The mission of Freewell goes beyond taking care of yourself by using the Power Gloss hair treatment. It’s also about taking care of others–specifically victims and survivors of human trafficking. This cause is something near to the heart of Freewell’s founder and CEO, Shandi Nichelle, who is also a sexual assault survivor.
Upon creating Freewell’s brand, Shandi knew that she wanted it to be something bigger than haircare. She knew that her experience with her own sexual assault would be empowering to share with Freewell’s customers and it would provide a deeper purpose for her brand. However, before she was able to connect her entrepreneurship endeavors with her resilience, she entered therapy to heal and develop a sense of peace and purpose amidst her trauma.
“Through therapy, and the hard work that came with it, I discovered this magical place that’s on the other side of trauma,” Shandi said. “Through this new clarity, I now know my purpose is to help other people to get to that place.”
Freewell is committed to fostering an environment where human trafficking is “not someone else’s problem.” Freewell’s Instagram account regularly shares posts from Shandi about her experience of trauma in addition to words of encouragement to survivors. Freewell also posts statitstics about human trafficking including the 10,583 reported cases in 2020 alone in addition to support resources for survivors to explore.
In 2020, Shandi hiked up Mt. Elbert to 14,000 feet, the second tallest mountain in the United States, with Freedom Hikers. All of her fundraised money went to support survivors of human trafficking. The hike allowed Shandi to combine Freewell’s values of exercise and fitness with their mission to help others thrive.
“We are so proud to support all of those who are survivors trying to get back on their feet; just now coming to terms with what happened to them and most of all showing that we can make a difference,” Shandi said. “We can thrive, not just survive, and together we can end sexual violence for good.”
In addition to creating awareness, Freewell financially supports human trafficking survivors by donating some of their revenue to homes that protect and advocate for survivors who are recovering from bondage. In the month of January, Freewell donated 10% of their sales to human trafficking survivors. After human trafficking awareness month, Freewell decided to continue offering 3% of their sales to help survivors “take stand [and] regain their confidence and freedom.”
Magdalene House and Nicole’s Place are two homes in Austin, TX that Freewell continually supports by donating a portion of their Power Gloss sales and putting on events where 100% of ticket sales. Shandi’s team who hiked up Mt. Elbert also raised $20,000.
Starting in January 2022, Freewell started Powergloss Powerchats with human trafficking survivors to put faces and experiences to the human trafficking tragedies. Tiffany Lee was the first to chat with Shandi for the series and they had a powerful conversation that set the tone for future episodes.
The Salt and Light Coalition in Chicago is an organization based in Chicago that supports survivors by empowering and mobilizing them. Freewell regularly donates to the Salt and Light Coalition and Shandi works as a business mentor there to teach survivors about entrepreneurship and give them hope for their futures.
Follow Freewell on Instagram and sign up for their newsletter for more information on their educational efforts as well as ways you can get involved with the fight against human trafficking.
WRITTEN BY: Elizabeth Bulat, Collegiate Athlete & Student at Northwestern University