Two weeks ago I made a road trip to Nashville to visit Thistle Farms with my board member, Reegan. Reegan has her own fair trade store in Covington, KY and she had proudly sold Thistle Farm products since It’s Only Fair! opened 3 years ago. Reegan and I have been planning this road trip forever!
Reegan & Laurie with Katrina who takes Reegan’s order for It’s Only Fair!
All I can say is WOW! So inspired by our full day visit, workshop, and tour of Thistle Farms and one of the Magdalene Homes where the women of Thistle Farms live during their 2 year program. Here is an overview of what Thistle Farms does as taken directly from their website (www.thistlefarms.org):
“We are a community of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. We believe that in the end, love is the strongest force in the world for change.
The social enterprise of Thistle Farms is run by residents and graduates of the program. By hand, the women create natural bath and body products that are as good for the earth as they are for the body. Purchases of Thistle Farms products directly benefit the women by whom they were made.
While working at Thistle Farms, women learn skills in manufacturing, packaging, marketing and sales, and administration. It is a supportive workplace where women acquire the skills they need to earn a living wage. Employees have the opportunity to put a percentage of their earnings in a matched savings account provided by Magdalene, the residential program. Through Thistle Farms, women gain much needed job skills, and learn responsibility and cooperation. Thistle Farms is housed in an 11,000 square feet sales and manufacturing facility. Thistle Stop Cafe, the global initiative (Shared Trade), and the Studios, the paper and sewing workshop, are also in the same building. We are committed to growing in order to employ more women and have greater opportunities to share our stories of healing on a larger scale.”
We got to hear the founder, Becca Stevens, speak and she is a captivating story teller. She is deeply grounded in the power of community and love as ways to heal the heartbreaking issues of society.
The light fixtures in the Thistle Stop cafe are made of tea cups that represent the stories of every woman who benefits from the program. They say there is a story in every cup!
After hearing several women who are either currently in the program or have graduated from the program, I have no doubt of their motto: #LOVEHEALS
Thistle Farms is a shining illustration of the context for the Heart.Beats.Slavery documentary. Everyone has gifts and can contribute towards combatting human trafficking. It all happens via relationships and ripple effects. All it takes is the courage to take a stand!