SisterHearts: Not Your Average Thrift Store

Maryam Uloho is one of the many victims of police brutality and the blatant racism of our criminal justice system. In March of 2001, she was arrested for allegedly participating in armed robbery, which she had no part of. In prison, she was constantly subject to physical and mental abuse. Maryam explains that prison teaches you to hate yourself and reduce your self-worth to nothing. While many prisoners unfortunately adopt this mindset for the rest of their lives, Maryam remains strong each and every day. When prison guards told her she was ugly or stupid, she rejected their claims and continued to hold her head high.

After serving her sentence, Maryam was released with only $40 and nowhere to go. Formerly incarcerated people are released every day under these same circumstances, and unfortunately have no choice but to re-offend. The prison system sets people up for failure over and over again. It is extremely difficult for ex-convicts to find jobs and shelter and be able to set up a life for themselves. Because of this, Maryam created SisterHearts, a thrift store that only employs formerly incarcerated people. The business also provides housing and workshops to help reintegrate these people into society and strip away the prison mentality that has been engrained in their daily routines. Maryam used her $40 to slowly start her company, which now occupies a large store space and has tons of merchandise including clothes, shoes, furniture, art, appliances, and more that have been donated by the community.

On September 23, I had the chance to visit SisterHearts and work with Maryam and her employees for a day. I heard their stories of defeat and resilience and found a new appreciation for former prisoners. Often times, people are victims of circumstance and, while they may have done something wrong, that does not necessarily mean they are bad people. They are making active efforts to be participating members of their community and they welcomed me with kind and open arms. My time at SisterHearts was extremely moving and I encourage everyone in the area to visit, talk to the employees, and maybe find some new wardrobe pieces.

Contact SisterHearts:

Phone: (504) 345-2276

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sisterheartsthriftstore/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sisterhearts_thriftstore/

7617 W Judge Perez Drive

Arabi, LA 70032