How it Began
This story began the moment I found out that there are over 40 Million people trapped in slavery around the world today. That's twice as many people as the population of Australia and more than twice the number of people that were taken from Africa during the entire transatlantic slave trade. After learning this I was driven by a passion to do something about it. I looked at the causes of slavery and how best to fight it, and also tried to figure out why more people weren't being rescued. Unemployment is one of the main causes of slavery and countless men women and children are bound in slavery, not by ropes and chains, but by desperation and lack of other opportunity. How do you fight it? Awareness is a good start, funding activists is another but what happens to those who escape or those who are rescued to stop them ending up in the same position of vulnerability as when they were trafficked? To answer that question, I booked flights to Ghana, West Africa, with a dream to develop a brand that would help bring an end to slavery by funding activists fighting to rescue children from Lake Volta, raise awareness with each piece of beautifully vibrant clothing sold, and most importantly, offer training and jobs to those rescued, so they would never find themselves in that same position of desperation as when they were sold into slavery to begin with.
The Story so Far
My first trip consisted of six weeks spent in Ghana creating a sample range and connecting with Challenging Heights, the anti-slavery organisation I am now partnered with. Two months after returning home, I was off again, this time for three months to set up our workshop with electricity, furniture and industrial sewing machines. To begin with I employed David, Naomi and Raymond full time and Abraham part time while he finished his apprenticeship. While I was there, we put together our very first range of jackets, and so Llewelyn Clothing came to be.
This is where we need your help!
Nearly a year later with two sold out collections, Challenging Heights has asked us to employ Agnes, Isaac and Abraham full time, on top of the workers we already have. To expand this quickly on our own would be difficult, but with your support it can be done as Kickstarter allows you to pre-order so we can receive the funds before the items are produced. With your money we will buy the extra machines, pay the workers their wages, and also be able to pay for all the fabric necessary to fill your orders. In return for your support, we will send you beautifully handmade items straight from our workshop in Ghana at 30% off their retail price!
With your help, we are able to make a profound difference in the lives of these people and help them achieve their dreams. Here are their stories.
Our New Workers
Agnes was trafficked by her paternal uncle and became a fisher girl on Lake Volta where she was traumatised by constant verbal, physical and sexual abuse over the course of four years. Finally free, Agnes hopes that if she becomes a fashion designer with an international following, she can then use her voice to end child trafficking and child labour and free those who are still bound within the shadows of slavery. She has applied for a place in the National Vocational Training Institute and we are extremely proud to be able to support Agnes and help her find her voice and follow the dreams she has been working towards since her rescue.
Sold into slavery by his own father, Isaac worked for his first master for some years before being sold to another man on Lake Volta to continue his work as a fisherman. After seven years of slavery, trapped in forced labour and enduring abuse, Isaac escaped and traveled 500km back to his hometown Winneba, where our workshop is based. At 27 years of age, he has not received any schooling but he is focused on becoming a tailor instead. Isaac wants the world to know that slavery still exists and wants to be a part of the fight against it. His dream is to set up his own shop in the future and employ others, especially those who are less privileged.
Abraham has been working for us part time since the start of last year. I was lucky enough to interview him in Ghana for an article in Der Spiegel, a German magazine. Abraham was enslaved from the age of 12 to 16 before his rescue and rehabilitation by Challenging Heights. While working as a slave on Lake Volta, he dreamed of becoming a tailor and despite constant verbal and physical abuse, he never gave up on that dream. Later, when he was free, Abraham met the man who trafficked him into slavery and then became his master. When asked how he was doing, Abraham answered by sewing his old master two shirts. The first shirt he said, was to show that despite everything he forgave his master, and the second shirt was his way of proving to the man who abused him for all those years that he could beat him into working and steal his childhood, but he could never, ever, take away his dreams.
Meeting these people and hearing their stories of such incredible suffering, courage and compassion is truly inspiring. To be able to provide the opportunity for Agnes, Isaac and Abraham to escape the unimaginable horrors of slavery and reach a brighter future is exactly why I created the brand. I see the potential in Ghanaian fabric and I see the fashion industry as a great platform to raise awareness about an issue and drive a movement towards freedom and respect for every one in the manufacturing process. My dream is to help bring an end to slavery, and if I can do that as well as share the vibrance and energy of West African fashion with the rest of the world, with clothing that empowers both those who wear it and those who make it, then I believe with your help, we can free many beautiful people from slavery, one piece of clothing at a time.
Please note the same fabric shown in these pictures may not be available when you order, see below for more details.
If we reach our goal, we will send you an email to collect the information needed to fulfil your order. The fabrics we use are sourced from the local markets so are constantly changing and because they are so vibrant and unique we want you to decide which pattern you want your item to be made from. We want the item to be perfect for you therefore our email will include fabric options, choice of size and shipping address. Please look at the rewards we offer to see what items you would like!
We would love all the support we can get, so please share with your friends. If we pass our goal, there are countless others like Abraham, Isaac and Agnes, each desperate for work so the more orders we have, the more lives we can change and greater the impact we have on ending modern slavery will be.
Risks and challenges
Since I set up the workshop and began manufacturing in Ghana I have been faced with many challenges. Over the course of the year each challenge has been resolved and my workers and I have grown a lot through our experiences and I am now confident we are able to overcome almost anything. The time I have outlined for the production takes into account the frequent power outages, laid back nature typical in Ghana, and the many small delays that are all part of choosing to produce in a West African country. Communication is key, so I will always be willing to answer any questions or listen to any feedback you have throughout the course of the project and beyond! Thank you for your support, EmmisonLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (22 days)