I completed my Capstone project in the Fall of 2022. As an Advertising major and someone who has had experience interning with several non-profits, I was immediately drawn to the partnership with DIVAs Freedom Boutique. The project proposal spoke to my interests, the goal of the Capstone being to work closely with the organization to develop effective communication strategies to bolster engagement with their brand. Knowing that my skill set would match well with this type of work, I really wanted to put my knowledge to good use, amplifying DIVAs’ voice through calculated branding techniques.
While I had heard of DIVAs before working with them, I did not know how multi-faceted their work was. DIVAs Freedom Boutique is a second-hand clothing and accessory shop that is part of a much larger mission. DIVAs Freedom Boutique supports the larger non-profit DIVAs Who Win, an organization that raises awareness and assists women navigating through sex trafficking, prostitution, and addiction.
DIVAs has three locations: the Freedom Center, Freedom Boutique, and Freedom Experience. The Freedom Center is located on Hawthorne Avenue and is a space for women to find support. It serves as a resource center with various programs, a self-care parlor, community kitchen, and peer coaches. The Freedom Boutique and Experience can be found next door to one another, and are tucked away in a large complex off of Baxter Street. The boutique is an upscale second-hand store with products ranging from $5-$35. Adorning the walls are statistics related to the DIVAs mission, making information related to trafficking, prostitution, and addiction accessible to customers stopping in. The boutique provides funds to the DIVAs mission, offers work opportunities to survivors, raises awareness within the community, and participates in the fight against fast fashion. A few steps away from the shop is the Freedom Experience, which is a simulation that shows participants what it is like to be brought into human trafficking.
Promotional video made for the boutique
At our tabling event where we shared materials with customers during the store's Super Saturday Sale
Our project very well captured all three spheres of sustainability, also reflecting a broader lesson that I learned throughout my Certificate learning. Working with DIVAs showed me an example of what a sustainable organization can look like. They approached the environmental sphere by providing the community with a second-hand shop that combats waste and promotes a more circular economy. The economic sphere was broached by having fair prices at their store, providing job opportunities to survivors, and sharing services that enable women to be career-ready. The social sphere came in through DIVAs overall mission of fighting for equality for women and providing survivors with resources.
This project was a summation of all that I have experienced throughout my Certificate learning. One of my biggest takeaways from my sphere courses and the seminar, was the importance of making sustainability accessible and seeing how sustainability extends beyond the environment. While my main interest used to be rooted in conservation and ecology, I have begun to develop a greater interest in the social sphere. Working with DIVAs let me explore this realm more, because without equality, we cannot achieve a sustainable future.