BY I AM THAT GIRL
Whether it’s the ring you received at graduation or the necklace you bought on a trip to Spain, your jewelry carries personal significance. For Jessica Hendricks, a piece of jewelry is more than a memento, it’s the difference between life and death as it holds the power to change the fate of women exploited and denigrated through human trafficking. Jessica runs The Brave Collection, a social entrepreneurship working with Cambodian artisans to make bracelets sold to raise awareness about the plight of human trafficking while creating new economic and educational opportunities for women. Each hand-crafted bracelet bears the word, “Klahan,” which means “brave” in Cambodian. Jessica became invested in the human trafficking problem while traveling through Cambodia during a teaching stint in Thailand. She transformed her concern into activism by combining her deep respect and reverence for the Buddhist culture with her long-standing love of fashion and jewelry, instilled in her from an early age by her mother who owns two jewelry stores.
If you could describe yourself in three words, what would those words be?
Passionate, Curious, Creative.
Tell us about a girl in your life who rocks.
My sister rocks. My sister’s a writer and the way she takes in the world and spits it back out with cleverness, wit and wisdom beyond her years just floors me.
What are your dreams/goals/ambitions?
I want to live in the moment. For me, it’s important to have gigantic dreams and remain fiercely ambitious, but yet always check in and be able to gain enough perspective to be able to remember what’s ultimately important. That’s the people you love who love you right back!
What are you most proud of?
I’ve made some really unconventional career choices, especially following my heart from Cambodia to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I second-guessed myself every step of the way, but I’m proud that I fought the urge to let my dreams fizzle for fear of failing or being different.
What piece of advice changed your life?
Someone said to me, ‘There are two kinds of people in the world, people who do things and people who talk about doing things; be the first kind.’
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Happy, fingers crossed! The older I get, the happier I seem to get because I develop a better understanding of who I am and what I want. Every day I become more and more capable of making the decisions that bring me closer to who I am meant to be. I’d really like to be a mom by then and do grown-up things like cook chicken and garden.
What is the number one item on your bucket list?
Travel to Africa! I think it’s so important to see the world, especially when you’re young, as it gives you such amazing perspective. I’ve always wanted to go to Ghana in particular, so it’s definitely on my bucket list.
Who has been the biggest female influence in your life and why?
My mom for sure. She has this incredible joie de vivre. She traveled to Africa in college and studied photography and birthed me in Paris. She opened a jewelry boutique when I was 15 and being part of that experience is definitely what gave me my entrepreneurial spirit.
What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken and what did you learn from it?
Traveling to Southeast Asia by myself. I was so terrified I almost canceled the trip. I learned that when I’m all alone, and there’s no one there to lean on, I can lean on myself and be just fine.
Why are you THAT GIRL?
I am a superwoman fighting off the bad guys until people everywhere can be free like me!
*Interview conducted and compiled by Sheila Moeschen*