I met the ever smiling Jessica Hendricks back in 2012 at a Tory Burch event for a book signing of Pioneers of the Possible by Angella Nazarian. We quickly connected over our admiration for strong powerful women and she casually mentioned that she had this little jewelry line that she had just launched called The Brave Collection. Three years later Jessica has become an inspiration for so many. She has created tremendous awareness for sexual trafficking of women in Cambodia (and beyond), plus she has empowered women through her elegantly crafted products. Her bracelet has been to the White House and to Vogue and touching the lives of many. Jessica is a force to be reckoned with and one of the bravest ladies I know.
1. The Brave Collection has such a beautiful story behind it, can you tell me how your first trip to Cambodia changed your life?
My first trip to Cambodia was during the summer after my Sophomore year of college at NYU. I went to Thailand for the summer to teach English and fell in love with the serene Buddhist culture and warmth of the people. I decided to extend my trip to see the famous temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia – the largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat is an ancient city of Temples. I was awed by the majestic history of this deeply rich culture, and horrified to learn that in the genocide in the 1970s, 90% of the artisan population was killed. It seemed impossible that such a deep culture could be so destroyed and I became passionate about finding a way to collaborate with the artisans of Cambodia today.
2. You’ve been an entrepreneur since early on, do you ever wish you had gone down the corporate path? If not, what have been the most valuable learning tools working for yourself?
Yes, I definitely find myself fantasizing sometimes about what it might have been like to go down a more corporate path – sometimes I really crave the structure and normalcy of that type of career. But at the end of the day I’m an outside the box kind of person, and I thrive in environments that are off the beaten path. I think the most valuable tools I have learned are perseverance and patience – it takes an incredible amount of difficult, tedious work to create something from nothing and I am proud to have continued to stick with it through the ups and downs.
3. Your instagram blows me away! Your product has been featured in Vogue, Refinery 29, on the Tory Burch Foundation website, at the White House, etc. Do you have one particular moment where you felt like you had made it?
Every time we get a piece of press it’s very exciting, it’s such an honor to be able to share our story with new audiences! Seeing our bracelet on Kendall Jenner’s wrist on a glossy page in Vogue was definitely an incredible moment. It was wild for me to think of the journey of that little bracelet – from a workshop in Cambodia to the wrist of a world famous supermodel!
4. PR and influencers are an integral part of growing any brand and creating awareness. Can you share a little insight on the best techniques for getting your brand noticed by the right people?
What I’ve learned is that it’s all about a genuine connection. Don’t waste your time trying to get in front of people with large followings if the connection isn’t there, and don’t dismiss the power of a small voice with an authentic passion for what you are doing.
5. What does the future hold for the Brave Collection?
I’ve been really blown away by the celebration of courage I have seen stateside by our customers who gift Brave Bracelets to one another. In 2016 I’m looking forward to spotlighting some amazing women, and sharing stories of courage.