I think that sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we forget how blessed most of us actually are; we don't know that girls and boys, the same age as a lot of our customers, are living lives that we can't imagine.
For the last several months I have been thoroughly frustrated with the career I have chosen. And, for the first time in my life I was confused as to where my life was leading and where this business was going. I was continually asking myself; Why am I doing this? What is the purpose of it all? Who is it really helping? At one point I was ready to sell the business and move on, but move on to what? I mean, really, we just opened a beautiful new addition in January, and I am ready to walk away from it all? I was seeking something more, there had to be more to me and to Bridal Traditions that just selling pretty clothes.
During this whole time of question and doubt, and even long before, a thought kept presenting itself to me. Human Trafficking, you need to do something about human trafficking. Well, OK, but what? I would think about it for a bit, then like so many other things, it would get pushed to the back burner and something else more pressing would take its place. The more I pushed the thought back the more dissatisfied I became with the business, and my life in general. I could not find peace with any solution that I came up with, until the day that I decided that no matter what, we are going to be more than just a frilly dress store; we are going to make a difference! I had told God some time ago that Bridal Traditions would be whatever He wanted it to be, so if He wants to use Bridal Traditions as a tool to help women and children who are caught up in the sex industry; who am I to stand in the way. Bridal Traditions has always been about helping girls see themselves as beautiful and building self-esteem, so its just natural that we would want to help these women and girls who have been abused and coerced into a life that they could never begin to understand the ramifications of, until it is too late.
I now know, that we need to be an active part of anti-human trafficking efforts, so we are helping in the only way that we know how, by supporting outreaches that specialize in ending human trafficking. I did some research and found Shared Hope International, who's mission is to eradicate sex trafficking through prevention, restoration, and bringing justice. After reading their credentials on unaffiliated websites I decided to become an Ambassador of Hope, and do their training program. I am taking baby steps, testing new doors, and currently, we have decide that Bridal Traditions will donate a portion of our gross profits to Shared Hope International every month. In addition to our monthly donations, we are hoping to spread awareness through posters, handouts, and fundraising events. I don't know how long it will last, where it will go, or what it will even look like in a few months from now, but that's what we're doing for now, and I have found a peace and satisfaction that I have not had for months. Bridal Traditions has a purpose again.
There are children being bought and sold every day in this country, and the really sad part is, that after a while, they no longer see themselves as victims, and neither does the rest of the population. After learning and seeing these truths about this multi-million dollar industry we are committed to helping end human trafficking, and our customers will have the satisfaction in knowing that when they purchase from us, they are also taking a stand to end modern day slavery.
Store owner, Kelly has been in the bridal industry since 2000, when at the ripe old age of 20 she opened her first little store front on a wing and a prayer. She is a certified wedding planner (no, she does not plan weddings), and everything she knows about bridal and formal wear has come from, gut instinct, trial and error, and watching LOTS of What Not to Wear.