This New Pop-Up Series Aims to Highlight Local Women Entrepreneurs and Benefit Human Trafficking Survivors

Creatively DC will feature fashion and accessories made by local artisans, advocates, and survivors.

All photographs courtesy of Karana Rising.

Finding a way to shop locally, sustainably, and ethically can be difficult, but the new event series Creatively DC wants to change that.

The gathering is the brain child of two DC women: Andrea Powell of Karana Rising, a group that helps local survivors of human trafficking find care, jobs, and housing, and Rebecca Ballard of Maven Woman, a line of ethically and sustainably made womenswear.

Creatively DC will host its first get-together July 24 at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery. Local women artisans will be on-site selling jewelry, clothes, accessories, and other goods, and the evening will focus on fostering female entrepreneurship and empowering survivors of human trafficking.

Powell and Ballard were originally familiar with each other via their social justice work and connected to find a way to combine their interests in sustainable fashion, ethical supply chains, anti-trafficking advocacy, and supporting local women-led business.

“[We] realized that DC as a whole is really missing that women entrepreneurs’ creative space,” says Powell. “It’s emerging, but there’s not an event that’s showcased it like this. This is deepening that conversation and widening the landscape in DC.”

Karana Rising’s jewelry is hand-made by local survivors and advocates out of materials found in Rock Creek Park.

Powell originally founded Fair Girls, an anti-trafficking nonprofit, but switched her focus to Karana Rising when she realized many of the women she worked with weren’t finding safe, fulfilling jobs.

Via Karana, Powell helps survivors develop the skills needed to secure jobs in industries such as wellness and jewelry-making, and she plans to begin hosting general business training workshops for survivors, as well as crash courses in anti-trafficking advocacy.

“For so many survivors, they’ve been told by their traffickers that no one will ever value them beyond their body or take them seriously,” says Powell. “This is about saying, ‘The traffickers are wrong and you’re a valuable woman.'”

Ballard has similar interests. The former human rights lawyer makes sure all Maven pieces are sustainably created by women making a living wage in an ethical setting, and the group works with a variety of fair-trade and anti-trafficking partners.

And in addition to their passion for socially conscious, female-driven business, both Ballard and Powell see this first Creatively DC event as the start of something a lot bigger.

“[We want to] think about how to be more of an incubator for women entrepreneurs,” says Powell. “We’re certainly open to thinking about Creatively DC as something that other women-led, ethical, sustainable companies can step into. Ultimately we want this to be a shared space.”

This week’s event will feature food and drink from local groups like Ace Beverage, Say Cheese!, and Captain Cookie, and there is a $75 suggested donation upon entry. All donations will go toward Karana Rising.

And save the date for August 2, when the duo plans to host another Creatively DC pop-up at Farragut Fridays.

Mimi Montgomery Washingtonian
Home & Features Editor

Mimi Montgomery joined Washingtonian in 2018. She’s written for The Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Outside Magazine, Washington City Paper, DCist, and PoPVille. Originally from North Carolina, she now lives in Del Ray.