PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — Two women that were once victims but now survivors are on a mission to change lives one handbag at a time; it’s fashion fueled by a passion.
“One day I woke up and just said, ‘That's it. I've had enough. Why am I carrying the shame around? Why am I carrying this embarrassment? I'm not doing it anymore,’” Karen Hansen said.
Hansen, along with her best friend and business partner, Laura Rachlin, are the masterminds behind Wren & Roch, a line of handbags and accessories they launched last October.
“We thought how can we take what we love and do something really meaningful with it,” Hansen said. “The mission of Wren & Roch is to empower victims and survivors of rape, domestic violence and childhood sexual assault.”
It’s a mission that hits close to home for both of them.
“We are both college campus rape survivors. Mine resulted in pregnancy and the birth of my daughter," Hansen said. "We were both victims of domestic violence in our marriages and my daughter was sexually assaulted at the age of 12."
With each handbag sold, the women donate a portion of the money to local nonprofits that share their mission of raising awareness about sexual assault, eliminating stigmas and educating others in hopes of preventing abuse.
“We started sharing our story and realized the impact our voices had and how it was affecting other victims and survivors so we thought, we can't stop doing this, we literally need to take this show on the road,” Rachlin said.
The women now speak at college campuses across the state to help educate students about the dangers of sexual violence.
“I feel like my voice is making a difference and it is helping to heal other women,” Rachlin said.
Wren & Roch handbags are sold online and at truck shows across South Florida.
In each bag, you’ll also find five “Carry Your Courage” cards that you can give to someone if they stop to compliment your bag.
Hansen and Rachlin say it’s a way to spread their message of empowering victims and survivors while encouraging others to take a stand against abuse and to carry their courage.
Author: Kara Duffy