MY SISTER Uses Women’s Day Traffic to Stop Traffick

Mission-based apparel company releases new collection in support of women’s rights

Illustrator: Stevie Lacher

Illustrator: Stevie Lacher

Walking up a pathway painted brightly with rainbow stripes, it was apparent upon entering MY SISTER’s Uptown Minneapolis store that inclusion and cheerful attitudes were in attendance.

As it was International Women’s Day, the store was filled with patrons there to purchase MY SISTER’s new clothing line, released purposefully on that honorary day.

The store, set-up to accommodate an event for the release of the collection, was abundant with City Girl Coffee and Glam Doll donuts sporting feminist inscriptions on them—businesses that are in line with MY SISTER’s mission of intersectionality.

A wall was dedicated to survivors of sex trafficking, and colored pens were available for anyone who wanted to dedicate a sentiment to the cause. All messages will be displayed at Breaking Free, a non-profit and social justice organization in St. Paul that helps women escape systems of prostitution and sexual exploitation.

“All of the clothing is sweatshop free, exploitation free, with the use of soy-based ink, so it’s environmentally friendly. We look at everything,” CFO Nicole Fende said.

According to MY SISTER’s website, the company works to prevent sex trafficking, educate communities, empower the population, provide after-care for survivors, and offer growth opportunities to at-risk women through the sales of ethically-sourced apparel and accessories.

The company gives 10 percent of its proceeds to fight sex trafficking in Minnesota. The company has raised almost $86,000 thus far.

“I think as someone who is a millennial myself, I’m always looking for brands that actually support causes,” the Director of Marketing, Maria McGinty, said. “This is one where we really put our money where our mouth is.”

The new collection focuses on clothing that read statements like: “badass feminist,” “intersectional feminism,” “not here to please you,” and “we can only be human together.”

The company gives 10 percent of its proceeds to fight sex trafficking in Minnesota. The company has raised almost $86,000 thus far.

“These shirts are meant to get discussion going and for people to think about sex trafficking issues,” Fende said. “Part of our goal is raising awareness and not just selling shirts.”

Fende, who also works as an actuary, hopes to inspire young girls to pursue an education in the math and sciences. She is unhappy with the underrepresentation of women in STEM.

MY SISTER originally launched in 2015 and has since worked with and raised money for non-profit partners who help with their mission to prevent sex trafficking.

“There is a real problem here in Minnesota with sex trafficking,” Fende said. “A lot of people think it doesn’t happen here–that it happens somewhere else. It’s happening here, it’s a real issue here in the Twin Cities.”

Furthering this sentiment, the company is starting a survivor internship program for people that are transitioning out of their lives in the sex trafficking industry. MY SISTER believes that the work needs to be systemically broken.

Photographer: Isabella Murray

Photographer: Isabella Murray

The collection’s release brought in much traffic—both in the retail store and online, much of which came from the local community. According to McGinty, “People were ready when employees were opening the door.”

Beyond the text on the shirts, unisex options were available to promote an intersectional and inclusive approach to fighting for women’s rights.

The choice to release the new collection on International Women’s Day was made because of the increased awareness about issues that affect young women surrounding the day.

“Part of International Women’s Day is not just to empower women but to encourage them to live in a safe world where we’re not going to be objectified or victims of violence,” Fende said.