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Learn about a local fashion designer who’s on a mission to change the world - one beautifully designed dress at a time.

Geetha Minton, Founder of GKM Design
Geetha Minton, Founder of GKM Design

Geetha Minton believes you can have a uniquely-designed dress, featuring luxurious materials from around the world, while providing a new life for a woman in need.

Minton is the founder of GKM Design, a fashion line that not only creates beautiful, culturally-inspired dresses, but products that help save modern day slaves from the realm of human trafficking.

When she launched GKM, Minton says she started out with one goal: To employ as many women as possible. “The more we sell, the more women we can help,” she says.

To help expand her brand and reach more buying customers, Minton partners with production companies in India and Moldova. Those companies hire survivors of human trafficking, allowing GKM to employ those women.

Minton says she hopes to inspire other women through the work she’s done in three ways. She wants to inspire them to live without the “what ifs.”

“It doesn’t matter what you went to school for or what you think other people want you to do in life,” she says. “Absolutely anything is possible. No matter how many people tell you you can’t do something, you absolutely can.”

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She wants everyone around her to attempt whatever it is they have their sights on, so at least they can say they had the guts to try.

Minton also wants to inspire others to surround themselves with supportive people.

“I’m not talking about people that will urge to go on American Idol even if you suck,” she laughs. “People that will tell you if you’re idea or dream makes sense or how to tweak it to make it work. I’m my own worst enemy and if I didn’t have the squad that I have surrounding me I would never gone as far as I have. Particularly my husband. He is my biggest support and my rock of Gibraltar. So having that support at home in incredibly important!”

Minton says that she believes anything is possible when you have the best intentions behind it. “You will absolutely receive help and blessings as long as you’re serving, working, and persevering with purpose,” she adds.

Dresses designed for GKM Design by Minton.
Dresses designed for GKM Design by Minton.

She doesn’t want you to give up when things get tough, because they will get really hard, she wants you to keep going with your purpose because things will work out.

Minton says that in the new year she will be bringing new designs to her line. Be on the lookout for five long dresses coming to the collection as well as a jumpsuit. “I’m super excited about these,” she says.

To learn more about GKM Design, visit GKMDesign.com. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Thanks to this new locally-launched concept, one woman’s jewelry is another woman’s freedom. See how it’s inspiring people around the world to donate their diamonds to give a new life and glimmer of hope to victims of human trafficking.

    A Brilliant Exchange encourages women to swap out their diamonds to help buy the freedom of human trafficking victims around the world. Photo: Adora-Bull Photography
    A Brilliant Exchange encourages women to swap out their diamonds to help buy the freedom of human trafficking victims around the world. Photo: Adora-Bull Photography

    Diamond’s are a girl’s best friend, but they can also help change the world because of their value. That’s why, six years ago, Julie Theis felt compelled to sell her engagement ring diamond.

    She replaced it with a look-a-like, and donated the proceeds from the sale of the diamonds to help those women and children around the world who are exploited and held as slaves in human trafficking organizations.

    “Last year, I started dreaming about what could happen in the world if millions of American women decided to do the same thing,” she explains. “And that’s when we came up with the idea for A Brilliant Exchange.”

    A Brilliant Exchange is a non-profit organization that aims to mobilize the abundant resources of women in America by inviting them to donate diamonds.

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    Theis started A Brilliant Exchange with her husband Brodie, and the two do most of the work together. However, Theis says she has a team of about 15 friends that have volunteered to use their gifts in order to serve A Brilliant Exchange. “Everything has been done on a volunteer basis so far,” she adds.

    Currently, A Brilliant Exchange is doing a crowdfunding campaign, which allows people to donate to the organization.

    “Our crowdfunding campaign began on November 1,” says Thies. “Our goal is to raise $50,000, which will be used to build the infrastructure and the online store that will allow us to begin the process of receiving and selling diamonds!”

    With the start of an organization such as A Brilliant Exchange, and the hope of starting a company infrastructure, Theis says she hopes to be able to educate Americans on how horrible, and common, human trafficking is around the world, and even in our own country.

    “There are about 45 million people in the world being held as slaves, and the majority of them are women and children, some as young as 4,” she says. “So until all of these people are free, there will be room for organizations like A Brilliant Exchange to step into the gap and start doing something radical.”bgv_ad_2

    Through A Brilliant Exchange, Theis says she hopes to bring freedom to every person in the world.

    Currently, Theis says she is unaware of another organization like A Brilliant Exchange, whose sole focus is to challenge women to give up their diamonds in exchange for a woman’s freedom. “There are millions of forgotten diamonds, from divorces to lost earrings and inherited pieces that just don’t get worn,” she says. “If all those diamonds could be taken out of those dresser drawers and basement storage, and donate, think of what could happen in the world.”

    To learn more about A Brilliant Exchange, visit www.abrilliantexchange.org. You can also donate to the campaign by clicking here.

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      Cincinnati-based Geetha Minton is a clothing designer with local roots, internationally-inspired designs, and a global vision to end human trafficking. Read more about her clothing line, GKM Design, and how she’s infusing Indian textiles and colors with Western silhouettes to create a stylish (and lifesaving) fashion empire.

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      Geetha Minton, Founder of GKM Design.

      Human trafficking is a worldwide epidemic that has impoverished thousands of women across the world. This concept of modern day slavery isn’t just limited to one country or one particular part of the world.

      From the U.S. to the Middle East, the fight to stop human trafficking has emerged in a number of ways. Geetha Minton, Cincinnati-based founder of GKM Design, is doing what she can to help women in Moldova who have been rescued from human trafficking.

      “GKM Design is a Freedom Business that helps support women who have been rescued from the red light districts of India and Moldova,” she explains. A percentage of the sales from GKM Design go to the organization Freeset, a fair trade business that helps to employ women who have been rescued from the sex trade.

      Photo by Sherri Barrber P
      Photo by Sherri Barrber Photography

      When working on the designs for her own dress line, Minton says she wanted to create something similar Western cut dresses but with the look of a sari or lehenga.

      “The Indian fabrics and embroidery are incredibly unique and the detail is like no other,” she says. “However, growing up in America I really admired the the style and drape of Western cut dresses. So I thought, why not marry the two?”

      So, with that idea in mind, Minton was able to fuse Western cut dresses with Indian textiles, colors and accents to insure a one-of-a-kind creation that you can’t find anywhere else.

      She knows all too well that you can’t find this design elsewhere, as she was first inspired to create this unique style when searching for bridesmaids dresses for her wedding. Frustrated in her search, Minton, with no formal design background, ended up designing her five bridesmaids dresses, each unique to their body type and personality.

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      That, she says, is where she found her passion for fashion design. Soon after, she began designing her own dresses for events and special occasions. Then, she began researching fabrics, embellishments, and regions where she could source her products and skilled workers.

      Today, while the majority of material needed for her dresses is sourced from India, Minton says that anything she can’t get from there is purchased from local businesses.

      Minton officially launched her business in Spring 2016, and her first collection will debut at the second annual Cincinnati Fashion Night on July 22 at Performance Lexus Rivercenter, in Covington KY. “We will be showcasing our signature dress line, which currently consists of 6 dresses, as the fashion show sponsor at the event,” she says.

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      More photos, details about the line, and information about Cincinnati Fashion Night event will be posted soon on her GKM Design Facebook page. Minton says she hopes to have the website launched by the end of July.

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      A Ft. Thomas-based boutique improves your life with fab fashion and accessories, while improving other lives across the world with safety and stable jobs. Keep reading for more.

      The Polished Pearl
      The Polished Pearl helps victims of human trafficking the change to obtain a stable job and the chance to change their fate.

      Victims of human trafficking aren’t looking for pity or handouts, they want stable jobs, and a chance to change their fate.

      While accurate stats are not easy to find, “It is estimated that of the 27 million trafficked globally, 14 million are in India alone,” Nicole Robyn says. “India has the third largest red light areas in the world.”

      Robyn is the creator of the Polished Pearl, a Ft. Thomas, KY-based for-profit online store that helps provide jobs to women in India and Moldova, who have already been, or would otherwise be, victims of human trafficking.

      “I went to India with a group of women that I prayed with weekly over the issue of human trafficking,” Robyn says. “We went to hear first-hand what the problem and needs were, and to see if we could help.”

      After arriving in India, Robyn was overcome with emotions ranging from anger to despair. Sitting down with the women who have been through more in their lifetimes than most can even dream, Robyn was inspired and provoked to show love towards those women and provide a sense of freedom.

      “My first day in India, ever, and here I am, in the largest Red light area in the world, in Mumbai, faced with those whom I had been praying for,” Robyn says.

      The showroom at the Polished Pearl.
      The showroom at the Polished Pearl.

      The Polished Pearl works with human trafficking survivors in India, and works preventatively in Moldova to offer women income to prevent them from leaving the country and risk getting trafficked.

      “We work with partners on the ground in India who not only offer a paycheck, but offer love, community, and care,” Robyn says. “In Moldova, they have women begging for work on their doorstep daily, there just aren’t enough opportunities, which is where we come in.”

      The Polished Pearl works closely with their partners and also travel abroad frequently to do sourcing, training and also to encourage those who work so tirelessly there.

      While some cannot even fathom the horrors of trafficking, all women can relate on universal levels.

      “Everywhere, women have been fed the lie that their value is connected to how they look and what they can do,” Robyn says. “At Polished Pearl we believe every woman has innate value and beauty, like a pearl, they are one-of-a-kind.”

      The Polished Pearl works to match the skill sets of the workers with the western market. The women are incredible with handy work, and create one-of-a-kind products for purchase overseas.

      “Since the goal is freedom, we are always looking at ways to adjust what we do to produce more freedom.”
      Ranging from belts, clutches, headpieces, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and bags, Polished Pearl shoppers can find looks to suit their styles, and know their purchase helps to offer a better life for others. Polished Pearl is currently making a transition to bring in more bridal-focused inventory.

      For more information visit http://polishedpearl.org or “like” Polished Pearl on Facebook.

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      Learn about the locally-launched fashion line that’s on a mission to fight human trafficking, and how you can help through their Kickstarter campaign.

      The Parative Project
      The Parative Project supports the rescue of women in India from human trafficking.

      It all started with a simple conversation. “During a conversation over lunch with my friend, Ryan Berg, who talked to me about human trafficking in India for the first time, I knew I wanted to use my project to spread awareness on the issue,” Drew Oxley recalls.

      Shortly after this eye-opening conversation, Oxley created the Parative Project. With a play on the word partitive, which means to “break apart,” Oxley, created a T-shirt company that not only tells a story with every single T-shirt design, but they would be made by the hands of those whose story is being told.

      The Parative Project is getting funding backing from Kickstarter, a crowdfunding website designed to accept donations from your peers to fund project-based companies. According to the Kickstarter website, it supports a variety of projects from films, games and music to art, design and technology. Kickstarter is full of projects, big and small, that are brought to life through the direct support of people.

      The Parative Project items are designed by an Ohio local artist, Joshua Minnich. The T-shirts have simple yet heartfelt catch phrases such as “Our freedom is tied together” and “You are loved.”

      “[Minnich] is great! I’ve been working with him for about a year now. I can’t put to paper what I’m thinking design­-wise, but Josh has a knack for nailing every design,” says Oxley when talking about the design process.

      One of the T-shirt designs available through The Parative Project.
      One of the T-shirt designs available through The Parative Project.

      According to Oxley, the women who will be constructing the garments in India have been rescued from human trafficking. “They will now receive a living salary, health care, retirement and proper aftercare,” he adds.

      In India, working conditions for civilians are sub par compared to other countries. Recently in January of this year, a story in the Huffington Post focused on a women’s garment workers’ union in Rajasthan, India. According to this article, garment workers sew nearly 150 pieces an hour, and make up for any shortfall in daily targets without overtime pay, even if pregnant or unwell. If they don’t meet their quotas, they face deductions from their wages and even lose their jobs. “None of those practices are being done with our partners’ workspaces,” says Oxley. “Our company and our partners are people over profit.”

      As for the women who are rescued from trafficking in India, the government offers them a one month aftercare program. This program is unpaid, though, and many women opt out of going. For the women who do go, many are forced back into being trafficked. The Aruna Project and Freeset—The Parative Project partners—are set out to be an alternative way out, as women are immediately paid for their training, which leads them to a self-sustaining job. The women are also offered assistance in finding a place to live, care for their children and aftercare rehabilitation.

      Another T-shirt design offered by The Parative Project.
      Another T-shirt design offered by The Parative Project.

      Now, there are only four days left to contribute to The Parative Project, and they’re only about $400 short of their $20,000 goal. “We had several backers in the first minutes. Our customers and fans were awesome right from the start,” explains Oxley.

      The Parative Project items—which includes T-shirts and recently expanded offerings such as children’s T-shirts, tote bags and flags—are for sale now by visiting their Kickstarter website. There, you can find more information about the business, their mission and follow their journey.

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