When Nikkie Affholter was a fashion photographer, she worked with several models who would share their experiences about exploitation within the industry.
“I learned a lot about human trafficking that way and how my perception of it mostly happening overseas, not close to home, but in reality, it actually comes in various forms,” says Affholter. “So, I started diving into educating myself and I worked with a lot of nonprofits volunteering, and it really connected the dots. I saw the need to overcoming a lot of these issues was employment.”
In 2020 Affholter founded Tirza Design, a handmade-jewelry brand that also sells other accessories, clothing, and home goods. Through her small business, Affholter hires survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence and teaches them how to make the brand’s jewelry, while also offering job skill training in other trades.
On May 14, Affholter is taking Tirza Design brick and mortar with a shop on the Country Club Plaza that formerly housed Kate Spade New York.
The store will feature Tirza Design’s survivor-made jewelry, plus other lifestyle brands and products created by women business owners—most of whom are survivors. The new shop will also offer a consignment section and will be accepting donations of gently used clothing.
“I want to create a revolving door of empowerment for the women I hire and have pop-ups to showcase other local women entrepreneurs because having the ability to provide for yourself is the greatest empowerment,” says Affholter. “You can combat trafficking by shopping small, and every purchase in our store is creating employment for women.”
Tirza Design’s grand opening is May 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 321 Nichols Road. Shoppers are invited to attend and will be met with several local pop-ups, rose lemonade, and a gift of earrings with a $50 purchase.