A little ways down the Ohio River, Drew and Carolyn Oxley are making waves in Cincinnati with their labor of love, The Parative Project. What may look like a t-shirt company is actually a lifestyle brand that exists to raise awareness on the issue of human trafficking and directly aid those who are affected.
Drew has been using t-shirts to tell a story since he was in high school, when he attempted to woo a crush with a handmade shirt stating “My Love For You Goes On For Ages.” While that particular shirt may not have been the most effective, Drew realized that shirts could be used to communicate ideas in a creative way. “Years later I started The Parative Project, we make tees to spark conversations about what can be done to eradicate human trafficking and give hope to those who are fighting for the cause and to those who have been victimized by it,” Drew explains.
It was later that he discovered two specific organizations that work alongside women who have been trafficked, exploited and forced into labor: Freeset and The Aruna Project. “The founder of The Aruna Project, Ryan Berg, was the first person to introduce me to the whole issue. At the time, he was just leading student groups over, since then he’s gone onto start the Aruna 5k and in February he set up shop in India,” Drew shares.
After learning about the work being done by both companies, Drew decided he wanted to move production of Parative’s shirts to India. “Here, the tees wouldn’t just tell a story; they would be made by the hands of those whose story is being told.” The folks at Parative know that these women are hard working and talented, and they believe in them. Not only do they want to hire them, they want to empower them and let them know that they are valued. How? With t-shirts.
In order to move production to India, The Parative Project is running a KickStarter campaign and for this campaign, they decided to design t-shirts not for their customers, but for their future employees. “I wanted to design something that was for them to make. I’d imagine that most of the time they’re making shirts or bags intended for others to use. I really wanted to let them know that we are doing this for them, something the women can be proud of.” Thus, the two shirt designs launched for the campaign read “You Are Loved” and “Our Freedom Is Tied Together,” something that is sure to inspire both the creators and the eventual owners of the shirts.
If successfully funded, Parative will transfer production of its merchandise to create sustainable job opportunities for women who have been empowered out of the trade in partnership with organizations like The Aruna Project and Freeset. The team also has plans to work with an agency, Other Sons, to build up their brand and really get the ball rolling with Parative. “They’re going to help us really nail our identity and website. We plan on expanding our catalog, as we are pitching our current inventory to replace with the products made in India. Then we will take a wholesale approach to create larger orders for Freeset and Aruna to fill, meaning that they’ll have a higher demand for bringing more women into freedom!” Ryan exclaims. They also want to bring new skills to the women – candles, leatherwork, hair – “We would love to cater to their interests!”
Want to help bring freedom to women around the world? Spread the word & check out their kickstarter campaign (which ends in 4 days!)