Miss Julie’s School of Beauty hosted a paint-and-sip fundraising event this weekend to support its nonprofit in empowering human trafficking survivors.

“Everybody who is here is helping us,” the founder of Miss Julie’s School of Beauty Julie Chapus said. “So none of these students would be paying a dime to get this license.”

Miss Julie's School of Beauty is a startup, nonprofit cosmetology school seeking to provide vocational training to those at risk and survivors of human trafficking.

“We are the first school of its kind in the USA,” Chapus said. “There's a school like this that exists in Cambodia. One exists in India, but there is nothing within the United States right now that is offering licensure to human trafficking survivors. There's a lot of education that needs to go on about it because a lot of the people that I talk to about human trafficking, they're like, well, that's not here. Wow, if only you knew. Yeah, it's happening right here in our own backyards and it's very sad and it's heinous.”

The event will not only support Julie's cause in providing long-term careers for survivors, but also spread awareness surrounding the issue.

“I also like to provide the training because our traffickers use our salon industry in every single stage of trafficking, from grooming to recruiting,” Chapus said. “Let me take you to get your hair done. Let me take you to get your nails done. These are all signs, you guys, this hair loss isn't always alopecia. Like those little bruises in there. Somebody ripped that hair out. It's worth a conversation with your client, don't ignore it.”

The event gained support from not only guests but other local organizations as well.

“Julie still needs help out there,” president of Lima’s Rotary Club Jericho Banker said. “You know, I think a lot of different community organizing organizations can get involved. So Rotary helping her mission and then other people getting on board, we can really make a very big dent in this issue with lots of people on board.”

Guest artist Shawnee Hill said he finds art as a creative medium and an outlet for guests to express themselves.

“Telling people to let loose and just put something on the paper, doesn't matter what you do,” Hill said. “That little bit can leave it for someone to try to help someone else, you know, and that kind of domino effect is something that I'm always going to be trying to do, because this is all you can do.”

Shawnee found that this issue hits close to her own life.

“Julie is the local chapter for this kind of voice,” Hill said. “You know, the fact that I have an ability to contribute and be a Native person and how that is a huge aspect of what's happening, that culture, what has happened to that culture for so long really wanted me, drove me to contribute to whatever I could locally.”

Chapus hopes these fundraisers will not only support its anti-trafficking efforts but empower those at risk and its survivors.

“Our motto is the past will not keep you from a beautiful future,” she said. “When you're on the street. You don't know where your next meal is coming from. You don't know where you're going to be spending the night. It doesn't have to be this way for you forever.”