Jill Johnson on Awe Inspired and the Gift of Handmade Jewelry

Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council. The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence.

Jill Johnson is a three-time cancer survivor, mother, and business woman. She founded Awe Inspired in 2018 with her son Max to make meaningful and exceptional quality gifts for anyone looking to honor a survivor in their life. Awe Inspired is on a mission to enhance the human experience through gifts that celebrate individuality, foster connections, give back generously, and leave people in AWE.

What inspired you to become part of RAINN's National Leadership Council?

During Covid, it was startling to learn that the services RAINN provides were being requested at a higher rate than pre-Covid — and that people were literally stuck at home with their abuser. People did not have the support of teachers, co-workers, friends; they were literally imprisoned by the pandemic. It broke my heart — knowing that a person couldn't even call the hotline for support, and get some relief because they had no privacy in their own home.

In a family, the bulk of the responsibility still falls on the woman/mother. Mothers are often protecting their children from abuse, and never getting any of their needs met. Women need to feel empowered. Women must stop competing with each other and start supporting each other more.

Do you feel special motivation about this issue?

My parents divorced when I was eleven years old and three months later, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Those two events were very traumatic and I was literally fighting for my life and not even realizing what that meant until I got much older. I became invincible — I wasn't going to let anyone hurt me, push me around — no boss was going to harass me, belittle me, and I stood up to several scary men in my life including friends' husbands and their boyfriends that were abusive. Several times, I stepped in to help strangers in restaurants and bars when men were threatening them.

NO one should ever fear another human being. I cannot think of anything worse than being abused by someone who professes their love to you and that, in itself, is abusive.

Your company has a special dedication to enhancing the human experience through gifting and giving back. Why did you pursue this area of giving such beautiful jewelry and gifts?

We designed our Goddess pieces with two goals in mind — to empower people and to give back generously to causes that support women and children. We make beautiful handmade pieces that I hope remind the wearer that they're a survivor, that they can do hard things, that they are loved because they are worthy of being loved. Strength, hope, and resilience.

How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?

Don't judge. Be a soft place for a friend, sibling, neighbor, co-worker to land. Open your heart and mind to someone who might be in pain. Stop blaming the victims; we must be more outraged by all forms of abuse. No one has the right to hurt another person. Verbal abuse can be as damaging as physical abuse. As a society, we must be more outraged and hold these perpetrators accountable. Stop making victims feel as if THEY did something wrong. If you see something, say something. Speak up. YOU could be saving someone's life.

What is your message to survivors?

Please ask for help; please do not be ashamed. YOU did nothing wrong —there are many, many wonderful people in the world that want to help and WILL help you. Remind yourself several times a day that — I am worthy of love and friendship that lifts me up, not tears me down.

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