‘Fashion for Freedom’ runway show benefits My Refuge House

Fashion is more than just clothes, accessories, runway shows and red carpets — the industry can also be used as a way to bring people together for an important cause.

My Refuge House hosted “Fashioned for Freedom” Nov. 1. My Refuge House is a nonprofit organization that houses girls and young women rescued from sexual trafficking in the Philippines. The organization also offers emotional, educational and spiritual support to empower them to be strong, independent women who effect change in their society.

“We bring in these girls who are completely broken and then they actually come into our family,” said Amber Schlosser, Director of Development of My Refuge House. The organization provides girls with resources to recuperate and establish themselves once they leave the house.

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My Refuge House helps girls who have survived human trafficking throughout the Philipines. Photo credit: Lisa Salinas

“We have a property where we have house parents, a nurse on staff, a homeschool curriculum that’s made just for them, because a lot of them that come into our program have maybe a third grade education,” Schlosser said. “They come into our home, get the counseling and love they need so they can be healed inside and out.”

My Refuge House aims to foster women who are strong and healthy following the trauma they must overcome. “Our goal is always for them to go outside the walls of My Refuge House and thrive on their own with a good support system,” Schlosser said. “We hook them up with mentors and support them all the way through college or a career path that they choose.”

Everyone involved in the organization provides support for the girls. “A whole community really surrounds these girls and lifts them up to make sure they finish strong,” Schlosser said.

Schlosser believes programs such as this one are necessary to ensure girls coming from these situations are kept on the right track.

“We call this process ‘the long rescue,’ because a lot of people don’t think about what happens when someone is rescued from child trafficking,” Schlosser said. “They think ‘Oh, they got rescued, now they are better,’ but the thing is that’s just where it starts. If they don’t have that proper care, they are likely to go back into where they started out of desperation.”

This is the fourth year My Refuge House hosted “Fashioned for Freedom.” All the proceeds from the event, including ticket sales and a percentage of vendor sales, will benefit the organization.

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"Fashioned for Freedom" runway show Photo credit: Isabella Von Habsburg

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In addition to a runway show, "Fashioned for Freedom" hosted a silent auction benefiting My Refuge House. Photo credit: Isabella Von Habsburg

“We love doing a fashion show because we love working with the models and showing that the fashion industry can have a positive influence,” Schlosser said. “It’s a great way for people to come and connect in a unique way and learn about the cause.”

The fashion show took place at the Brake and Clutch Warehouse in Deep Ellum. The large warehouse was filled with fashionably dressed attendees on the cool Wednesday night. Attendee Bryce Hayden looked forward to the event and said he appreciated its cause.

“I think it’s a huge cause that we need to get out there, promote and get women out of human trafficking,” Hayden said.

Miranda Bennett, Clan of Cro and Folksie were the three brands featured during the runway show.

“They each have a minimalist aesthetic — you’ll see a lot of black and white. They also are a little bit more simple; minimalist lines, very clean and very modern-looking,” said Victoria Andreas one of the fashion show’s primary planners.

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Designer clothing auction following the show Photo credit: Lisa Salinas

Each brand collaborated with an artist to design a dress specifically for the show. These special-edition dresses could be bought during the show via silent auction. Miranda Bennett collaborated with artist Erin Walsh, Clan of Cro with Ruben Burgess and Folksie with Mathew Brinston.

Vendors also contributed to the event. Each vendor had a different sales percentages donated to My Refuge House, ranging from 10 to 90 percent. Some even created items specifically for the organization, such as 9010 shop.

“9010 shop is online and she curated some of the items that are in her shop for My Refuge House,” said My Refuge House CEO Heather Bland. “Others are being very generous with around 20 percent of their profits,” Bland said.

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Vickery Trading Company was one of many vendors at "Fashioned for Freedom" Photo credit: Lisa Salinas

Other vendors at the event included Vickery Trading Company, Melt Goods and more. Vickery Trading Company hires refugee women who live in Dallas and trains them to sew, in addition to having personal development and cultural assimilation training. Founder and president of Vickery Trading Company Stephanie Giddens said she was honored to be at the fashion show.

“I’m getting to support the women that I work with everyday, which is really incredible to me to be able to watch them grow and learn,” Giddens said. It was also rewarding for Giddens to give back to My Refuge House’s cause.

“To be able to give back to My Refuge House is so exciting… To watch these girls being taken out of something that is so terrible and to be brought into a new life and safety is an incredible opportunity,” Giddens said.

Although the fashion show benefited girls living far from the Dallas area, My Refuge House director of engagement Kim Jones assured attendees that their presence and contributions will not go unnoticed. Jones described a young girl who impacted her life.

“A few months ago, I sat across the table from Maggie. I looked into her eyes and I didn’t see sadness,” Jones said in her presentation. “I saw light, I saw possibility, I saw a young women who was empowered. I believe that Maggie will change her family, her village… I believe ultimately Maggie will change her country,” Jones said. “Maggie knows each one of you are here. Each one of you tonight helps to make Maggie brave.”

My Refuge House CEO Heather Bland, also strongly believes in the positive impact the organization has on the girls.

“We are small but mighty, and we’re in the business of hope,” Bland said.

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