By Ashley Shuler
Make more than a fashion statement.
That’s the slogan of a new downtown Franklin boutique, byTavi, which sells fair trade clothing and accessories to help put an end human trafficking.
And although it may not seem like it, according to t
he Indiana Attorney General’s website, human trafficking is the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world, generating roughly $150 billion worldwide.
To counteract this global problem, fair trade boutiques like byTavi put all of their proceeds into programs to deter individuals and families from turning to human trafficking.
The boutique is run by the Center for Global Impact, a local organization based in Greenwood that gives life skill and vocational training to women and children in Camb
Although the center has multiple programs, like the Imprint Project, which helps formerly-trafficked women and children reintegrate, its seamstress vocational training program, called byTavi, provides goods to sell at the boutique and online.
“We try to provide them with a skill and a steady income for generations to come,” said Kristen Baynai, the director of byTavi who has a personal connection to human trafficking. “The focus is on getting the women a job and giving them skills.”
byTavi carries a selection of boutique clothing and accessories, ranging from handbags to stuffed elephants.
The average item in the boutique is priced around $20 or $30, but items go as low as $5.
Sophomore McKenna Brown has been working as a boutique sales associate since July.
Brown said she learned about the boutique after volunteering there for her human trafficking winter term course last year.
“Taking that class helped me understand that it (human trafficking) goes on all around you,” Brown said. “I learned about the extent and the numbers and why it happens.”
Part of Brown’s job is to educate customers about the boutique and its mission.
“It’s important to educate people,” Brown said. “It happens right in your backyard. … It could happen to anyone, and if you’re impoverished, you could have to turn to that.”
The boutique is the only standing byTavi location. It moved from Greenwood to Franklin in the middle of August.
Since the move, Hali Mynatt, byTavi boutique manager, said sales have doubled.
“Everyone in Franklin has been extremely encouraging,” Mynatt said. “People have said it’s a good place to go get a gift in Franklin. … It’s a place where you can get something different and meaningful.”
Baynai said the boutique is an opportunity for people to support fair trade and give back.
“When you buy something here, it’s not going back to us,” Baynai said. “You’re not just getting something. You’re changing lives.”
byTavi is located at 436 E. Jefferson St. in downtown Franklin, a 10-minute walk from campus. The boutique is open 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Shop online by visiting www.bytavi.com.