In honor of Women’s History Month, we are continuing to recognize and celebrate women through our Top Ten Most Inspiring Women Series. We’ve interviewed many amazing women and we’re excited to introduce you to Shabranae Patton, CEO & Founder of Anchor’d Inc.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
Anchor’d Inc is a home decor and accessories boutique, and we specialize in coastal home decor for the most part. I’m in Boston, Massachusetts; I actually moved here almost three years ago from Texas.
In Texas, I was an advocate for victims and survivors of human trafficking through our parent company, The A21 Campaign. Over my time of volunteering with them and spreading the word about human trafficking, I got to a point to where I wanted to know what I could do more, other than just me talking about it, other than me sharing my story, is there anything that I could do?
One of the ladies at the organization flat out told me that do what you love, whatever it is you’re passionate about, whatever it is that you love doing on a regular basis, do that and dedicate it to what we do as an organization.
I’m also a sexual assault and domestic assault survivor, so my life experiences coupled with my advocacy work is kind of how Anchor’d Inc was born. We didn’t officially start until 2019 when I moved here to Massachusetts, but the makings of Anchor’d Inc and the work of Anchor’d Inc has been in the making for roughly over a decade now.
“Human trafficking is not something that just happens in movies. It is here, in the United States.”
Can you give us some background on human trafficking?
Most people, when I first talk to them about human trafficking, they immediately think of the movies and the kidnappings. While that happens, that is a very small percentage of what happens in human trafficking. Human trafficking happens right here in the United States; the United States is now third in the world for human trafficking, and that looks different for multiple people. For some people, that looks like kidnapping, and that’s what most people are familiar with when they hear the words human trafficking.
What they’re not familiar with is the fact that their children are being groomed online by these traffickers. They treat them as if they love them. They trick them and coerce them into believing that they can take care of them. I don’t consider myself a human trafficking victim. However, I am a sexual assault survivor. When looking at the process of how that happened with me, it was a grooming process.
Or maybe it’s a situation where a person has gone on a job interview, that’s really not a job interview. A lot of people don’t realize that it’s something that’s happening around the corner, nail shops, hair salons, and massage parlors. It’s everywhere. This is not something foreign. This is something that’s very present. It’s very prevalent here in the United States. As a matter of fact, it’s a $150 billion a year industry. It’s still growing because, unfortunately, the demand is still growing.
“Spreading awareness is key.”
For people who want to get involved, what would be ways that they could help out?
I like to tell people the different ways that you can help out includes: share and like posts on social media, attend a seminar, talk to your children about being safe outside. Make sure children know to watch your surroundings, make sure you’re paying attention, don’t go places by yourself, stay in a group if you’re outside. There’s a lot of different ways that people can help, but spreading awareness is the big key.
The problem is most people don’t know, most people think it is a third world country problem. I will tell another person, just like The A21 Campaign told me, what are you passionate about? What do you love doing? If you like dancing, dance for the cause, right? If you like cooking, cook for the cause, right? Attach it to what it is that you love, and what it is that you care about,and that’s always going to be helpful in ending modern-day slavery.
What change do you want to see in the world and how do you aid that cause?
Obviously, for us, it’s all about freedom.
Everything we do is connected from the moment that I design the materials and the beautiful items you see in our store. In those moments when I’m designing, I’m thinking about the freedom of victims and survivors. What would they want to see? How would they want to feel? We take those designs and we push it to our customers.
We take those customers and inform them how their support of us helps to change the world that we live in. Each time someone purchases with Anchor’d Inc, we get to make these amazing care packages for victims and survivors all over the world. That’s the world-changing thing that we’re doing.
A lot of people don’t know this, but as a sexual assault survivor, there’s a gap in between when a survivor is recognized, and when they receive that level of freedom that we all strive to have. No one’s taking care of them for aftercare. For example, undergarments, feminine hygiene products, socks, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant, and all of these things that are so essential to how we live every day. We want to take care of them and make sure that we’re not letting them drift off. Through these care packages, we provide that anchor for them.
“Success doesn’t look like billions of dollars. If I can do what I love, and I can do what I care about, I am successful.”
How do you define success?
A lot of people go to work everyday and hate what they do. They hate working 80 hours or 120 hours or however many hours they’re working. It’s hard to feel successful in those moments when you feel like you’re not doing the things that you really truly love, and what you really truly care about. And for me, I think that defines success. If I can do what I love, and I can do what I care about, I am successful. Success doesn’t look like billions of dollars. It doesn’t look like billions of friends. To me, success is being able to enjoy what I do, and loving what I do.
Tell us about an accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
My most memorable moment just happened last year because we’ve been able to reach and touch more survivors and victims during the pandemic. We’ve had to pivot and do a lot more online connecting, networking, and making ourselves more visible online.
Initially, we were, of course, more in-person. We did seminars, conferences, and festivals. Which is great and wonderful, but it only gives you that connection to that group of people that you’re seeing at that moment. Versus now, being in the situation that we are all in we’ve all had to adopt Zoom and being online. We’ve been able to connect so much. I’ve met so many different people and organizations online. It’s been ridiculously amazing.
This past year, we were able to send out 967 care packages, which is probably more than we’ve ever done since we’ve started, and that included victims and survivors, both locally here in Massachusetts and nationally. We’ve sent packages to Ohio, California, and Arizona. We’ve partnered with a few Native American reservations to help them out because they are also experiencing what we consider modern-day slavery coupled with a pandemic. As so, this past year has just been so eye-opening for us because we’ve been able to touch so many more people versus just being in person.
What is the most important business or personal discovery you’ve made?
My most important business discovery is that this is not easy. It looks easy. Being an entrepreneur, a teacher, a mom, an advocate, and a survivor myself. This is hard work. I commend anybody out there who’s doing the work. It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. Long nights. Early mornings. I can guarantee you I don’t think about much other than my business for the most part, and everything that’s connected to that. It’s hard work, and you have to be really determined, and really steadfast in what you’re trying to do as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
A lot of times when I was younger, and even as an adult, people would tell me “You’re such a Disney person. You’re such a fairy tale.” For a long time when I was younger, it used to be my pet peeve when people would say that. Because I’m a hopeless romantic, or whatever you want to call it.
So many people tried to change me when I was little. Even in high school and college. But they didn’t realize that I used those Disney-type situations to take my mind away from what was happening to me. I always pretended I was the strong person and that I could handle anything. And I grew up to become that person. And so that’s who I am today.
I would tell my younger self, don’t ever stop being you. Keep being you. Don’t let anybody change who you are. Don’t change your outlook in how you see things and how you see people. Keep believing that because it keeps you going.
Shabranae wants you to know…
If you need help, if you’re afraid or you don’t necessarily know how to get in contact, or who to get in contact with, or you don’t trust the hotline or you can’t access the hotline, I am a DM away.
I don’t care who you are. I don’t care about your ethnicity. I don’t care about your sexuality. I don’t care what’s happening. If you need my assistance, please send me a message, an email, a DM, whatever the case may be. I will make sure that we figure out how to get you the help that you need.
Why Shabranae Patton is On this List
“We encouraged Shabranae to self-nominate after ‘meeting’ her on Twitter. Usually, we stick a little closer to our home state with this series, but Shabranae’s story was too amazing not to share. We have a soft spot for entrepreneurs and the way Anchor’d Inc combines a business passion with a serious desire to do good in the world just blew us away. We’re so glad we got to know Shabranae better and we’re excited to follow along with her journey!”
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