This Guy Turned A High School Crush Project Into A Business Idea To End Human Trafficking

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This awesome guy right here is Drew Oxley, a Cincinnati-based social entrepreneur who is making a difference in the lives of women caught in human trafficking in India. He is also the creator of the Parative Project, the apparel company that works with organizations to not only help women escape from this awful form of modern day slavery, but empower them to have a means to earn money, preventing them from going back into the world of trafficking.

But let’s rewind a little, because the way this whole idea for the Parative Project came about is pretty darn cool.

This month Drew and his team launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that they can team up with two specific organizations based out of India, transfer the production of his line of apparel across the world, and show the women who are making these shirts that they matter.

In the campaign he talks about the concept of the idea and how it came about:

“T-shirts have been telling stories for decades. Whether it’s your favorite band, sports team, logo, or graduating class, what we wear makes a statement. I have always had an affinity for t-shirts. My love started with a t-shirt I printed in high school that said, ‘My Love for You Goes on For Ages.’ The intention was to wear it around my crush to show her how I felt. Sadly, she didn’t show up for school that day… However, I realized something that inspired me and hopefully will inspire you. I learned that t-shirts can communicate,” he explained.

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Of course it was a number of years later that the Parative Project was formed, but he took what was initially an idea to impress a girl and turned it into something that it set to empower many women out of a life of bondage.

Around the world it is estimated there are close to 21 million victims of human trafficking, the majority of which are women and girls. The International Labor Organization estimates forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion dollar industry. The A21 Campaign, a non-profit based out of Los Angeles which has offices around the world and also works to end human trafficking, calls it the “fastest growing criminal industry” which affects every country on earth.

Yes, that means right here in the United States. Every year on Super Bowl Sunday, while most of us are gobbling up tortilla chips and buffalo wings and cheering on our fave team, the FBI are arresting pimps and johns. According the bureau, Super Bowl Sunday is one of the highest human trafficking days in the states, and it’s not hard to see why – everyone else is too distracted to care or notice.

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With the total number of human trafficking victims AND forced labor victims totaling 27 million globally, with only 1-2% of victims every being rescued, it means there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history. Let that sobering fact sink in for a moment…

What we love about the Parative Project is that Drew and his team are attempting to change that abysmal statistic of 1-2%, by offering a means to economic empowerment for women in India so that they aren’t forced to go back into a life of slavery, which often happens in many cases globally.

After starting his company, Drew says the decision to team up with other organizations and move production of the t-shirts was an important one.

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“After a conversation with the founder of The Aruna Project, I was inspired to move production of Parative’s shirts to India. Here, the tees wouldn’t just tell a story; they would be made by the hands of those whose story is being told. These women are hardworking, talented, and we believe in them. We can communicate this to them them not only by hiring them, but in another way too. We want to tell these women of their deep value in the best way we know how: a t-shirt,” he said.

He may not have succeeded in letting his high school crush know he was in love with her all those years ago, but with the “you are loved” messages on his t-shirts today, he is communicating a much deeper and powerful statement to people all around the world.

“We made t-shirt designs that speak backwards. The messages on these specific shirts are not for the consumer, nor the people who will see you wearing them. Instead, we designed these shirts to speak to their maker: the woman who is working to end the cycle of poverty for the generations after her. The woman who is diligently fighting the ghosts of her past. The woman who might need some encouragement to know she is remembered,” explains Drew.

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“We know that a t-shirt isn’t going to erase everything that has happened to her, but like a greeting card can turn around someone’s day, these tees will serve as comfort and support to her. As she works, she will read the messages, ‘You are loved’ and ‘Our freedom is tied together.’ So when the product she made is purchased, she will know that we believe in her freedom and want to help grow her business.”

Teaming up with Freeset and The Aruna Project means the Parative Project is able to make a significant impact in the lives of Indian women, while also engaging everyday people like us to make a difference simply with our purchasing power.

“Both of these organizations give freedom to women who have been empowered out of the human trafficking system, through sustainable employment and after care. Our hope is that the more we grow, the more women these organizations are able to bring in,” said Drew.

Aside from t-shirts you can also purchase flags and totes which bear inspiring slogans such as “land of the dreamer” and “our freedom is tied together”.

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We highly encourage all our readers to donate to the Kickstarter campaign while it is still running and know that this is not just another crowd-funding initiative you are giving your money away to, you are specifically investing in helping chip away at the stronghold of the human trafficking industry worldwide, by giving a woman in India a chance to earn a living that doesn’t rely on selling her body.

Drew, for the record, we love what you are doing and hope that your high school crush is seeing your hard work. We have no doubt she would be impressed!

Take a look at the video explaining more about the Parative Project campaign and their partnership with The Aruna Project and Freeset:


 

 

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