Freeleaf Limited Interview Blog

How Freeleaf Limited is Changing the Lives of Abuse and Exploitation Survivors with Ethical Home Decor & Accessories


Based out of Austin, Texas, Freeleaf Limited is creating home decor,  jewelry, and accessories to better the lives of abuse and exploitation survivors. We interviewed Freeleaf Limited to get a behind-the-scenes look at their social enterprise and how they are making a difference. 


You can follow Freeleaf Limited on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @Freeleafltd & you can shop their products here! Use code DAFERO for 20% off your order! 



What is Freeleaf Limited’s social mission?

Our mission is to empower women out of abuse and exploitation, creating a world where women are {k}not for sale. Freeleaf strives to bring unique and beautiful home decor and jewelry to market, but we are about so much more than pretty products. Our holistic care programs are in place to ensure the physical, mental, and emotional health and safety of each of our staff. We are honored to walk with these strong women as they overcome past trauma and work toward a brighter future.


What makes your products special?

In addition to being handmade by survivors of abuse and exploitation, each Freeleaf product pays homage to the rich heritage of the ancient Chinese knot. Our mission is to work toward a world where women are {k}not for sale, and we make sure that is visually represented in each one of our items. Our collection consists of home decor pieces utilizing beautiful natural fibers, and bright  jewelry items like statement earrings, knotted bracelets, & colorful necklaces. 


When was your social enterprise started?

Freeleaf became an established company in November 2018, but our founder worked for several years prior cultivating ideas, making local connections, and testing out prototypes.


Why was your social enterprise started?

Once we understood that the root of so much abuse and exploitation was economic, we realized that there was a way that we could tangibly help. Instead of a charity model which can be unsustainable, a social enterprise model seemed like an incredible option to sustain employment and resources for our staff long term.


How was Freeleaf Limited started?

In the words of Adysyn, the founder, “I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Being a natural introvert, a cautious decision-maker, and a lover of simplicity, I always assumed I wouldn’t make a very good front-person or leader. But I have always been a rooter for the underdog. In college, I studied International Studies & French and envisioned myself moving to French-speaking Africa to work in community development. But when I graduated in 2011 and applied to work for non-profits and social enterprises, nobody would hire me because I didn’t have any overseas experience! Crushed, I decided to spend a gap-year in Asia learning Mandarin and volunteering before I planned to go to grad school. Seven years later and here I still am.

 

A few years ago, I met a local Chinese woman named JiaYi (her introduction can be found at https://bit.ly/2tLMHpV). We realized that we both had a passion for women-in-need in the city, and slowly began talking to at-risk, abused, and exploited women to gather more information about what their needs were. It didn’t take long to realize that the root of so much abuse and exploitation was economic. When women are poor and lack educational or economic opportunities, they often find themselves vulnerable to abuse and/or exploitation. Slowly, we realized that if we wanted to create a safe space for women to heal in a sustainable and substantial way, we didn’t need to create some non-profit or charity program—we needed to create a business. So Freeleaf was born in June 2016.”


What other social enterprises do you admire?

  • Outland Denim - for their high-quality product and incredible business strength.
  • Sseko designs - for their unique design and widespread impact through their global community.

Who are your biggest influences?

Our biggest influences have always been the staff who we employ. We have so much to learn from their determination, strength, and perseverance. We are truly all learning from each other as we navigate every step of this crazy journey together!


What is a recent exciting success of Freeleaf Limited?

After witnessing the impacts of COVID-19 first hand at our Asia headquarters, our team took it upon themselves to raise funds in order to donate 11,000 masks to the US when we were in desperate need. Seeing our Asia staff (many who are poor & struggling themselves) come together to gather funds in order to care for their customers and team in the US really showed us how our business is mutually empowering for all involved. This gesture was such beautiful evidence that together we can be so much more resilient than we could be alone as we all walk through this COVID-19 crisis.


What is the best advice you have ever received?

  • Don’t go at it alone - find a local partner who is reliable and committed. Our company never would have survived without our local COO JiaYi who runs all operations in Asia. 
  • “You can do hard things” - this is a great reminder that we are capable of succeeding for ourselves and our team, even when things feel overwhelming or too challenging. This work and these days are HARD, but that we are capable of leaning in, and doing hard things.


What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own social enterprise?

Know what you stand for, and what impact you want to achieve. Then, keep your eyes on that goal with every facet of the business. Always be ready to adjust and pivot quickly, and be ready and willing to learn every step of the way.


Where do you sell your products?

Currently, we sell direct to consumers on our website and are in a variety of small boutiques nationwide. We also love to participate in pop up shops and markets to meet other small business owners and chat with our customers one-on-one.


If you are interested in ethical home decor or ethical jewelry please check out Freeleaf Limited’s website to shop their products! While you’re there use discount code DAFERO for 20% off your order. When purchasing their products you are helping to create a world where women are knot for sale. 


If you are interested in donating with Freeleaf Limited, when in the checkout section of their website you can add a “tip.” The tips are collected and donated to predetermined charities/organizations/non-profits each month. Also, don’t forget to follow them on social media @Freeleafltd