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My Sister Fights Sex Trafficking with Fashion

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A new Minnesota-based company is mixing fashion with social consciousness, creating a line of products that raises money for victims of sex trafficking. When you buy a T-shirt, tank, jewelry, or metallic tattoo from My Sister, you'll be helping nonprofits with their missions to stop human trafficking around the world. Through Thursday, May 21, a dollar-for-dollar match on each purchase will go toward MN Girls Are Not For Sale, an anti-trafficking program started in 2010 by the Women's Foundation.

My Sister is a benefit corporation, a new classification that Minnesota just introduced in January. That means that the company has a giving mission indoctrinated into all of its agreements. Every two years, they will partner with two nonprofits, which will receive 6 percent of their gross sales.

"It's a socially friendly way of doing business," co-owner Mandy Multerer says. 

Multerer's partners in the new business venture include Wayne Zink, who formerly managed Endangered Species Chocolate (which had a similar benefit set-up), and Jonathan Sipola, who used to teach social studies in Australia. "He got into teaching kids about trafficking, and was astounded by how big the issue is and how little is heard and done about it," Multerer says. 

As for Multerer, she has a marketing and design background, and has been a feminist since she was little, so "it was a natural thing for us to team up on," she says. 

The slogans expressed on the T-shirts and other products carry feminist messages, but don't confront trafficking directly. Examples include statements like "I object, I am not an object," "You're not the boss of me," and "Sisters before misters." Multerer designed most of the logos, but teamed up with artists on some pieces. 

Before the project, Multerer didn't know a lot about sex trafficking. "It's been an interesting education cycle for me," she says.

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"[Sex trafficking] is really about gender inequality, and the objectification of women," she continues. "It affects all women in some way or another." 

From last Thursday through Thursday, May 21, a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10,000 will go toward Girls are Not for Sale, in addition to 6 percent of all sales going toward MN Girls Are Not For Sale and Maiti Nepal, the two current nonprofit partners of My Sister. 

On June 4, My Sister kicks off its summer line at a launch party at ARIA. There will be  storytelling by Sha Cage, and a fashion show by Sarah Edwards of I AM MPLS/I AM ST. PAUL. They will also be participating in Rock the Garden and Northern Spark, where they'll offer metallic tattoos as a donation fundraiser.

"It's nice, because we can adjust our giving structure with events," Multerer says.