Before I started working at Rethreaded, life as a survivor was hard to navigate. I remember feeling unloved and unlovable. When I walked in for my interview, I was nervous. When we sat down, Kristin lit a candle and prayed with me before the interview started and I immediately felt more at ease. I had been turned down for many jobs because of my record so I was afraid that this would happen here too. She showed me love and grace that day when she talked to me about my past without judgment and just believed in me.
In the retail space, I immediately noticed the wall of scarves. They were organized by color and style. I learned that these are one of the first products new survivor's make. Each scarf is made out of upcycled t-shirt, cut into 15 individual threads and stretched by hand. Once stretched, each strand curls, eliminating all errors made in the cutting process, leaving you with the perfect strand to add to the bundle. Once bundled, all unique strands are then tied together into a beautiful scarf. This is the story of the Grace Scarf.
The Grace Scarf is my favorite because it reminds me every day of the grace that I have received and am called to extend to others. Our scarves come in so many colors and different styles! We have the Chunky Grace Scarves, Hand Dyed Grace Scarves and Team Grace Scarves. You can add a pop of color to any outfit! See more ways to rock yours. This year we introduced the Scarf of The Month, each month there is a different, limited-edition color scarf that is only produced one time-- and they've been selling out quickly!
When someone is wearing one of our scarves, she is empowering a woman and saying that her past does not define her!
From the Founder and President, Kristin Keen:
The original idea I had for Rethreaded was that it would be a distribution company in the United States for foreign survivor-made goods. I thought I could hire a couple survivors in Jacksonville to help me run the business and I would be able to make an impact on a local and global level. God had bigger plans. My friend told me about a college research project his daughter had been participating in. She discovered that America is just throwing away all its unwanted t-shirts. I cringed at the thought and did some research. This is what I found:
Effectively, that research project changed the course of Rethreaded. When I help to co-found Sari Bari, the survivors there made blankets and purses from upcycled saris, the traditional dress worn by Indian women. I thought why couldn't we do the same thing in America with t-shirts? Rethreaded could be more than a distribution company, we could also be an upcycled t-shirt company.
I remember when I pitched the idea at One Spark. I only had two minutes. I got on stage and stood in front of all these people and I asked everyone to raise their hands if they had old t-shirts in their closets. Everyone raised their hands. Then I asked who wanted to use those t-shirts to change the world. Everyone raised their hands again.
(Kristin Keen at 2013 One Spark)
Now a few years later, people have been using their old t-shirts to tell a new story. We have a thriving business that has impacted the lives of 30 survivors through direct employment and helped to sustain the freedom of 2,200 women globally through our distribution company. We have upcycled countless t-shirts into beautiful items like the Grace Scarf and Threads for Hope Bracelet and even started a corporate gift collection, Gifts of Hope.
So, what story do you want your t-shirt to tell?
You can drop off donations Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at 820 Barnett St, Jacksonville, FL 32209.
To organize a t-shirt drive or if you know a company looking for somewhere to donate misprints, out of date, overstock t-shirts contact us.
We strive to be a conscious company for conscious consumers because we know that EVERY item that is purchased makes an impact on the world. Either you can make a positive or a negative influence, you have the power to choose.
At Rethreaded we make this choice by ensuring each company we partner with and each item we make meets at least one or more of these five criteria:
When materials are upcycled they are repurposed and turned into something beautiful instead of taking up space in a landfill. At Rethreaded many of our items are made from materials like t-shirts, saris and soon leather seat covers. When you rock our Grace Scarf or write your hopes and dreams in a Sari Notebook, you are supporting a culture that values the world we live in and are decreasing waste.
When you buy Fair Trade you are ensuring that the item you purchased is made and sold with respect to a person’s working conditions, wage, economy and the environment. Item’s like our Rwandan Survivor-Made Coffee and Tree of Life Coasters prove that there can be greater justice in this world and that valuing people first isn’t out of reach in any system.
Products made by survivors create economic empowerment through employment. We believe that employment is key in breaking the cycle. It’s why our business model relies on selling items like Threads for Hope Bracelet which fund our three-month training program for new hires. It is why we import from companies all over and sell items like Lavender Candles made by survivors in Nashville, Tenessee who are finding new life through employment at a company called Thistle Farms.
Supporting local businesses isn’t just good for the local economy it also enhances the local community and character. Rethreaded wouldn’t be what it is today without the community’s involvement and in that way we also want to give back. Whenever possible we source our raw materials from other local companies like Social Grounds Coffee and Eco Relics and believe these partnerships add incredible value to our brand and community. We have also saved taxpayers nearly $250,000 by decreasing recidivism over the last five years. We have watched the immeasurable good of families reunited and are investing in and offering women healing and careers with the Survivor Development Program.
Sustainably made goods are created by using materials that provide environmental, social and economic benefits. Every item we make in the Rethreaded Freedom Market provides all these things whether it's a Harmony Braid Bracelet or a Halo Necklace, we strive to make an impact with every item we make and use. As a company, we use upcycled t-shirt towels for cleaning and to dry our hands with instead of disposable towels. We also use environmentally-friendly cleaning products in our warehouse. We want to not only impact the lives of the women we serve and the community, but also the environment we live in.
Each decision to make a purchase is important, too important to make without making a conscious choice.
I have heard it said that you will spend one third of your life working, one third of your life sleeping, and the other third of your life getting ready to go to work or sleep. Of course there are many other things that make up life, but it seems where we work and the work we do has a significant impact on our lives.
One of the first questions people ask each other when they are getting to know each other is, "what do you do?" And the response is usually what the person does for a job day to day. We identify ourselves so much with what we do and can find a great sense of self-worth and purpose in a supportive and healthy work environment.
So at Rethreaded, we asked, how can we seek to empower survivors and fight to break the cycle of the sex trade without considering this vital element? We can have and provide services focused on rescue, rehabilitation and restoration for survivors. We can meet their basic needs of housing, personal items, treatment and counseling, but then what? Once these programs come to end, what is the next course of action for these women?
For many survivors of the sex trade, across the nation and overseas, employment is a challenging issue. 90% of women stuck in the cycle of the sex trade remain there because they don’t have access to services and job opportunities. For the survivors who are able to escape and receive services, many have criminal histories, little or no work experience, and lack of self-worth, so they find themselves with no viable employment options. All of these factors can lead survivors back into the same vulnerabilities that led them to exploitation and trafficking in the first place.
When you economically empower a woman, you are taking away the vulnerabilities that made her susceptible to exploitation in the first place. At Rethreaded, this is how we believe the cycle is most easily broken. Survivors often come to us without the ability to dream for themselves again. We believe one key way to develop their self-worth and give them hope again is to give them viable and creative employment. This is not a short-term solution or charity. Our goal is to invest in survivors for at least three to five years by training them in a job that can lead to a career. We do this by helping a woman discover her natural capabilities and building on those in an area of the company (production, sales, marketing, admin/finance or inventory) with which she can thrive.
We are already seeing the success of this model. Women who have been at Rethreaded for as short as six months are becoming whole in ways they never imagined possible. We are seeing these women advocate for each other; we are seeing these women reshape the culture that helped keep them trapped in the cycle.
The additional benefit is that building a woman's confidence in her role not only affects her. She is learning how her job and what she does can have an incredible impact on the business, on the community and most important to our model -- it can pave the way for the next survivor's success and healing.
We know that you can’t start a new life without a new job. This is why we focus on employment, why we focus on business, because we are watching the cycle being broken, not slowed down, or stalled, but BROKEN. It’s an investment that has immeasurable huge returns.
However you engage with us, whether you buy and rock a Grace Scarf or Threads for Hope Bracelet, whether you give to the Survivor Development Program, or share this blog with your friends, you are being a part of truly changing a woman's life. Be someone who believes in second chances.
To learn how survivors are shaping the culture we live in read Survivors Voices and Advocacy on the Rise in Jacksonville.
To find out how survivors lives have been renewed watch our newest video Renewed: To Be Made Strong Again.
This month Rethreaded and the survivor voice has had a large presence in the local media. There is an undercurrent of change in the city of Jacksonville right now in regards to human trafficking awareness and advocacy and the women featured as survivor advocates and leaders are on the forefront. It is a hopeful time for our city and there is more help and resources on the way.
First, we heard from Alyssa Beck who shares eloquently about what happened to her and how the women in this situation should be recognized as victims instead of criminalized. He Told Me He Could Help Me: How a Jacksonville Woman Was Recruited Into Sex Trafficking.
Next we heard from Jamie Rosseland, who wrote a letter to the Justice Coalition regarding the way her life was affected by being featured in a section called “Shame Shame Shame” of the Victim's Advocate. Her letter led to the victory of these archives being removed from the internet and relief for women who have been publically shamed. Women Like Me Don't Come Back From The Dead.
Her Song Founder, Rachel White, was honored by the FBI for the work she does to advocate for and assist human trafficking survivors. At Rethreaded, Her Song helps to facilitate the Survivor Development Program that provides mental health counseling, case management, crisis intervention and other life skills. Jacksonville Woman Honored By FBI For Work In Assisting Human Trafficking Victims.
Several city council members met with State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Sheriff Mike William, and service providers on March 13th to discuss the issue of human trafficking in our city. Our Founder, Kristin Keen, suggested focusing on the demand side of the prostitution transaction and asked JSO to look at the approach other cities take, like Seattle’s, City Leader's Want To Crack Down On Human Trafficking And Help Victims. Reporters also spoke to Jamie Rosseland about her opinion on the meeting, Human Trafficking on the First Coast and lastly, Kristin Keen spoke with another station about the significance of the meeting and how it is reshaping our culture, City Human Trafficking Meeting Brings Forth Need For Resources, Cultural Shift.
Alyssa Beck was awarded the Department of Juvenile Justice Youth Ambassador Award this month, recognizing her for being instrumental in effecting change at the public policy level. Alyssa is also working to establish a network of first-responders to identified victims of human trafficking within the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, to provide them a clinical counselor, survivor mentor and survivor advocate, Non-Profit Pushing To Establish Statewide Network To Help Survivors Of Sex Trafficking.
Kristin was asked to say a few words about the rescued special needs woman who was reported missing and then found being trafficked on Backpage in a Jacksonville hotel room. "’It still shocks me, and it still breaks my heart, and it just makes me want to work harder to advocate for change,’ Keen said of hearing stories like this one.” Mentally Disabled Woman Rescued From Sex Traffickers. This story was also shared on social media by Shared Hope International.
Rethreaded is happy to a part of these conversations and the change that is happening in our city.
At Rethreaded, we have heard survivors say time and time again that they have not felt that they have had permission to dream big, and at times I have felt that way myself. To truly break the cycle of the sex trade women need to be empowered to dream as big as they wish. That’s why this year we are focusing on advocacy, career building and leadership training through the Survivor Development Program.
Last week, we went to the Eighth Annual Professional Development Forum, Finding Your True North & Keeping It presented by the UNF Coggin College of Business student-led organization Women in Business Society. For one of our employees, it was the first time she had been invited to attend a professional event like this. We were very excited for the opportunity. We attended workshops where they talked about effective leadership, finding personal strengths and discussed the results of personality tests. One of the most impactful moments for one of them woman was during a session where the professor identified her as having the highest dominance score in the room. He spoke about the quality as an asset and encouraged her in her role as a leader. In a moment, what she saw as something negative in herself now had value. She said, “I knew that I had certain skills but for a long time I didn’t think it possible for these to translate into anything purposeful or meaningful in life. Recently, I have started to have a shift in perspective and heard other people around me saying the same thing.”
We left the event feeling confident that we can use our skills to empower others and felt inspired to grow into the leaders we are created to be. For us this was just more confirmation that people believe in us and because of it, we are more comfortable with who we are.
At Rethreaded, we hear more and more every day that survivors are finding their hopes and dreams again. Help us to keep igniting passion and purpose into the lives of survivors by donating the Survivor Development Program.
I recently attended the Jacksonville Business Journal’s Advertising and Marketing Summit with the Rethreaded Marketing team. It was my first experience in this type of environment. I have only been working in marketing for about 6 months and I have had no prior experience, so this was so exciting for me! Ansley, the Director of Marketing at Rethreaded, explained a few things that made me feel more comfortable and at ease. I learned about the importance of networking and making connections at this kind of function as I watched her interact with other professionals.
Because of my current role, I am involved in event logistics, I was noticing all of the small details that made that event go off so well. The first thing I noticed was that the event’s sponsors were well represented. The way the tables were set-up with dark tablecloths and light-colored overlays, check-in table was well organized and the speaker was very engaging. Breakfast was served quickly and I was pleasantly surprised that they even had a vegan option! Then, the panel was introduced and we learned about each individual’s accomplishments and qualifications. I took notes as each speaker talked about their biggest victories in business and biggest mistakes.
There are a couple of things that I really liked they spoke about building trust, being authentic and that you have to market the marketing. Someone said, “just because I am immersed in a campaign doesn’t mean everyone else is”. I understood this because during Christmas we had The Rethreaded Challenge and I remember expecting someone from another department to know all about it, they didn’t and I realized then that I was having tunnel vision and needed to step back and “market the marketing”. The knowledge and experience I gained at the event were absolutely beneficial to the development of my skills in marketing and I am glad to have been a part of it.
At Rethreaded incredible things happen every day. The redemption that the organization holds is baffling and quite often our community really expresses their love for us in spectacular ways! Most recently this manifested itself by a couple of Rethreaded employees getting the opportunity to meet Kari Jobe at New Life Christian Fellowship during The Garden Tour. A couple of phone calls were made by a Rethreaded advocate that allowed the organization the opportunity to meet the Christian contemporary singer and songwriter and gift her with some Rethreaded gear. (We are hopefully anticipating a great picture of Kari wearing a Chunky Grace Scarf!)
The whole experience was made even more special by the fact that the two survivors who were able to attend the event really love Kari Jobe’s music. For one of the women it was her first Christian concert and an experience that she will never forget. She said, “I have been listening to her music and watching her videos and it has always touched me how enthusiastically Kari sings and worships, but to be there. It’s like I just wanted to soak it all in.” The night started off with early entry into the concert and getting to be a part of a small, intimate Q & A with Kari and her husband Cody. Many of the questions were geared to Kari’s music ministry by aspiring worship leaders. Then came the meet and greet. Kari was so humble and down to earth, but also excited to hear about the mission of Rethreaded.
Reflecting on the experience reminds not only the women who were able to attend but the entire staff, that what seems unachievable, extravagant and out of reach may really just be a phone call away. With a community that really cares, we can accomplish anything. The final and lasting impression of the women attending the concert was this, “The impossible is possible and God is all around us.”
As everyone started to arrive at this year’s Mukti, the weather was perfect and the valet took care of parking (nice!). The first thing that we did was get our photo taken at the Tin Can Photo Lounge (sponsored by Freshfield Farms) and it was super fun to have a chance to be silly! When we walked in the Glass Factory the venue was beautiful and the lighting was perfect, we started the night off with a welcome drink provided by Constellation Brands. Straight ahead, was the silent auction. It was so well organized and displayed, I was impressed!
My friends started to show up and we decided to head over to the pop-up shop and do a little browsing. We learned that some of the products were handmade out of t-shirt by local survivors of human trafficking and others were imported from all over the world. Either way each product is handmade by a survivor and every purchase economically empowers a woman in the U.S. or overseas - that’s amazing! I even found a special gift for my Valentine.
The next thing I knew, the room was full of people, all with one purpose that night: to celebrate freedom! I went over to the table for the champagne raffle and got my number. The Band Be Easy was playing and I was making my way to the dance floor but I had to stop and try out the Hors d'oeuvres! The lights began to flicker and everyone started to find their seats. When I got to my table the first thing I noticed was the centerpiece, the floral arrangements by Cantor Palm were breathtaking and I had to have one! I claimed my Mukti flowers right then.
Lawson and Chelsea Carr, the emcees introduced themselves and then the current human trafficking statistics were projected onto the big screen. The room became silent as we took in the information and were all in awe of what is being accomplished at Rethreaded. Mac McGhee, Executive Vice President of Mac Papers (the presenting sponsor) and Tyson Alualu, defensive end for the Jacksonville Jaguars both stood behind the podium and read poetry. When they were finished we went over to the bar to get a glass of wine to drink with dinner. The food was served buffet style by Biscottis and we each made a plate, we chose from salad, penne pasta, green beans and either chicken or salmon. We stopped by the dessert table to grab a cupcake from Sweet by Holly, macaroons from Motion Sweets and a chocolate chip cookie from Zoe’s Kitchen.
After we finished eating I circled back to the silent auction to see if my bid was still the highest on the items I chose and bid again. We sat back down to hear Melissa Nelson, State Attorney, read poetry. Next, we heard an incredibly personal and moving poem written and recited by Kansas Williams, Rethreaded's Operation's Associate.
After drying our eyes from listening to Kansas powerful poem, we watched Rethreaded's new short film Renew: To Be Made Strong Again. It was an incredible transition into listening to the next set of speakers. Kristin Keen, Rethreaded Founder and President speak about the plans that they have for the future as a company. Jamie Rosseland, Rethreaded Assistant Marketing Manager, shared her story of renewal and hope. Jason Jones, Rethreaded Director of Operations, share the inspiring vision to hire 12 more women this year and what we will need to do in order to make that happen. It was such an emotional and inspiring night.
Then they called the winning number for the Champagne Raffle! We finished out the night dancing and drinking coffee from Social Grounds! I picked up my winnings from the Silent Auction and went home knowing that I had been a part of something meaningful and that I am now an advocate for freedom!
(To see more pictures. learn more about this event and see all the amazing sponsors click here.)
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I hope for you, love is in the air. As I start thinking about getting the perfect gift for my someone special this year, I started thinking about what it really means to love. How it is less than a feeling and more of an action. I reasoned that on a day that is supposed to represent love, I can express it in much more ways that one.
1. Make a Difference in Someone’s Life
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. I learned that just by changing where I buy my gifts from I can add value and substance into the life of a woman. When I shop at companies like Rethreaded, I know the mission and the purpose behind the company. I know that I am actively choosing to invest in women, that they are being offered economic empowerment through employment. Each product is handcrafted by a survivor who is receiving new life, and through my purchase, I get to be a part of it.
2. Share Hope
When I get to give a gift that has such a beautiful story, I also get to spread a message of hope. It holds so much more value that the gift I’m giving will still mean something past next week, it’ll be something I know will be cherished because it changed someone’s life. Some of the products at Rethreaded are made in Jacksonville, others in places like India and Cambodia. Each one is special and holds so much value. It is like a break in the far too often negative messages we each receive each day.
3. Give a Beautiful Gift
With the gifts I buy at Rethreaded I am making a difference in someone’s life, I am sharing hope, but I am also giving the person I love a really beautiful gift. When I buy a purse like the City Bag, I know that a person stitched the seams when I buy an Infinity Necklace a woman molded the metal when I buy a Grace Scarf a woman wound the wrap, and I know that it was all done with the utmost care. Each gift is unique and handcrafted, and I know it will wow them!
So with one act, I can express love in three ways. I can shop for freedom, hope and love.
Shop our Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for great gift ideas.