Adored Boutique: A Ministry with a Storefront Helping Women Break Free from Human Trafficking, Heartless Working Conditions
They're helping women from around the world break free from the clutches of human trafficking and working in sweat shops that force them to earn as little as 3 cents per hour, working up to 100-plus hours a week, according to https://www.theworldcounts.com/.
"The whole industry is designed to hold people down, oppress people," Smith says.
Smith on the other hand is doing her part to give that grime reality a knockout punch by showing women just how much their Creator adores them.
The stylish clothes she sells at Adored Boutique qualify as "fair fashion" meaning the workers – usually women – are paid a fair wage and work under humane conditions.
This is in part why Smith calls Adored Boutique a ministry with a storefront.
"My personal belief is exploitation is a global problem but it happens right under our noses in Grand Rapids and we, as a public, are sheltered from it," Smith says. "The people who contribute to it don't want us to know about it. It's the same with the garment industry. We wouldn't buy products if it showed pictures of women working 23 hours without a bathroom break. It's greed that causes exploitation. We want more stuff cheaper and faster and that's greed. We can choose a different way and can actually change a person's life by buying this sweatshirt and not this sweatshirt."
But Smith sensed that season in her life was drawing to a close but was unsure which new direction she would take.
A series of events – God moments – steered in her toward retail, even though she has no background in running a store.
She recalls the time when she and her family were on spring break in Nashville. Smith went inside a clothing store and received an epiphany: She could own and operate a similar store.
"I loved the space and the encounter I was having," Smith recalls. "I didn't want to leave."
Later, during a mission trip to Cuba, the Lord nudged Smith's nascent direction a little more.
Get out of the boat
"I could tell there was something big for me," Smith says. "'What do you have? I want it.' I'd forgotten about this encounter of the store in Nashville."
The Lord's direction was clear to her.
"'Go out of the boat,'" Smith recalls. 'Emily do you trust me?' Three Cuban women who didn't speak English spoke words of encouragement to me. 'I have something for you. If you want it, it's yours but you have to step out of what is uncomfortable.'
"I knew in my heart what He was saying. 'I want you to open a store.'"
Smith opened Adored Boutique in December 2016 at 968 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids. The 900-square foot storefront's moniker reflects both what the Holy Spirit has accomplished in Smith and for the women who need to know they are indeed adored.
"I believed lies about myself back to my childhood that I was insufficient," Smith recalls. "He (the Holy Spirit) revealed to me how much He adores me. I knew exactly what He meant and what I want to do in the hearts of the women.
"I was in journey to understand He adores me and during the Christmas of 2015, we were in Chicago and visited the Chicago Tabernacle and as worshiping and singing 'O Came Let Us Adore Him' and got a lightening bolt of the Holy Spirit," Smith continues.
"A couple of times I would fall back on my seat. I got out of church and asked my husband (Rolf) did you see that? I think it has to do with the store. The next three days I prayed, 'Lord, I know it was You. Help me understand.' And I felt prompt to Google search the word 'worthy' and the first synonym that popped up was 'adored.' Everything He had done in me coalesced. I loved it more than any other name I had tossed in my head."
Since the opening of Adored Boutique, Smith has donated 15% of her profits to various ministries that rescue, restore and prevent human trafficking. Her purchases from fair fashion makers have paid 7,000 salaries.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic has required Smith to help out in another way besides monetary donations.
"I made a big donation of actual product to the local Sacred Beginnings because she (founder Leslie King) has two safe houses in town," Smith says.
A godly light
There are other ways Smith is a godly light. On a wall in her store hang tags with handwritten prayer requests on them.
"I did that as a visual reminder of why I'm here and as a way for God to reach people," she says. "It's for anyone who wants to leave one."
Smith is also a teacher, a leader who wants women to assuredly know where God wants them to be. That's why she teaches a morning and evening virtual class called Designed To Be Ministries. Its vision is to transform the hearts and minds of women who know abut Jesus but don't know the abundance that God designed them to know Him.
"There's a worldly feminist movement that says they can do it all on their own but women secretly know they can't do it all on their own," Smith says. "Christ has truth for us and when we step into the truth, we're just living in His truth and then we don't carry the weight of what we can't do. 'His yoke is easy and His burden is light.'"
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