My Liberty Story
Posted on October 19 2018
A made for TV movie changed my life. In 2005, I was up late one evening and channel surfed to a TV movie called Human Trafficking. The two part series starred Mira Sorvino as a police officer after a sex trafficking ring in America. This film based on true stories broke my heart. I sobbed myself to sleep that night. Woke up the next day and started to research the problem. After that I just couldn’t carry on life the way I did before. They say once you know you can never un-know.
For me it meant reassessing my career, a year later I gave my notice at my management job in Broadcasting and joined the headquarters of the Salvation Army in B.C. In preparation for the Olympics in Vancouver 2010 our team anticipated a demand for sex trafficking as other host cities experienced and we strategized to educate the public and facilitate relief programs for victims. Our media campaign ‘The Truth Isn’t Sexy’ on billboards and bus shelters in Vancouver raised the awareness of human trafficking from an overseas problem to a domestic epidemic. During that time our annual luncheon fundraiser raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Deborah’s Gate; a restorative safe home for survivors of trafficking which opened in 2009.
Today the Salvation Army is on the front end of support and relief work for survivors of trafficking across Canada. The important work of The Salvation Army and our committee contributed to new laws which made trafficking a crime in Canada. Human trafficking wasn’t legislated as a crime until 2010. Since then mandatory sentences of five years and fines up to $100,000 have been legislated. There is till work to be done.
Following my work with The Salvation, I decided to follow my passion for fashion. Yet I still wanted to help survivors of human trafficking. In 2011, I created Betty Be Good. I wanted to start a business with a vision to bring liberty to victims and be part of the solution to this heinous act. The vision was to be a catalyst for change both at home and oversees. At home with awareness of the issue, support of local agencies and in-kind gifts to support recovery. Oversees, I dream of creating job opportunities for at-risk women by building sustainable career options in the fashion sector. One day the vision of Betty Be Good is to produce ethically made fashion in high-risk countries such as Cambodia, Thailand and India. In the PNW, I dream of a distribution center for the online business that would employ women with the opportunity to be present for important moments in the lives of their families while still excelling in a career they are passionate about. Through a Betty signature brand I plan to expand with a passion for helping women look and feel their best... finding true liberty in style.
Today, we operate two boutique locations in the Birch Bay and Bellingham Washington communities. We give 2% of daily sales to a fund called Betty’s Liberty Closet. This fund clothes survivors of human trafficking in recovery at Deborah’s Gate in Vancouver and Engedi Refuge in the PNW.
In June of 2016, Betty Be Good presented a limited release film called SOLD to an audience in Bellingham, WA followed by a Q&A with local agencies and charities about the issue. In 2017 our boutiques engaged in the Fashion Hope clothing drive where our shoppers donated gently used clothing for survivors in Seattle and the PNW. Over the past couple years Betty Be Good has organized and presented an annual fashion show fundraiser called Liberty In Style to benefit Engedi Refuge in the fall of 2018 & 2019. Together with our generous community we raised over $18,500 to support the restorative care of survivors rebuilding their lives at Engedi Refuge.
~ by Suzanne Smith, Owner of Betty Be Good