Gingras Global Magazine Fall 2017 - Page 34

Bags to Butterflies

GG: Michelle, Maybe give us an overview of Bags to Butterflies?

Michelle: Bags To Butterflies, L3C, a social enterprise located in Detroit. Our mission to help reduce recidivism within our community by providing female returning citizens with employment and training opportunities as well as connecting the ladies with resources, support and a caring network that will help empower them to redefine their life purpose.

We take an innovative approach to employ female returning citizens (immediately upon their return from incarceration) by using a very common women’s accessory: a handbag. Our method is unique in that our handbags are handmade and most are created using repurposed woods that has been given new life. Our hands-on approach for our handbag production is used to demonstrate how something old and discarded can be transformed into something new and beautiful. Our ladies are shown how the same transformation can be accomplished in their lives through commitment and perseverance, despite an imperfect past.

GG: Why is empowerment important to you (opposed to rescue)?

Michelle: Empowerment is important to me because it warrants accountability and responsibility. It is about becoming your own individual change agent, basically owning your own life. I believe that by continuing to rescue individuals, we protect them from their life experiences.

Michelle Smart

of Bags to Butterflies

Q & A about rescue