Nov 02, 2012 08:08AM ● Published by Style
Photo by Dante Fontana, © Style Media Group.
Except for scars on her legs where she was brutally attacked by dogs, one might never suspect Teav Mam,
a beautiful 34-year-old and loving fiancée, survived one of history’s most horrific and senseless genocides – the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia, where it’s estimated that up to 3 million Cambodians lost their lives. Nor might one imagine that after fleeing her native country at the age of seven for safer shores in America in 1982, the cruelty could possibly continue. But it did: Here she survived abuse, homelessness, even a gang.
And yet not only did Mam endure, she thrived. Today, the successful hairstylist (she owns Studio 17 inside Folsom’s Sola Salon) is using her experience to empower others to better circumstances. “I got my closures through cosmetology,” Mam says. “I wanted to reach out to abused women to help make a difference in their lives.” So, after learning girls as young as five years old were being targeted by sex traffickers in Cambodia, a determined Mam, who by then was providing free hair services to women at area shelters, began helping victims of abuse and sexual enslavement.
In 2011, she was introduced to and joined forces with Chris McCarley and Jonathan Klein, founders of El Dorado Hills-based nonprofit, The Trade. Established to elevate women to better circumstances throughout the world, The Trade gives impoverished, abused and trafficked women the training and tools to work as stylists and operate businesses in their communities. It also grants domestic scholarships to those with dream of pursuing careers in cosmetology. The overarching idea is to provide women with a skill, and in doing so, long-term sustainability for themselves and their loved ones.
“The Trade knows that education is the only lasting solution,” explains Mam, who is mentoring Cambodian teens rescued from sex trafficking while trying to raise $10,000 to start the “Growing Hope” beauty school in her native country. As such, it’s especially active in areas like Cambodia, Nicaragua, Brazil, Kenya and Mexico, where women are particularly vulnerable to human traffickers.
To fund its efforts, The Trade netted more than 100 stylists from the greater Sacramento area to participate in the organization’s first annual Cut for a Cause fundraiser, held September 16. The event united stylists nationwide, with participants donating all or partial proceeds from their appointments that day to The Trade. The nonprofit also collects and sharpens used cutting shears for stylists-in-training or for purchase, with 100 percent of profits used to support its efforts – or, as Mam puts it, “to give women a profession, dignity and a new life.”
Impressively, The Trade has also garnered the attention and support of celebrity stylist Ken Paves and fashion designer Victoria Beckham. While both have helped raise the organization’s profile, it’s individuals like Mam who make it successful at the grassroots level. “I have seen and been with these amazing girls, and the love and talent they have to offer the world is so remarkable,” she says. “Everyone I’ve met along my journey has been so educational.”
Visit supportthetrade.org for more information.