Ruby and Clover Hairdressing
907 N Main St, Rochester
Michigan, United States
With family devastation at sixteen I needed an alternative to college but a skill that could get me through life. My lovely high school counselor recommended I pursue cosmetology school which I would be able to attend during my senior year, it was one of the greatest decisions of my life. After graduation I went right into my career at eighteen. Quickly I learned my love for leadership as well my intrigue with becoming an entrepreneur. While working I went to a local college to learn more on these topics with the dream of running my own company. I opened my first salon at 24, eighteen years ago, and have acquired many skills to share with future entrepreneurs. My goal as a business owner in the industry is to empower and educate women and provide job opportunities in a comfortable, empowering environment.
Looking back at my journey I was being prepped for a mission I will forever be a part of. A mission to empower young women, to educate them so they are not vulnerable, and to give them hope and purpose for their lives. While I have been lucky enough to create an environment in my business to do just this, the fall of 2019 brought me an abroad opportunity I was praying for. In November I traveled from Detroit Michigan to the country of Nepal and got to meet the most remarkable young women I have ever met. These young women ranged from 14 to 21 years of age; they were beautiful survivors with a story to tell. These girls were victims of human trafficking and were trafficked in one of the darkest places on earth. Nepal is a poor country and because of the open border between Nepal and India approximately 30,000 girls are trafficked annually. If a trafficker gets a Nepalese girl over the border, it is very likely she will never be seen again. The survivors I met were rescued by the presence and actions of Our Daughter’s international representatives. On my mission I was able to hear some of the girl’s stories directly from them and let me tell you they are horrific. These are the kind of stories no one should ever be able to tell let alone have to live their whole life remembering, especially girls at this young age.
Our Daughters Internationals mission is to rescue, restore, educate, and empower at risk young women. The next step after being rescued is they spend time in intense therapy for physical and mental restoration. Once they have regained their strength, both mentally and physically, they are educated with a skill of their choice to learn and study before returning to their villages. This skill is so important for a couple reasons: First, they want them to feel empowered to support themselves financially so they don’t fall at the risk of another trafficker and secondly, they want them to become advocates for human trafficking so they can spread the word in their villages and hopefully save other girls before it’s too late. Skills they can pick from are sewing, butchering, farming, cooking and now one of the options is cosmetology. On our trip we spent two weeks training cosmetology skills to future leaders. We taught hair cutting, styling, coloring, nails, and makeup. The girls were amazing and quickly picked up on everything. You could really tell they loved it! Along with cosmetology skills I spent time teaching business management with an emphasis on opening your own business. This is so important because we want them to be fully sustainable women who can provide financially for their families and create jobs within their community. Along with this we want them to teach other young girls the dangers of trafficking, how to recognize it and how to avoid it. The big picture goal is to send these girls back to their communities with the skills and education to start their own business and be advocates for human trafficking.
Since this trip cosmetology has become the fan favorite of all the programs. The 12 girls we mentored have all gone on to open their own businesses and have trained many others to do the same. The program has been so successful we have continued to do online zoom classes, sometimes teaching a new haircut and sometimes just to see each other’s faces and offer up words of encouragement. I am in the process of writing a cosmetology curriculum along with a book for them to be able to use in the program.
Our Daughters International is the nonprofit who makes all this possible. They believe these girls are so much more than just victims, they are now educated and empowered young women on a mission who we call “Our Daughters!” They will go from victim to a survivor, to a daughter to a leader. We are creating sustainability for years and generations to come. Recently land was purchased for a new teaching facility which they hope to break ground on next year. For the daughters who cannot return home due to safety concerns we hope they will stay and be teachers at the new school.
I had a moment on that trip that was so impactful to me personally. We were taking a little break from teaching hair one afternoon while enjoying each other’s company over a cup of homemade chia tea. I noticed a few of the girls from the morning session in the corner playing with a mannequin. I sat there and watch a magical moment take place. One of the young women from the morning session, which was on how to blow-dry was teaching another peer who was not in the session, how to blow-dry. I knew, at that moment our mission was a success! That young woman now runs her own salon business back home in her childhood village! See this moment caught on video in my attachments. As much as I stay involved, I know the foundation we gave them created true sustainability that will affect generations to come. This starts a fire in my soul, to wake up every day, inspired to empower other women of all ages 🙂
Since 2009 Our Daughters International highlights:
- Over 136,000 girls and women have been counseled at the border stations.
- Over 11,500 trafficking victims have become survivors.
- Over 1,500 survivors have become our daughters at the Safe Home and Training Center.
- Over 300 businesses have been launched by our daughters as they return to their communities.
- 9 Community Based Organizations have been established made up of 107 women’s
- Empowerment groups and almost 5,400 members.