Where: Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Why we love Rethreaded:
Rethreaded is a fashion and gift store, dedicated to repairing not only the clothes they “upcycle”, but also the lives of their employees. After successfully starting her first not-for-profit in India, Kristin Keen returned to Jacksonville in 2012 fueled by passion and experience to change the world. Unlike many, whose dreams of goodwill stay in hypothetical form, Kristin has turned hers into a reality by starting and successfully running another thriving not-for-profit business. She does a much better job of explaining all the wonderful things Rethreaded does, though like the hero she is, she’s incredibly humble about it all. We couldn’t be more amazed by how driven and talented she is, so it shouldn’t be hard to understand why we love her work.
How did Rethreaded get started?
I lived and worked for five years in Kolkata, India, encountering the life-stealing effects of the area’s sex trade on a daily basis. Together with a friend Sarah Lance, I helped co-found a business that could offer these women a safe haven. Today, Sari Bari is a thriving business that employs more than 75 people in Kolkata who create beautiful handmade blankets and other products from traditional fabrics.
Upon my return to Jacksonville, I felt called to fight the sex trade on a local level, and Rethreaded was born. Beginning by forming relationships with women on the street and making prison visits, I knew the biggest need was for a safe, supportive work environment where these women could earn money while learning a skill and experiencing continued healing through community. Working in partnership with the City Rescue Mission, Rethreaded hired its first full-time employee in November 2012.
What is the vision for Rethreaded and how are you making the magic happen?
Rethreaded loves people affected by the sex trade by fostering relationship and life-giving community. Our vision is to unravel the effects of the sex trade by fighting business with business on a global and local level, whether it takes the form of human trafficking, prostitution, pornography or strip clubs. This multibillion dollar industry is founded on the exploitation of mostly women and children. As an organization we want to provide safe, viable, and dignity-giving work to survivors of the sex trade. We’ve had 11 women who we have directly affected here in Jacksonville through our business. Locally, Rethreaded provides a 3 month training program for women in the Jacksonville, Florida area who are coming out of lives of addiction, violence, human trafficking, and prostitution. Many of these women leave prison with felony records, creating significant challenges to employment. Rethreaded is a safe place where women are paid a living wage to become artisan seamstresses and “upcycle” donated t-shirts into new creations for sale. Rethreaded also operates as a distribution company that sells products made by women from all over the world who have found freedom from the sex trade. We sell these products at our warehouse, local events, seasonal home parties, and online. Through our import company we affect the lives of over 2,000 women all over the world.
What brought you and Vend together?
We are a very unique business in many ways. We sell a majority of our sales through home parties and at events around the city. Therefore we needed a cloud based point-of-sale and inventory system that could be used at multiple locations and had the ability to interact with QuickBooks Online. We are always on the go and we needed a system that could keep up with our busy culture here at Rethreaded. Honestly, my personal favorite feature of Vend is the ability to use the scan gun. I mean, who doesn’t love using it? The scan gun also makes us so efficient at checking customers out and reduces user error. We also now love how detailed we can keep track of inventory. We have over 50 varieties of our best selling Grace Scarf and now are able to track exactly what is selling. It helps drive our production as well as allows us to have a really accurate sales history.
Where does you passion come from for what you do?
At Rethreaded we believe everyone has worth and value. When you know your value you are able to change the world. At Rethreaded we are using business to change the world – specifically women coming out of addiction, prostitution, and human trafficking. We want to break the cycle of the sex trade by giving women a way to leave it behind and by preventing girls from ever entering the sex trade. Needless to say, I am very, very motivated. I did go through a time in my life where I didn’t know my worth and value and that lead me to some dark places. I decided when I came out on the other side that I never wanted another to feel what I felt. That is my motivation now. I am passionate about people knowing who they are created to be and living life to their fullest. The most common thing I hear from our employees after they have been at Rethreaded for a bit is “I am capable”.
Lastly, what would be your words of wisdom to new retailers?
Being in business on my own for two years has taught me a lot. The best advice I could start with would be to believe in your vision and product. You will meet lots of doubters, advice givers, and enthusiasts, but remember that only you carry the vision for the company and product. With that said, be open for help and advice when you need help – surround yourself with people who you trust. You can’t do this alone. Get connected with the Small Business Development Center in your community. Take vacations. Have hobbies. Remember that starting something new means you will have extreme highs and lows. Dream big, but have a real plan to get there. Be willing to change your plan if needed. Fail fast. Get back up. Learn from it and then go out and kick some ass! You can do more than you think you can but you will need help. Know what you are good at, do those things, and find a team to fill in your gaps. Smile. Have fun. Even though it’s hard you know you wouldn’t trade it for anything.
– Kristin Keen, Founder / All Around Heroine, Rethreaded
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About Grace O'Hara
Grace is a Marketing Assistant at Vend and helps make cool things happen behind the scenes. She enjoys talking to incredible Vend retailers from around the world and making the world a better place with her side projects. You can get in touch with Grace by email or connect with her on Google+.