Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Melissa and Lisa, two founders of Influencers ACT. Which stands for Influencers Against Child Trafficking . As you guys will hear in the interview, they are a group of influencers who decided to join together and take a stand against Child Trafficking and it has turned into something so much bigger.
This year has obviously brought to light a lot of social issues and I knew I wanted to do a podcast episode about this topic. After the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movement I had a lot of influencers ask me what they should be doing, or the right way to talk about these touchy but important subjects.
I took a hard stance before most and that there is a time and a place for everything, and right then it was time to pause sponsored content and start talking about the social issues on our platforms.
I have always believed that influencers have the power to, and will change the world for the better. When I came across the Influencers Act account and saw how they had rallied together to use their cumulative platforms to create an even more significant message, I knew I needed to have them on.
About Influencers ACT
While we grew up in different parts of the country we are both southern girls who hold family and faith at the core of who we are and who absolutely cherish being a Mom. These things really became the basis of our friendship when we met over 5 years ago through a local Mom group & mutual friends. In the last couple years especially we have grown incredibly close and our children have as well. This is great because now the kids have play dates and us Moms have wine dates haha.
Lisa Marie has a background in fashion design and styling and did both in LA for years though she no longer works in the industry. Melissa began doing fashion posting and blogging a couple years ago & has gained a large instagram following covering lots of topics but with fashion being a central component. Our joint “passion for fashion” as cheesy as that sounds was something else we bonded over. Melissa had already developed a strong presence long before Lisa Marie really understood what Instagram was all about. She 100% got Lisa Marie into the instagram and influencer stuff. It has been a really fun way to take a joint hobby and creative outlet and do something with it together.
As far as @Influencers_ACT, Influencers Against Child Trafficking, it started as a conversation, then campaign and now hopefully a non profit. Melissa, Lisa Marie, and 17 other influencers were in a group chat on Instagram talking about all the awful things going on right now. Everyone kept sharing articles and videos to watch and child trafficking quickly took over the conversation. After reading and watching all these videos from Operation Toussaint to the Epstein documentary we were all left feeling a bit depressed and overwhelmed.
But most of all, we felt horrified & angry that all these other topics were getting so much talk time and so few people were talking about the crisis that we believe is the most pressing and should upset everyone equally, protecting our kids. They are the greatest resource the world has the greatest gift from God, yet so many of them are at risk or already suffering unimaginable horrors.
We think God was working though us here. All of a sudden we both seemed to have this rush of ideas and emotions and a huge sense of urgency. LM works full time from home right now and Melissa is super busy chasing after her young 3 kids all day so time can be hard to find. Between kids and conference calls Mel and LM got on the phone (while Mel is jogging in her neighborhood none the less…and we decided “hey…we can do something with this…what if we raise $ with shirts or something for O.U.R” We tossed the idea out to the group and they loved it. One of the girls sister is a graphic designer so she made a couple mock ups of the ideas that we had. Then literally we started texting and calling each other at the same time about an hour later because we realized we needed a name for our group to help pull this off. LM started playing with acronyms and sending them through the chat and all of the sudden it was obvious to everyone what it should be. We are influencers taking “action” and asking others to do the same. Thus the group and the name were formed. Melissa and Lisa Marie set about creating an Instagram, a FB page/group and an email for the group. Literally our original goal was to sell 50 shirts, we sold 1470 shirts, with additional donations, totaling $23,933!
Melissa has some very personal experiences that were weighing on her during this time and is at the core to why she started in crisis counseling years ago. One day Lisa Marie brought her kids over to play and we were talking and Mel told LM a little about the experiences.. She also shared that she was thinking we need to do even more. We should create a nonprofit. LM was touched by her story and her idea and said let’s definitely talk to someone that knows more about what it involves and do some research. However, LM ended up texting her within 24 hours saying “I’m in lets do it” having NO idea what we were in for. Mel, did her research and applied for Non Profit status and is working to have our platform trademarked! We have three founding non profit members, Melissa, Lisa Marie, and Jennie Beth. We are working on a tier of influencers nationwide, keeping our current group of influencers, but also wanting to recruit more so we can continue building campaigns, raising more funds, spreading awareness, working with different organizations and task forces nationally, and becoming a true force in our fight to end Trafficking.
Melissa, @luxewithgrace, is a Texas born and raised wife and mom of 3! Her faith and love of fashion & authentic Luxury, are what brought her to instagram originally. She graduated from Texas Tech University in 2004, with an undergrad degree in psychology with a focus on relationship and crisis counseling. While in college she volunteered her time with the local rape crisis center. After college, she married her husband in 2005, and continued in her efforts to work with those in crisis. Taking time away from work, she focused on building a Homelife and a family, but all the while as a Mom, she still felt the need and a call to do more. Once finding her platform on instagram and meeting other like minded influencers, she realized now is her time to act and bring awareness and light to the horrendous act of Child and Human Trafficking. Having past personal struggles herself, she knew what it felt like and wanted to do more to help the victims, raise funds, and fight to end Trafficking.
Lisa Marie, @lisasassygirl, was born and raised in the south growing up mostly in the panhandle of FL near the AL border. I went to a Catholic school for 13 years & before marrying my Mom my father considered being a priest so faith was a pivotal part of my upbringing. I am a graduate of Florida State University (go NOLES!) with a degree in fashion marketing and merchandising. I spent a handful of years doing design and styling in LA, CA before leaving the industry. I loved the creative side of the fashion industry but felt the overall mentality and pressures of it didn’t align well with my core values. I ended up getting in to Medical sales and am currently rep & patient advocate for a large oncology company. I relocated to Austin TX where I met my wonderful husband Chris in 2011. We married 2 years later and now are blessed with two highly spirited and loving 5 year old twins, Beau and Brynlee.
Links Mentioned on the Show
Influencers ACT Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/influencers_act
O.U.R Rescue: https://ourrescue.org/
Operation Toussaint: https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Toussaint-Tim-Ballard/dp/B07M62QTS3
Melissa’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/luxewithgrace
Lisas Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisasassygirl
Complete Episode Transcript:
Hey there, welcome to The Daily influencers podcast. My name is Erica Maire Daily, former marketer and brand manager, turned your influencer marketing coach. On this podcast we help both influencers and brands, maximize their collaboration, grow on social media make more money and waste less time. Speaking of which, let’s jump right into today’s episode.
Today I have the absolute pleasure of interviewing Melissa and Lisa, the two founders of Influencers Act, which stands for influencers against child trafficking. And as you guys will hear in the interview, they are a group of influencers who decided to join together and take a stand against child trafficking. And it has since turned into something so much bigger which is so exciting. Now this year is obviously brought to
A lot of social issues and I knew I wanted to do a podcast episode about this topic. And after the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, I had a lot of influencers coming to me and asking what they should be doing, or the right way to talk about these touchy but very important subjects. And I really took the hard stance before most at the time. And that is that there’s a time and a place for everything and right then it was time to pause, sponsored content, and start talking about the social issues on our platforms. And I’ve always believed that influencers have the power to Anwyl change the world for the better. And so when I came across influencers act and saw how they had rallied together to use their cumulative platforms to create an even more significant message, I knew I needed to have them on. So I will let them explain their story. But I wanted to point out that I will be including all of their information in the show notes and also on the episodes notes that goes on our website. So without further ado, let’s
Meet Lisa and Melissa.
Hi, thank you so much for having us. We are super excited. And I’m Melissa. I started out on my platform Lux with grace. And my best friend Lisa Marie, they put that the girl on Instagram.
We both are just moms who found each other through local friend. And our kids are kind of the same age won’t play together. And then we kind of grew this platform influencers against child trafficking, by both of our mama bear instincts. Yeah, so much negativity going on in the world right now. And I think it’s, we were on a chat group with a lot of other influencers talking about it and a lot of videos and articles about the child trafficking campaign chaired. And it just it very quickly took over the focus of the conversation. And I think we just both thought call kind of almost at the same time, it was really crazy how it all happened.
that we needed to do something bigger to help that we just couldn’t sit back and be quiet. And this is the one issue that no matter what the country is facing, and how divided we are, it should be one topic that should unite everyone, like everyone should care about political, it’s not female base, it’s not male base. It’s an overall human issue. It should set your soul on fire and make you scream from your core to make a change. And when we found this group that felt the same way. It just kind of the ball rolled and we just kind of went with it and ran and before we knew it, it turned into something bigger than any of us dreamed it would become. Yeah, I love that, as you guys are saying that I literally got goosebumps. And I can only imagine what it’s like to be a parent. I know when I first you know, I didn’t really know about child trafficking until this year when people really start talking about it and I had no idea how big it was. And the first thing that I thought of was just thinking about my nephew.
And like, you know, obviously I love him so much, but I’m not his mom. And so I can just imagine if I had kids right now like how it would feel just thinking about something like that happening to them. So absolutely love what you guys are doing. And so you guys actually met through social media Did you say no. So Lisa Marie and I, we live in the same town, and we had mutual mom friends, and we connected about five or so years ago and it’s just like an instant connection between the two of us. We have very, very similar backgrounds and say, our love of fashion and obviously love that our kids again the same age so we just kind of just clicked in over time became best friends. And
Melissa actually got me into social media influencer thing. I have fashion background from college and after college, working in the fashion industry in LA, but I had left that all behind looking in pharmaceuticals and really barely understood Instagram and all this stuff.
gotten really involved and had a huge platform already? I’m sure like, no, you’re so into the stock, you should do something with it. And so it started off as a hobby and kind of now it’s turned into. Yeah. Because really, though, I love that. My mom’s the same way. She’s so cute, like, I still steal her clothes. And I was like, you gotta do this. And so she’ll still call me like, how do I upload this to my story again, it’s so cute, but I love it so much. Okay, so now can you guys tell us a little bit more about influencers act and how you guys really came up with the idea what it’s evolved to right now. So, um,
basically, again, hi, Lisa Marie had said that we were in a chat group with a bunch of other influencers and the great thing about the group that we have is our core founding influencers is they’re not all just moms like you said, You’re an aunt. There’s some that are, you know, just there’s dance, there’s some with no kids in our life at all, but again, they felt this drive and need
Make a difference. And we each started doing our research and finding out the statistics because we, when we wanted to put this out there, we learned to come out with facts. We didn’t just want to come out, you know, being another influencer of Oh, we’re putting this on our platform, but we really don’t have any information for you. So we all did our research before we really came forth with our page. And we started with just a campaign it kind of just one day, at least Maria and I were talking and a couple of the other girls and it was just like, we should sell shirts. Let’s come up with this design scheme. And so it turned out that one of the girls in the group had a sister that was a graphic designer, and we just kind of all throw ideas at her on the original design with the hands and the heart and the baby. And we were like, this is cool. Let’s sell let’s put a goal of 50 shirts and see what happens. And lo and behold, we sold way above value, almost 1500 shirts, plus thousands and donations to come in. Right under
$24,000 to operation Underground Railroad. And the funny thing is so with Lisa Marie and I kind of on the same wavelength at all times, and I do my best thinking while on my run, she was like calling me. And I would be thinking about similar run and she started bouncing off the acronyms as the name that’s how we came up with the name of the influencers that because she was thinking through all influencers against child trafficking via so genius that thinking of like cute little ways of putting things in an easy way to remember. And so that’s how influencers that came about. And we just kind of jumped on it. And it was funny, because so we I called her and I was like, hey, do you think we should do something like, could we sell somebody and she’s like, yeah, maybe we could do like shirts or something. I was like, Okay, cool. And then we hung up. I had another conference call to get on and she was managing kids that were trying to finish up, you know, online school and then a few minutes later, I one of us
Call her started texting the other one. And then like I said, or like she said, she called back when she was on a run. And we were like, We both at the same second. We’re literally like, we’re gonna need a group. And so that’s how we decided, Okay, we’re going to do sell shirts, we’re gonna have a group. So then it was like, okay, what’s the name? And then we hung up. And about an hour later, after she gets out the shower. She’s calling me and she’s like, Hey, I just set up an email for us. And I was like, oh, okay, cool. I just did the same thing. And she was like, influencers act and I was at gmail, and I was like, Oh, my gosh, okay, no wonder it was taken. I couldn’t figure out why I had to do influencers act one. I was like, Who the heck has my like this as their Gmail, you know, so from there, we were like, okay, I take the Instagram side, you take the Facebook side, because we were caught. We’re just like, both, like, same brainwave doing the exact same thing and counteracting each other’s work, to where it was just like, okay, let’s figure out this and make it you know, two separate, not two separate platforms, but to social media platforms, if that makes sense. So that’s how so we came up with that.
influencers act on Instagram. And then she started the influence exact on Facebook. And both have grown amazingly. And it’s been so awesome to see the 17 other influencers that were part of that chat all participate. And so in the first campaign Yeah, so from the time that we’ve launched that T shirt sale to now we would everybody was reposting in whatever ways they wanted. And certain people, you know, oh, my husband’s a great graphic designer. So he put together something and we’d all post it. So we just kind of had a constant stream of awareness as well as the T shirt. And with each of the implementers. You know, there was a few fashion that was a few mommies, there was a few home decor. So it was just like an overall array of an outreach to so many different levels of platforms. And that was what was really cool because then once we put that out, reach out there more and more influencers wanted to help. We have an ongoing list for future campaigns.
And once I am, I filed for a nonprofit a few weeks ago, because we have the idea to take this much bigger scale, we want to reach out to more organizations do more local fundraising. So our kind of a plan is to take once we’re officially a nonprofit, to make like a tier of influencers, where we’ll have regional statewide local citywide as many as we can get out there. That’s that’s what we want is just to keep pushing forward and keep the ball rolling in the momentum and doing as much as we can. I love that. And it’s so cool to see that it just kind of started as this like, random idea almost. And then it grew into something so huge, where literally, I mean, like your acronym, all of these other influencers want to help and you know, make a change and act on you know, doing that. And that’s something that I’ve always loved when I got into the whole world of influencers was just the power that we
Have to really make a change in the world. And I know there’s so many people out there that still, you know, want to say weird things about influencers, but I work with them every day. And so many of them have such a heart for using their platforms for good. And so that’s something that I really love. So I want to get into our next question. So it looks like you guys really have rallied with the organization, our rescue, and I’m a huge supporter of them, as well. And so can you guys kind of tell the listeners a bit more about that organization and why you guys became an ally for them. So um, each of us had kind of
already either were following operation underground railroad or it heard about it.
They are an organization that was in the very forefront of the media as far as smell trafficking. So it was kind of one that was
already well known enough. So we knew that that would be a credible source.
Other than that, the work that they have done Tim Ballard, who founded it,
He started out in CIA and homeland security. And when he was asked to be a part of the trafficking unit, it weighed heavily on a soul as a father. And the first time he rescued a child, it was ground breaking and earth shattering for him and he decided then he wanted to do more be able to reach more children more survivors. And by working with just Homeland Security, he was face to the USA he could not you know, outside the borders he couldn’t have. So over time he found this team of Navy SEALs army with the other
types of like military SWAT team I love they’re trained yet individuals that volunteer time or totally left their, their their rares Yeah, that’s and that was what with listening to him speaking, and then when he would go, he went to like, way higher up.
As money is concerned, you know, multimillionaires to try and get you know, some funding. And I’m from watching operation to SOT give me time it kind of shows that background operation and how it started with the funding for his organization and where the money was gonna go. And so knowing all that in his heart for this organization and a proven track record of the survivors they rescued, which just recently they rescue their 4000 4001 survivor, which was just, I mean, astounding work. And it’s not
just faith in America. It’s all over the world that he can, you know, do these missions in their team to these missions. But at the core of it,
Americans are the number one consumer of child pornography, child trafficking. And it just
don’t just finger
Organization has done so much good. And I think it was just kind of like that’d be a story I’ll start off with Yeah, I think people to Moses point get a little bit um, some people don’t like that they do missions abroad but again, it’s because we in we literally import more traffic individuals in the United States and anywhere else like we created we may come from another country but it’s it’s our country creating demand and that’s where we again just keep on pressing the fact that it’s it’s not political it’s not country it is a human overall worldwide issue and it’s a staggering statistics mean over 100 and $50 million industry it’s second to narcotics and that is just unfathomable that that happens. And that’s what a lot of people you know, the media closes out the conversation. They don’t I mean, why is this not on the forefront of everything
new story. And we’ve called up the media many influencers have been calling out media. And I called out one on our influencers back page. And literally, she just put a link to a little blip in their news article about trafficking from like back in April, how, which it is true. The trafficking and online presence ever since COVID, has become much higher rated issue 200% growth in reports. These are just the ones that are reported, like child sex assault reports online, because the kids are all at home on their tablets, because they’re not in school. They’ve been ripped from their safety net and structure. And so are they out of work pedophiles? And so and risk is even greater than it’s really ever been. And what a lot of people also don’t think about is these children are being trafficked by their own family members. And that’s what’s really scary ever since COVID their home
With these people who are hurting them, and it’s just
crazy to think that and the 4000 survivor, which was actually an 11 year old little girl who was trafficked by her stepfather and her sister’s boyfriend, and granted that was in Colombia, but then like more recently, like a rescue for about 17 kids all at one time, and the 4001 4017 victims were here in the United States, a little boy named Jackson. And literally, it was a popular school teacher. Wow, that was involved. So while half the missions are abroad, and half the missions are here, people do need to realize that it it’s not all far away. It is in our backyard, and it’s in our local school. It is on our kids computers. And so I think that’s kind of where most and I, you know, feel really strongly about doing the nonprofit because education is a huge part of it. It is raising money to help the current missions and things but it’s also
What do parents need to know about keeping their kids safe online? What kind of conversations? Can parents need to have a kid? What kind of resources can we put out? If we go to schools or other organizations and talk about it? Like what does that need to look like? And I think we can do a better job of bringing down these numbers. I need to have 101 point 2 million people traffic every year. The estimate is somewhere between it’s hard to get exact numbers an estimated 20 20 million 40 million people in modern day sex slavery, but that’s asinine and we should all be disgusted and fired up and angry. I mean, I can’t I can’t tell you how many nights since this has all started but I’ve like, choked up, tucking my kids into bed because I just look at their major little innocence that I I can’t even fathom somebody’s doing to them. What is being done to these kids? We’re meeting last night going over, you know, what we’re going to talk about today with you and it sets we each start choking up
Just the conversation of the grotesque vile ways these children are used, sodomized, raped, beaten, shackled, broken bones, and just the ages if
a child is under 18, it can be a six month old baby as horrendous as that is, but even a 17 year old child, it’s it’s
on every level of humanity, evil and wrong. And it’s just
yeah, as a mom, as a woman, as a person as a human. It’s just, Oh, yeah. Clearly we get fired up, and we talk about it. Totally. And I’m the same way. And, you know, to some points you guys said earlier, the fact that the media isn’t talking about it drives me crazy, which is why I think it’s so important that you guys have started this thing, like really encouraging people to step up and start talking about it using their platforms. That’s something that I’ve
helped, you know, any influencers to ask me, like, just talk about it? And so that kind of leads me into the next question. Do you guys think that influencers are really anyone with a platform has an obligation to talk about human rights issues and other world issues? Yes, to a certain extent. And if you do your research, you’re educated on the subject, truly feel that you have a voice to speak true. And you have a heart and a passion for it, then yes, if you are just,
I don’t wanna say that anybody should not use our platform, because we are, you know, that that’s what we’re doing. It’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech, etc. But to bring truth and not just spread false information is different. But anybody if they have a passion for something, yes, speak out. And even if you don’t exactly have the statistics or the facts, acknowledge that and say, I’m putting this out there. I want to make you aware it’s happening. Let’s all do our reading.
Search and get our ideas out there. Yeah, share what’s on your heart and ask people to share with you what they know. And most importantly, we all did a lot of personal education before we dove into this. And even then there’s people that are going to disagree or get upset, we’re taking the wrong way. But at least if you know you’ve done your homework, and you’re presenting as much factual information as possible, obviously put the emotion behind it, because that’s what draws people in, right, but have what you’re actually presenting the factual, then I, how can you really go wrong, you know? Yeah, that’s so true. And that’s something that I didn’t even think about when I was writing these questions. But I definitely think it’s important to do your research and kind of like you guys said, if they don’t know somewhere to go, they can go to your page, because you guys have done that research. You have those resources, and at least they can start sharing, you know, your guys’s posts, and then as they learn more and really educate themselves, they can start sharing their own stuff or their own feelings about it. And I think that’s always been something that I’ve told people is
If you don’t know the right thing to say, just kind of say what feels right to you, and you can’t really go wrong. Exactly. Yeah. So that leads me into my next question and kind of what I was just saying, I get a lot of questions from influencers that didn’t know what to do and really what to say kind of when like the black lives matter really started happening. Do you guys have any advice for people who aren’t sure what to do or how to share when they’re just getting started, which we kind of talked about but if you have any other advice, I’d love to hear that. I’m so to what we were just talking about. Definitely. Do your research get educated specifically with the Black Lives Matter movement. I chose personally to take the muted and listening stance and I tried my best to listen to the voices that were explaining a lot of things about what the movement meant not just what the media was putting out there because that’s what is so frustrating is when you’re getting filled with all this Saturday information in so much of its it is
wrong or untrue? It depends on what news station you’re watching, you know, it becomes political and things like this shouldn’t be political it is everything is comes down to being a human issue. So for me personally, um, I didn’t mute myself as a lot of other influencers did. I still talked about it in my stories from people that were talking to me, does that make sense? I didn’t come forthright out one way or another speaking against anybody. Because I didn’t feel that was my place. I didn’t know enough information. But at least Marie had a different experience with it. Yeah. So I have an African American uncle and cousin and my cousin’s now gone on to start his own family and has two beautiful little boys.
And I reached out to my cousin and just I said, help me understand. I get like, I’m a middle class white woman. And so I can’t say that on a regular basis. I observe these things, but like, what can I do? What are you really experiencing
When was the last time you experienced these things? Like how can I help? And so, you know, we had some heart to hearts about it. And ultimately, I asked he and his wife’s permission, and I posted a picture of their family, um, his eautiful wife and him and the two boys hanging upside down both under three, you know, through the family portrait. And I basically just have look at these faces. You know, my cousin does not look at the beautiful family my cousin’s created, you know, is he is not a threat, kids are not a threat. And I, I kind of tried to take a soft approach, and I said,
You know, I hope that someday when they’re new drivers and really excited and get pulled over for going a little bit over the speed limit, that they’re more afraid of the wrath of their parents when they get home and the police officer, you know, walking up to their door. But then I also chose to say that I know a lot of great police officers and I’m not, I’m not taking a stance against them as a whole by any
means and that if they are an officer or personnel who defends everybody equally, then I stand with them as well. And so I chose to end it with black lives matter, and all lives matter. And I got pushback from people about it. And so my advice on that is, we’re all doing the best we can, there’s going to be times when we misunderstand, or maybe even don’t agree with whatever the opinions are. Okay. And that’s okay. Um, my biggest thing is, I tried to take all the conversations on a sidebar, if it was a follower, I wasn’t going to engage in a combative conversation, I probably would just, I hear you, thanks for sharing. Let it be. If it was a friend, then I reached out and tried to take as many of the conversations, I’m really into conversations and not just text and type so that you can get inflection and sympathy and the thing you know, to keep it where it needed to be, I don’t think I don’t think having aggressive behavior on a platform does any cause
row. So that’s kind of my best advice on it is, speak your truth but be willing to be silent or be okay if people disagree and don’t feel like you have to fight back. And with both issues, to kind of play on what you were saying, with the Black Lives Matter, one of the most heartbreaking things for me again as a mom was hearing the fact that like you were saying your nephews, you don’t want them driving later and in fearing the cops.
As again, as a white woman, I I will not ever know that fear to me, my instinct would be run to the police officers. I can’t imagine having that instinct to flee from a police officer. It’s heartbreaking. And again, that’s where it takes it into a human issue, not political. I will again never understand it, personally, but I feel for it. As as heartbreaking in humanity can be it’s funny because my answer
Who’s obviously Wait, it’s her husband that is African American. And she called me during all this and she said, You know, it’s it’s the mama bears that are going to change this. It’s the mom to mom heart that is going to get attention with all of these issues because we can sympathize and see things in a way that even the greatest loving God doesn’t quite have the same capacity for I guess. And so it applies to both topics, really. And it kind of came down to there was a conversation about why moms were called to it and bringing it to George Boyd specifically, he called out Mama, what mama wouldn’t instantly hear that and come to her knees and pain. So, regardless of how you had felt about the movement before, um, I’ve been asked that like, why was it George Floyd that you know, made this such an IT, I think it was just the tip of the iceberg. And regardless of your color, your status in life
It just it moved everybody and it brought people to tears into their knees to want change. And back to human trafficking. We are hoping to do that same thing. We need influencers help, we need the media’s attention. People should be brought to their knees and pain in anger, and just crying out for help for these children who can’t cry out, they are screaming out and nobody is listening. In that’s it’s just torturous to your soul and into anybody who can possibly have feeling there’s these traffickers are evil, they’re predators. They’re criminals. They’re deviant. And they need to be stopped and put behind bars and back to our rescue. They have put so many traffickers behind bars. The fact that again, I go back to that operation to saw the documentary that was based on them. That operation was in Haiti, and they had already done
mission where they rescued, I believe it was like 17 young girls, and the traffickers were behind bars. Well, one of the higher ups in the trafficking ring paid off, all the judges paid off the police officers, and they were released instantly. And the girls were released back into their custody. Well, Tim Ballard didn’t stand for that. And he funded another mission, reached out to all the top politicians of Haiti to make sure they knew what was going on. And to assure that they were going to go back, do this mission, again, re arrest all these top traffickers and rescue these girls again. And that’s exactly what they did in this time. It’s stuck because they got the corruptness of the system. And that’s where it’s just it’s incredible the work they’re doing. They’re changing the corrupt systems as well as rescuing these children. Yeah, and that was a great documentary. I watched that as well. So I’ll be sure to put that in the show notes for everyone to watch. But it’s just crazy to think that anyone would want to let these people out and I know it’s even happening here.
Just actually heard something that only like 3% of sex offenders are actually on the sex offender list, which just blows my mind because you would have no idea it could be your next door neighbor. And you know, they might seem like a regular person. Yeah, you would think those lists are being heavily monitored as well. In there to certain extent if the if the offender is doing the right thing, but what offender who’s actually like, because there’s a difference, and you know that there’s different offenses as far as sex offenders go, I’m not saying any of It’s okay. You do something wrong, you’re on the list. But a person who is a repeat offender and gets released and released, they’re going to keep breaking the law. They’re going to keep breaking the system and finding a way to these children. And that is where that needs to be put to an end. the justice system needs to change. a pedophile should not just get a few months in prison. It should be life. Yeah, I won’t go into death penalty as a Christian
That is not my place. You know, I know everybody has their views on death penalty. I won’t go there. As far as I’m concerned, lock them away and do whatever else. Let the system you know, take its place in prison and things happen.
Yeah, I know what you mean there. Yeah, totally. Okay, another good question. Kind of going back a little bit guys talked about this, but there was a lot of backlash around like the Black Lives Matter and influencers feeling like no matter what they did, they couldn’t win. It was kind of like they’re damned if they did and they’re damned if they didn’t. Do you guys have any advice for people who felt like that?
Again, kind of just go with your heart and do your research. If you feel the need to speak.
Make sure you know what you’re speaking about. And, and if you get backlash, you know, that’s okay. Again, not everybody’s going to agree with you. If you feel in your heart and your mind, you’re doing the right thing and you’re bringing awareness to something that
You feel needs to be brought into light, then I don’t think anybody who’s coming from their heart can do the wrong thing.
Yeah, I just think you have to realize that not everyone’s gonna agree with you and that’s okay. I’m keep some people are open to hearing the message some people aren’t. But again, if you’re putting out facts and putting out the right information, and I think it’s okay. You know, I wrote all lives matter at the end of that and really, it wasn’t about including me or right people specifically when I said it, it was, I was saying it to tie into the police officer, and I wasn’t taking a stance against them, right. But
I do understand a little more. I may not always agree with it, but I understand it a little more. And I think at some point, if I had wanted to say publicly, like, thank you for sharing your thoughts and for educating you more, you know, maybe I should use it in this context. I at least understand where you’re coming from. I think it’s okay to admit that you’re growing and learning in your platform as well. If you feel the situation
That’s what happened. And that it, you know, and that it’s conducive to it. But for the most part, I think it’s just it’s, I just don’t think it’s ever positive for your platform or for your mission for it to turn negative or ugly. So I think the key is really to continue growing. Yeah, to try to not get combative if people do disagree. And if you need to have sidebar conversations with people, you know, and that’s fine, but I typically won’t. And if you are incorrect in your information, certainly, I’m not gonna do it, accept it, and and learn from it. And again, with trafficking, that’s what our specialty is, um, come to us. That’s what we’re here for, you know, don’t know go to our page, reach out to us. And if we don’t have that specific answer you’re looking for, we will lead you to the right resource. We are actively working with more organizations, not just our rescue as much as we love them. We want to spread the love as as much as we can. And we actually after your podcast today, we have a
I meeting with a national Task Force agency of trafficking, to find other ways that we can put our platforms to use, how we can work locally with police organizations, after.
After rescues with survivors, what is needed from the ground up for them. So we’re continually growing as well. I guess the one other thing I would say on that is if you can find like minded individuals to support you in your journey, it’s going to help a lot. So I don’t know that any of us would have been quite as empowered or optimistic on our own. And it was really, it was this chat of like minded influencers that helped us get this much done, Melissa, and I definitely couldn’t have sold $20,000 worth of stuff. Yeah, but also it gave us support when somebody did push back or when whatever and sometimes people with vet responses in the group chats and so if you can find a network to support you
Your journey of learning, it will also go a lot more smoothly, I think and help you stay focused and passion and kind of like on the line with, you know, they’ll help keep you in check, and you grow and learn with each other. So yeah, I love that. And that’s funny you said that because I never really thought about it. But I know for me when I started posting about this, you know, I had a few friends that every time you know, they send you some like clap hand emojis or like support you and be like, Yeah, and I know there was a few times where I actually had reached out to them. And I never even thought to give that as advice. So that’s great advice. Because kind of like you said, I know for me, I can be a very emotional person. So sometimes what I want to say right away maybe isn’t the right thing are going to lead to the best end result. So to like give yourself a few minutes ask somebody else for their advice before you may be engaged in a conversation. And I also think it’s an important message just to anyone, you know, give people grace. We don’t. We’re not maybe always going to say the right thing the first time or it might come off the wrong way. But we all should understand that you
comes from place of good intentions. And so if somebody says something that kind of irks you, but you know that it’s coming from a right place, just give them grace. We don’t need to point out and nitpick every single detail that people say you’re speaking to. That is my motto in life. Give yourself grace give others hence my Instagram Lux with grace, every by definition by God’s grace, and we need to give the same grace God gives us an extend that to humanity. Yeah, I love that. I love that so much. I want to kind of bring this all back to your guys’s organization. What is your goal for influencers act and how do you see this evolving in the coming years? So again,
we are taking the next step. I’ve filed the paperwork to become a nonprofit. We are going to continuously work with other organization we’re meeting with that task force this afternoon. We want to branch out to more influencers do more campaigns. So if you are any other influencers
Want to be a part of it send us to a DM we are starting a spreadsheet on possible ideas in the next campaigns we can do, we want to definitely tie in our fashion into the next whatever we sell Next we have looked into like, you know, bow ties and ties that you know, have a pattern that has something to do with saving the children. But as you know, kind of wearable things like Vineyard Vines and all that stuff, like their days to do it. The teacher was just jumping up off point for us. And the fact that it did that well, is astounding to all of us. We’re still all amazed by that. I mean, it’s a simple t shirt. So if we can make it even more fun in we had a lot of people having four kids shirts, and which I was like, that’s a great idea. I ordered extra smalls for my kids, between them and me, we’ll make it you know, we can all fit but actual kids clothing for parents that want their children to support the campaign as well.
They’re not they know all the details of what they’re supporting that’s between parents and the children. But definitely we want it to be a whole family
campaign that people can support and buy and, and where their support not just one type of item. And like we talked about earlier, so we have, we’re developing an online application that we’ll use to vet influencers because really the goal is to have like a regional director, and then a state lead and then even a city lead.
And so those people can then go on to set up what, whatever local,
whether it’s a demonstration, a March, a local fundraiser, partnering, you know, with a local organization, it has this room to be really big. So that’s kind of like a goal for the overall organization from purely a nonprofit stance. You know, Melissa and I have a lot of ideas like, like we said about also educating people on how to protect their own
And children we want to have we we are looking into actual speakers who can do like a web series for us on how to protect your child online. We want to get into the idea of going into school and having these conversations once schools are open again.
And yes, take it into local fundraising, whether they do a demonstration in March. Even an idea as far as like Susan G. Komen does a Race for the Cure. What can we do as an annual event to where we get
thousands involved on you know, there was obviously
World Day against trafficking of persons. And then January is actually
trafficking Awareness Month. And so even though the day that that was recent was in July, there’s a whole month dedicated to this that we are looking forward to and want to
build up a grand scale of what we’re going to do next is our biggest we will continue to do campaigns throughout. But I think our goal is to have a few massive events each year. Yeah. And to get the media’s attention through them, because the reality is they’re not covering it, which I know Melissa has said a lot of times, but here we are the most, you know, pulled apart and divisive our country’s ever been. Yeah. And so if one possible topic could and should unite us and be front and center, why not rally around our children, right? I mean, they’re the future. They’re the greatest blessing that that God has bestowed upon us and most innocent human beings on this earth are the ones that need the most saving. Yeah. And so we just I think that’s a lot of it, trying to find, trying to help develop the big scale stuff to get the media attention and then providing resources to parents age appropriate and how to talk to kids about it. Sick things that mean a lot of the grooming tech
means that these individuals use are not things that you would necessarily think of. So like, for example, I’m just going to use a basketball coach, but a basketball coach may take his team and say stuff small. Hey, everybody, I’m going to give you a candy bar. Don’t anybody go tell your parents and the kids that go back and tell their parents well, then they’re off his list for kids that would be groom. And they gradually keep doing more and more to test. The trust and secrecy of the kids and the parents like they start to narrow but in from personal experience in my own life.
Also, parents need to be aware of the person that friends, parent. That’s what a lot of people they think, oh, they’re innocent intentions. If they’re coming and befriending me, they’re not interested in my child. That may or may not be the case. So pay attention to when there is a man neighbor who is hanging out with your daughter and even though he is coming and hanging
around and presenting himself as just a friendly neighbor. There could be a lot more to that in, as we said, like coaches, school, everything, it’s it. Yes, there are those criminals who are coming up and just kidnapping children, obviously. But a lot of people turn the blind eye when it comes to people they know. Or in that, like we say all the time in our specific area, our suburb of Austin, we live in a bubble, which is very true. This is a very bubble type of lifestyle. We live out here which that’s that’s what we want our children to have that protective bubble from certain things. But even in our bubble, the evil exists, and we know it and that’s what we need to educate people on is no matter where you are, no matter where you live, what neighborhood how much money you have or don’t have. This is a very real prevalent issue. And we’ll find a way to your child if you are not paying attention. That’s awesome one I’m excited for you know, everything that you got
have planned. I know it’s going to be huge. And I just, it’s exciting for the movement too. And then I love that idea of the training for parents about their own kids. I know on our rescue, they do have a training to help people identify someone who might be being trafficked. But I don’t know I’ve ever heard of that opposite viewpoint that you guys are bringing up. So I think that’s amazing that you’re offering that is that something people should just look for on your Instagram? Um, yes, as we continue to develop. Currently, we are already putting out like, post with the information that we’re building on. We are still waiting for the official, I guess, paperwork back from the nonprofit agency.
Because we need to build our website, everything else which my husband who I’ve kind of bounced off ideas from, he says we can go ahead and do that our paperwork is there. Go ahead and start building it. So we’re going to be discussing that this afternoon on
when we can start reaching out to these speakers and things like that and
We do, we need that we need that help. So if anybody who’s listening has people that they can send us as a resource, they can build website, we need a website, for sure. And this is all in it is gonna be nonprofit. So please, we’re gonna need help, and we can’t afford much. We want the real money to go to the projects and not spend too much money creating the resources wherever possible. So we want to trademark we need an attorney to help with that this even the nonprofit status, Melissa found out can take up to a year, three months to a year so we’re hoping it’ll be way faster, but we may need an attorney to help us figure out what we need to do to push that through.
We need people to help us with a newsletter once we get up and going so there’s going to be whatever talents you have, they may not even know where they’re applicable yet, but just even artists just reach out to us. Can I make a painting for you a graphic on your page and beautiful work and we’re like yes, whatever. We want to share the information as as
fast as we can, and whatever talents skills somebody has that we don’t have. Or even if we do already have it, there’s room for more, the more help, the better. The Facebook page is also a place where we’re posting some of that stuff. My brother in law actually works for a company where they go in more with companies that interact with small with young kids. But for example, like the national gymnastics Association, or the scandal of California University with the doctor, and so they go in and do kind of like risk assessment. And then they do training for the individuals that work there on like, what things people do to groom and what things to look for, because people weren’t speaking up if something made him a little uncomfortable, but it didn’t feel strong enough, you know, people weren’t speaking out or paying attention. And so that’s where a lot of this awareness comes in. So we’ll be using resources like him to get the information and then hopefully putting it into videos and talks and different things that whether it’s all for the parent or whether it’s something a parent
trial can look at or read or discuss together, we’re hoping to have a plethora of resources. But right now it’s Instagram and Facebook are working obviously on the website and all the other stuff but and our other. There’s a third partner as far as the nonprofit part of it is concerned. And her name is Jenny Beth, she’s ambitious blonde on Instagram. And she, her husband is actually a part of a Trafficking Task Force. And that’s how our next contract that we’re speaking to later on today, that came from her husband and their network of where the assessment of needs is going to go next. So between
influencers and the people that come to us, asking for our resources to go to whichever organization is needed next. That is what what we need the mission, any of your listeners, if you think you have something that can help make sure to reach out and get in contact. That would be such a blessing and is the best way to reach you guys email or dm. So our email is influencing
firstname.lastname@example.org on Instagram, we are influencers underscore x. Those are the best ways I think to actually reach out to us dm on Instagram or our email address. And then our Facebook group is really a sounding board to get information out there and ask questions but as far as I’m looking for people to reach out to us for resources to help us I think Instagram and our email addresses the best way. Facebook is a really good way to help share the message and make somebody isn’t a big Instagram person. They can see posts and if it tugs at their heartstrings. They can repost and so it’s a way to spread awareness, but it’s less of the act of primary platform for communication, I guess otherwise. That makes sense. And I’ll put all the links in the show notes. And then just to wrap it up, is there anything else you guys want to talk about that I can add in, we just want to continue to stretch
The need for media attention,
the statistics, do your research. It’s gut wrenching, multi million dollar industry of trafficking children. And the fact again, that the US is the number one consumer, for this
disgusting need of children. And one of the things I will say and not to make it political, but just think about the platforms that are out there, and how we know that certain things, whether it’s COVID related or politics related, are being censored. If these platforms would spend an eighth of the time using these apps, you know, their algorithms to shut down the
distribution of the child porn of people trying to sell kids online, literally 70% of children who are trafficked or at some point sold for sex online. Yeah, so if the and the videos are out there Pornhub
There’s there is a petition right now trafficking hub calm, it’s a petition to shut down that industry they themselves. One of the top searches on Pornhub is team. And that can their way around it is by saying team can be a team. There’s actual factual videos of 14 year old girls 15 year old girls being raped right in front of people’s eyes. And now normal. You know, you and me, we would not be going on Pornhub and searching these things we don’t you know, you don’t see it. You don’t realize that, that there are people out there that are searching for that Facebook. There was a rescue posted about a group of trafficking ring that were putting children sex videos on Facebook. I mean, that’s horrendous and those things aren’t getting censored, which the thing they weren’t because they were recognized and turned in, but you can put something that says save our children.
And we get sensor. I literally I tried to promote our grid that we did where it was all of us influencers with our signs. They were all the children say virtually. Instagram shut it down. They said it went against their standards. Why on earth What a great grid promoting saving children vegan standard. It’s not adding up there is a censorship going on in the media and social media platforms, not just news definitely a news things are fed to the news that I don’t understand how that even happens. But that’s beyond me. But the things I can change, we need to make a difference. We should not be censored when it comes to talking about saving our children.
Yeah, so everybody can help. It’s just what is your calling? Are you a mom at home that can share posts and talk to your friends about it? Are you another influencer? It’s really just finding your niche and your calling and realizing doing your education, you know, 300 300 300,000 children are
New children are trafficked and stuck in this horrendous lifestyle every year, and it’s time to stop. So if we’ve come to your heartstrings at all, find a way to get involved, go to a demonstration, put on a demonstration, share a post, you know, do a fundraiser volunteer at one of the local centers. A lot of times these kids can’t go back to normal their normal lives because maybe it was a family member that tropic them or they’re gone, they don’t they have no clue where they are. So there are these aftercare shelters that need volunteers that need loving individuals to try and help stabilize and normalize these children back into a lifestyle because so many of them actually try to run and go back into child prostitution. And it just it they need help.
So yeah, find your passion. Find your heart, listen to it, and definitely follow us for more information.
Thank you so much for listening. If you liked what you heard, it goes a long way. If you can
Take 30 seconds and leave me a five star review and share this podcast with your friends. All right you guys I’ll see you on the next episode.