We work with women in developing nations where education and opportunity are scarce. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, the common denominator being poverty and the web of issues that stem from it. Our goal is to stay future-focused, to help our students look forward and define themselves not by their challenging pasts, but by their immense potential and bright futures.
Training women in the art and science of cosmetology is effective both economically and in the process of restoration and healing. Learning a new set of skills and becoming financially independent is empowering and builds self esteem, and by starting their own businesses, our students are contributing to their community in an important way they have yet to experience. A career in hairstyling is special because it provides a stable source of income through helping others feel beautiful, which is beneficial to the hairstylist's own emotional healing.
Education + Opportunity = Empowerment
People living in poverty often turn to unsafe, last-resort sources to provide for their families, and they are left feeling degraded and unvalued as individuals. Children are put in exploitive situations, women are viewed as objects, and the cycle continues. Without proper education, an understanding of their self-worth, or opportunity to develop a set of skills, the pressure of helping their loved ones overrides the dream of rising out of poverty.
Prostitution and garment labor, among other disadvantaged forms of work, aren’t much of a choice at all.. More accurately, these paths are a result of women baring that responsibility to care for families without having any fair or suitable choices available.
Our program is for young women who face these kinds of unimaginable dilemmas, whether it be leaving prostitution or an abusive relationship, or rising above poverty. We support them on their educational journey by providing the tools and guidance necessary to excel.
For every country we visit, we create the curriculum and tailor it to match the culture's needs. The Trade is responsible for all of the materials and tools used in our programs abroad, and we put loving attention to detail in the assignments and projects we give to our students.
It’s more than vocational training in hairstyling. We teach about salon business, how to save and spend money, the importance of loving and caring for yourself, working well with a team, understanding your body, and protecting yourself against unplanned pregnancies and STD’s. We want to help mold well-rounded individuals who know they are more than a job, more than a paycheck.
True empowerment means giving someone all of the information, all of your knowledge, and then empowering them to make educated choices for themselves. Our final goal is to create ripple effects in the community and to see a new wave of self sustaining women who believe in themselves and in each other.
We believe that to be successful takes more than just having the skills, it takes self confidence, and we strive to instill that confidence in every student.
We continued our partnership with Agape International Missions to bring education and training to the women of Cambodia, and returned to Siem Reap in February of 2014 for a one month follow up program with the 8 students we trained the year before. We tough extended education, reviewed what they had learned in our last program, brushed up skills, brought product restock, and hosted a community outreach event to help build clientele in their salon.
In August 2011, the first Trade volunteer team was assembled and went to the slums of Brazil where we spent 2 months teaching 15 women the art of hairdressing, manicuring, makeup application, and salon business. We also offered counseling services and built out a salon where all of the graduating students could work.
We've teamed up with Build A Miracle Beauty School in El Florido, Mexico. The school's goal is to enable students to improve their lives. With new skills they will be able to contribute to their family's income as well as learn to respect and believe in their own self worth. The Trade has sent volunteer instructors to teach at the beauty school, and also sent supplies including shears and textbooks.
In January 2013, One of Trade’s Educators traveled to Gulu, Uganda to give the women at 31 Bits an opportunity to expand their education beyond jewelry making. Twenty of their jewelry designers expressed an interest in learning more about hairdressing, but had no way of attaining an education. Along with 31 Bits founder Kallie Dovel, we had the opportunity to teach these women basics in chemical relaxing, braiding, and sanitation.
From February through March of 2013, our team returned to the favelas of Brazil to train 15 new women the craft of cosmetology. All 15 students graduated with an understanding of hairdressing, makeup application, salon business (including running a salon business from your home), and improved self confidence to pursue their dreams.
We organized a Trade Team of 15 volunteer educators and stylists to carryout our first program in Cambodia, beginning on August 1st and ending on October 12th. All 8 of our students graduated and started salon careers. Upon graduating they received cosmetology certificates and beauty kits with all of the tools they need to start their careers.
Our goal as a team is to mold self sustaining women and provide them with the skill set and the confidence they need to succeed on their own. We want our students to have a presence in their community that they can use to make ripple effects, inspiring new generations of empowered women who demand an education and respect. We want long lasting results. We want big change.
Thank you for helping us grow and get to this exciting new chapter!
As the Director of The Trade, Melissa focuses on program and in-field development, team management, student care, counseling, and big picture goals. She currently lives in Cambodia where she uses her 8+ years of experience in guidance counseling, mentoring, and women's empowerment to help the students, the team, and the salon flourish. In her free time, Melissa enjoys teaching ukulele and guitar, snuggling with stray animals, jumping out of planes, and spending time in nature.
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Maria has written our curriculum since The Trade started and has been on every trip. She is a Trade veteran! On top of being a certified hairstylist for 12 years, Maria also studied business and teaches the business/financial planning portion of the curriculum, which is crucial to the longterm success of our students. In Mexico, she doubled as our translator. She keeps our students and team future-focused while bringing a lighthearted energy to the classroom. Maria doesn't have a lot of spare time, but when she has a night off she enjoys finding new recipes on pinterest, zip lining through the jungle, and making everyone around her laugh.
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Heidi has been working with The Trade for two years now and has traveled with us to Mexico and Cambodia. She teaches both hair and makeup and has an extensive knowledge to share. Heidi has used her Instagram presence to fundraise for our trips and students, and to raise awareness about the issues women in developing nations face. Heidi is especially gifted in simplifying subjects for our students to easily absorb. She brings her former-athlete team spirit to our classroom and our Trade team. She has also helped prepare our curriculum and renovate our new salon in Cambodia. Heidi enjoys making people feel beautiful, a good zumba mix, and
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Shaina is a certified hairstylist and also has an honors degree in BioChemistry, both passions have lead her to live all over the world and immerse herself in different cultures. Before working with The Trade, she did things like this, and since becoming a member of our team has written our curriculum and helped us open and launch our training salon in Cambodia. Shaina volunteers for two months at a time, teaching various parts of the curriculum and hosting fundraising events for the project. Her current home is in Barcelona, where she enjoys writing, playing the drums and ukulele, working with children, cooking, and supporting local farmers and gardeners.
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We are proud to say that 100% of public donations go directly to programming and training to empower and educate women affected by the sex trade.
Here are some examples for how your public donation may be spent:
We select volunteers for our team based off a variety of factors, here are some qualities we look for when interviewing:
Use your craft to do good and host a Cut-A-Thon! Donate all or a percentage of the proceeds to The Trade & get your clients involved in the discussion about women's rights and the importance of education. Click here for FAQ on hosting a Cut for a Cause event!
1. How does my salon profit from your fundraiser? Will you supply any advertising or products for display?
We provide informational leaflets regarding our cause. Additionally, many participating stylists purchase our t-shirts to wear during and after their event. If your event is held in California, we are happy to visit your salon to speak or to answer client questions by means of an informational booth. We have found that clients are generally more willing to frequent an establishment when they know that their business is contributing to a greater cause.
2. What happens to the money raised? Will I have the opportunity to travel overseas?
The primary goal of of hosting a Cut for a Cause event is to raise funds and awareness for The Trade, a program that works to restore women who are deprived of education and basic opportunity.
100% of public donations (any money raised prior to selection for an international team) go directly to our beauty school programs overseas, to meet the needs of our students. Without the aid from our programs, many students would be burdened by the necessity of having to work nights in order to provide for their families. When we provide salaries for our students, as well as supplies for the salon/beauty school, students have the freedom to more fully focus on their education.
There is no guarantee that every participant will be placed for an overseas trip. (Our teams are relatively small, and selection is based on many factors, including a volunteer's passion to assist in any capacity. ) However, through the relationships established through Cut for a Cause, we learn about the passions and interest of the various applicants.
If an applicant is selected for travel abroad, a Cut for a Cause event may be marketed specifically as a fundraiser to cover travel costs. Any funds raised above and beyond the travel costs will go to the public fund and be used accordingly.