“Sisters Before Misters” and “Make Herstory.”
Those are a couple of the statements on T-shirts sold by My Sister, a new Uptown-based apparel company donating a portion of its profits to nonprofits fighting sex trafficking.
The founders of the company include Mandy Multerer, who has a background in marketing and photography; Jonathan Sipola, a social entrepreneur and former social studies teacher; and Wayne Zink, president of the Endangered Species Chocolate Foundation.
The company is donating 6 percent of its sales revenue to its nonprofit partners MN Girls Are Not For Sale, a campaign of the Minnesota Women’s Foundation to end trafficking, and Maiti Nepal, a nonprofit that helps Nepali girls and women victimized by sex trafficking and domestic violence.
It sells T-shirts, tanks, jewelry, beauty and metallic tattoos, among other things. All of the products are sourced from fair trade vendors.
Multerer said the company hopes to spark a conversation about trafficking and raise awareness about the issue.
“We basically wanted thought-inducing statements,” she said. “At the root of sex trafficking is the objectification of women and a lot of gender inequality issues. We are all impacted by it. … Our motto is we’re all sisters so let’s do something about it.”
My Sister is holding a launch party for its summer clothing line June 4 at the Aria in the North Loop. The event will feature a performance by interdisciplinary artist Sha Cage, a fashion show produced by Sarah Edwards, a fundraiser and pop-up shops.
The company is also participating in Northern Spark — an all-night arts festival in Minneapolis on June 13. Sha Cage will be part of the event as well and passersby will be offered My Sister metallic tattoos at their installation near the back of the Mill City Museum on the city’s riverfront.
My Sister sells clothing online, but the goal is to sell products in boutiques and eventually open a brick-and-mortar store.
“We hope to continue to grow,” Multerer said. “We want to offer employment opportunities for survivors of trafficking because they have a harder time getting jobs.”
The company currently employs one sex trafficking survivor, she said.
In Minnesota, youth who engage in prostitution are considered victims and survivors under the Safer Harbor Law, which has become a national model.
The legislation, passed in 2011, defined youth under the age of 18 involved in prostitution as victims rather than criminals, increased penalties against commercial sex abusers and purchasers and created a new statewide service model called No Wrong Door, which provides a network of resources for trafficking victims.
The Women’s Foundation’s five-year, $5 million MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign launched in 2011. It has awarded grants to organizations working on fighting trafficking, focused on efforts to decrease demand for child prostitution and educated the community about the issue.
When it announced its campaign, it cited statistics indicating that the Twin Cities ranked 13th on the FBI’s list of the largest centers in the country for the prostitution of adolescent girls. The U.S. Justice Department reported that 13 is the average age a girl is first prostituted, but some are as young as 11.
My Sister has pledged to donate 100 percent of its sales revenue up to $10,000 to the MN Girls Are Not For Sale campaign for purchases made May 14–21.