My Sister’s Closet, a resale fashion boutique supporting survivors of human trafficking, relocated to the Village Shoppes shopping center in Bethlehem on April 9.
According to CEO of Bloom Carol Andersen, the boutique is a funding source for Bloom for Women Inc., a nonprofit organization providing a sanctuary to female survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation.
The store was previously located at Bath Pike in Bethlehem. Store manager Rebekah Fritchman said they decided to move to the Village Shoppes because they thought it would bring in more customers.
Fritchman said the popular brunch restaurant Mitzi’s Table, which is a few doors down from the boutique, has been sending their customers over to My Sister’s Closet since the boutique’s grand opening.
“Now, we’re in an actual shopping center where we can get more people to come in,” Fritchman said. “The more people that come and spend money, the more women that we can reach out to and help them get back up on their feet.”
As stated on their website, Bloom operates four residential homes in the Lehigh Valley that help female survivors of sex trafficking start over, begin to heal from their trauma and provide them with the hope needed to transition to a better life.
The store sells women’s clothing and accessories for all occasions. Fritchman said everything they sell in the store is donated, and all of their funding goes to the four homes.
Two of those homes, the Heather and Jasmine Houses, offer long-term residential programs for survivors.
“(In the homes), they move through multiple phases, gain privileges and reach their own goals over time,” Andersen said. “They can stay with us at no cost for up to two years. At the end of their time with us, if they are safe and if they want to stay, they can move into one of our two transitional homes.”
Bloom operates two transitional homes, the Lilac and Lily Houses. Andersen said the homes are independent, fee-based homes where women can stay indefinitely as they rebuild their lives.
Participants in Bloom’s programs also have the option to work for My Sister’s Closet. Anderson said this opportunity allows the women to gain a work history that may help them get other jobs in the future.
Judy Holmberg, a sales clerk at My Sister’s Closet, began working for the boutique in August 2021. She said she was amazed to learn about the amount of women in the Lehigh Valley who needed help.
“It’s something you almost don’t think about,” Holmberg said. “We help a lot of people. I’ve met a few of the graduates and it’s just changed their lives. They’re treated like how they should be treated in one of our homes.”
Andersen said the residents of Bloom’s Houses inspire her to be better at what she does. She said because many of the residents have not had supportive communities in the past to help overcome their trauma, she believes it’s Bloom’s role to help them reach safe and meaningful lives.
“They’re very courageous,” Andersen said. “The fact that they are willing to put the time into finding a new way to live and heal from some of the most horrific injustices is so amazing to watch unfold. They have dreams just like you and I. The things they can achieve and how hard they work is incredible.”