When Jonathan Klein entered an Oregon salon he didn’t expect inspiration to strike.
The conversation: A hairdresser explained to Klein his need for 30 hair-cutting shears so he could go to Nicaragua and train women housed at a sex trafficking rescue house how to style hair.
Klein shared the story with business partner Chris McCarley. The businessmen distribute Hattori Hanzo Shears to high-profile hairstylists across the nation, including Ken Paves, hairdresser to Jessica Simpson, Victoria Beckham and Oprah. But the Oregon hairdresser’s story inspired another path for the business — a non-profit.
The Trade, based in El Dorado Hills, “takes shears on trade for new shears and resharpens old ones,” McCarley explained. The old shears are then either sold, with 100 percent of the profits used to buy new shears, or taken to depressed areas with salon teams. Members of those teams then teach women who have been rescued from sex trafficking a new and respectable way to make a living for themselves and their families.
“The places we go are not big cities; they are slums. There’s really no opportunity for [the women] to get educated. A lot of them aren’t able to read,” McCarley said. “We have to teach them through example.”
The Trade has sent out its own groups and also partnered with organizations sending out hairstylist teams in the slums of Brazil, Mexico, Kenya and Costa Rica.
The organization is more “preventative in nature, but we’re also restorative,” McCarley said, explaining that they do not rescue women from sex trafficking, but rather provide them with options for their lives.
“We’re hopefully empowering these women,” he added. “It gives them a little bit of a dream, a little bit of a hope for their future.”
So far McCarley estimates that the organization has affected the lives of 100 women all over the world. The Trade also provides scholarships to cosmetology school for women within the United States who have been rescued from sex trafficking.
In the future McCarley said he hopes this organization will be “enough of a spark to get the ball rolling of people being self-sufficient.” He said he would like to see a graduate of the program go on the road with them and attend national hair-cutting and stylist conventions to tell her story and inspire others in the business.
The Trade has quite a following. Ken Paves will opened his salon in Beverly Hills on Sept. 9 and donated all of the day’s revenue to the cause. Glamour Magazine also features The Trade in its August issue.
On Sept. 16 The Trade hosts its second annual “Cut-for-a-Cause” fundraiser, in which salons across the country participate by donating all the money they normally receive from the day’s work to benefit the non-profit organization. In 2011 more than 100 stylists in Sacramento alone participated in this event.
To find out how to participate in this event or for more information visit The Trade’s website at supportthetrade.org.