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Sales Partner Profile: Justice Ventures International (USA)

Posted by: comms
Aug 8, 2014

Susan Kirk's second chance at life sparked her interest in helping the poor and oppressed, and led her to sell Freeset bags...

Privilege and responsibility

I was born in the US, which is a great privilege, with all the wealth, income and opportunity that comes with that. But it’s also a responsibility. I got a reminder on my visit to Freeset in India, that not everyone in the world lives this way. I have a responsibility to make a difference in the lives of the less privileged. It’s not a negative responsibility, it’s a call, whatever that looks like. We are called to be others-focused.

Fighting the trafficker

I am the Shop for Freedom manager, and I oversee all the distribution of product from Freedom projects. We are part of Justice Ventures International, a human rights organisation. Freedom merchandise is just one way we seek to be involved in justice. We also do casework, advocacy. We help Freeset and other organisations with legal issues, prosecuting traffickers. I say that we don’t just free the trapped, we fight the trafficker. We don’t just do rescue, or rehabilitation, but we also end the trafficking, we train judges and police.

I'm very new, I have been in the role since October 2013. I am the first paid member of staff in a program that has been running since 2007. Up until this point it has been a voluntary position. We do parties, events, custom orders, online sales.

Another opportunity

I have a background in design. I started a company that staged homes. Then I had breast cancer, and after coming through that I felt led to help different people - the sick - and I put my business on hold to work with a handful of people with cancer. I then went back to work, in staging, but after 4-5 months, really felt that I had been given another opportunity at life, to help people. Staging, changing people’s homes, wasn’t enough anymore. I wanted to work with the poor and the oppressed. I began exploring opportunities, and as I was leaving an interview, I had phone call from Jeff Pankratz at JVI offering me this position.

It’s the perfect fit for me. I have an entrepreneurial background, and I get to do logos, budgets, vision and marketing. I’ve worked with volunteers - I have a Master’s in student development. And there are design elements. It’s an amazing position, it’s brought everything together.

Vision of freedom

The people at Freeset are amazing to work with, and so understanding. Even through email you can sense a smile, helpfulness, that they are wanting to do everything they can to make a good working experience. At the distributors’ conference, I really appreciated the vision. The women that work at Freeset have a passion to see others called out of the trade. It is not just top down, it is bottom up. There is a vision of freeing all the women in the sex trade in Kolkata running through the whole place. There is a sense of joy. Also, I appreciate the way they keep an open-door. The number of visitors that come through is massive, and they can catch the vision and then go home and want to do something to help.

I have two kids, and I could empathize with the mums in India, who are trying to make ends meet, and to provide future opportunities for their kids. I felt a connection with the Freeset women. They are my sisters, we are one family. They are not people with blank faces.

My favourite Freeset bag is the Spree Chevron. That was my first purchase of the new line. It’s a great design trend right now.

I love a cappella music, I will always take the opportunity to go to a show.

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