partner organizations, Gems Uncovered and Brave Global to learn more!
Can you share your story of encountering HT right here in LA?
I first learned that trafficking was happening in my hometown of Long Beach, CA about six years ago. After hearing a speaker share about her work in anti-trafficking, I started researching more and discovered that it was, in fact, happening right where I lived. I reached out to Mary White who runs a local anti-trafficking non-profit called Gems Uncovered and she took me on a street outreach ride along where I got to see her team in action, showing up faithfully for these women and sharing hope. It was wild to see what I truthfully had only seen in movies a mere 15 minute drive from my home.
And this propelled you to start your company, UNCVRD Jewelry correct? Why jewelry? Why start your own business? Why not just donate to the cause?
As soon as I learned about this issue, I felt compelled to do something. I had already been playing around with the idea of making jewelry as a creative outlet, a hobby - but I felt like God was leading me to turn that creative passion into something more. Back then, even though it was only 5ish years ago, there weren’t that many “do good” brands yet. It was TOMS, Warby Parker, and 31 Bits. I looked to those brands for inspiration and saw that you can use your business to raise awareness and funds for a cause.
I decided to make and sell jewelry, then donate a percentage of my proceeds to my local non-profit partners. I work with two amazing organizations called Gems Uncovered and Brave Global. I love having a product associated with the cause because it helps to raise awareness and my customers become advocates as they share the UNCVRD mission.
What have you learned about business since your started in 2014?
I’ve had to learn it all! Haha seriously from how to make jewelry (thank you YouTube), to how to structure my business...it has been a long, daily learning process. Thankfully I have a lot of people who have helped guide me, and I do my best to take sound advice and put it into practice. I’m still learning everyday!
What is the best piece of advise you have received about being a CEO/owning your own business?
I heard the CEO of another really amazing brand, ABLE, recently give a talk and he said “Don’t get destination sickness.” I loved that so much. Essentially what he was trying to say was, if you’re constantly thinking about the end point, the destination, the 5 year goal - you miss the really incredible things happening in the here and now. There has to be a balance of looking forward while being present. I struggle with that even on a personal level, I’m always looking ahead. What’s next on my calendar, what am I doing tomorrow, what fun thing do I have to look forward to. When I live in that head space, I miss the magic in the present.
What keeps you motivated during the boring or hard days?
Definitely staying plugged into my non-profit partners. I love working with Gems Uncovered and Brave Global because they are close to me geographically and I can be as involved as I’m able to be. I love being able to meet the girls and women they work with, to see the amazing progress that is being made in the fight against slavery. If it weren’t for that tangible experience, it would be a tough fight to fight during the seasons where I feel particularly unmotivated or uninspired. The survivors and their courage keep me going!
What’s one of your goals for 2020?
One of my goals is growth. I’ve had my business five years now, while raising two small children. They are 4 and 6 now, and I’m ready to take things to the next level. I have some exciting things planned and I hope you’ll follow along as we work to end human trafficking here in the US. You can find us at uncvrdjewelry.com and on Instagram @uncvrdjewelry
Make sure you check out our new collection, The Sisterhood Collective and join us as we support the amazing work of Gems Uncovered, Brave Global and UNCVRD Jewelry in the fight against Human Trafficking.