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Interview with Michelle Bridgeman of PURPOSE Jewelry

Interview with Michelle Bridgeman of PURPOSE Jewelry

Interview by Joyce Kim

How did PURPOSE Jewelry begin? 

PURPOSE Jewelry didn’t exist up until two years ago. Prior to that, all the jewelry was produced under our nonprofit, International Sanctuary. We were founded in 2007 by two women, Stephanie Pollaro and Wendy Dailey. Over ten years ago, Stephanie read about human trafficking in a magazine and decided she had to do something about the issue. Soon after, she found out that her church was going on a short-term mission trip to India and knew she had to go. On that trip, the country really resonated with her, and she decided to move there to figure out how to help human trafficking survivors. She soon discovered that the real need came after the women had been rescued, as there were no means of support—reintegration was difficult for many of these women. Stephanie decided to start out with a few girls and try to give them jobs through jewelry making, which had just been a hobby of hers. The girls would make simple jewelry and send it to Wendy, who was based in California. Wendy would sell it wherever and however she could, including from the trunk of her car! Stephanie and Wendy found this model to work and in 2007 they officially founded International Sanctuary. Since its inception, the organization has been funded through jewelry sales primarily. In 2014, PURPOSE Jewelry was launched as the social enterprise of International Sanctuary 

How is PURPOSE Jewelry different than other companies? 

International Sanctuary empowers women escaping human trafficking through employment (PURPOSE Jewelry), education, counseling, medical care, and community. We are the causemeaning we don’t just give handouts to those in need, but we use a sustainable model involving holistic care, which empowers our participants to live a life of freedom. We serve young women internationally and domestically. From the creation of the jewelry to shipping out online orders, young women escaping human trafficking play a critical role in every step of the process.     

I think a big misconception about ethically-conscious goods is that they are going to be a very specific style, a style that isn’t something that would be easily worn. But our jewelry is stylish and easy to integrate into your everyday look. Our price point is really affordable as well. A lot of times people think that these socially-conscious goods are going to be something that you have to save up for. But that's not always the case! 

Who designs PURPOSE? 

Stephanie Pollaroour founder, was our designer until about a year and a half ago. Now, she’s passed the baton to our current designer, April Stream, who is based here in our California office. April works with our in-country production coordinators to ensure her designs come to life. She stays on top of fashion trends and forecasts while maintaining the essence of the PURPOSE brand.    

How are PURPOSE Jewelry and International Sanctuary intertwined? 

International Sanctuary is our 501(c)(3) non-profit, and our mission is to empower women and girls escaping human trafficking to embrace their identity and worth. Through education, employment, counseling, medical care, and community, young women receive all the tools they need to rebuild their lives and to live in true freedom. The employment piece is fueled by PURPOSE Jewelrywhen you purchase with PURPOSE® all proceeds go back into our organization’s programming and directly affect the lives of the women we serve.

What is your long-term vision as an organization?

We have a long-term goal to open ten sanctuaries by the year 2020. We currently have four existing sanctuaries in Mumbai, India; Irvine, California; Tijuana, Mexico; and Kampala, Uganda. We are looking to expand because the need is greater than everhuman trafficking is a growing crisis in every country in the world.  Our desire is to see even more women obtain true freedom.  

What has been something the Lord has taught you along this journey of growing International Sanctuary?

Our entire staff has been constantly reminded that this work is not easythere are a lot of barriers to overcome, and that slow and steady is not necessarily a bad thing. We can easily get overwhelmed with the issue of human trafficking and feel like we’re not doing enough, but God has reminded us that those we are able to help through International Sanctuary matter and now their lives are forever changed. God has grown this organization in his time and will continue to do so as he sees fit. We just have to seek His guidance and step out in faith when we feel him tugging on our hearts. He is working in big ways and we are vessels to help him accomplish his will here on earth.    

How is Christ shown to the participants you work with on a daily basis? 

We show Christ by showing his love to every person who comes through our doors. We believe every human life has value and each individual deserves to live out life to his or her full potential. Many of our staff are believers and talk about their faith with our participants on a relational level. We openly pray for the organization and always allow for participants to join in if they’d like. We work hard to make sure every participant feels loved, accepted, and supported.   

What is something new you are working on for the PURPOSE line?

We’re so excited because we just launched our new Premier Line comprised of 14k and rhodium-plated jewelryeach individual piece comes beautifully wrapped in a gift box. This has been a line we have wanted to create for many years! To see it finally become a reality is extremely rewarding and it’s already garnered a good response from our supporters. Take a look at the line here 

How can we get involved with PURPOSE?

First and foremost, we’d love for you to shop with us and make a difference through your purchases. We have a variety of different styles and price options for you to choose from. Especially being in the holiday season, PURPOSE Jewelry is the perfect choice for gift giving. You can also host a trunk show to share about our cause with all your friends and family. Here’s the link for more details on hostingWe have information about other volunteer opportunities available locally and globally at   

To view more of the jewelry and learn more about their purpose, visit Use code DR to receive 20% off your purchase!