Great things are always coming out of Jacksonville’s woodwork. If you take the time to explore the community, you’ll be quite surprised that many ingenious and proactive things are taking place, right here, right now — right before our very eyes.
Even as a Jacksonville native, I’m discovering new things everyday. One such discovery is Rethreaded, a local non-profit organization specializing in up-cycling old t-shirts into scarves and bracelets. Everything is created from scrapped material, a reason in itself to support the local business. But what the company offers its employees is by far the greatest reason. They provide a safe haven for victims of addiction, abuse, violence and human trafficking. Every new member is offered a four month long holistic training program where they learn to rehabilitate and “sew a new story.” During this program, they also learn to craft artisan creations from donated t-shirts that will later be sold to hire more employees. Additionally, Rethreaded distributes products made from other women across the globe from similar organizations like Sari Bari and Sak Saum. It’s a positive cycle that keeps on giving.
How Rethreaded Works
Until recently, Rethreaded has been setting up pop-up shops throughout town in places like Bold Bean and Driftwood. Now, however, Rethreaded has repurposed an old warehouse into their new retail space.
The grey building, located on 820 Barnett St., is at first unassuming. If I hadn’t known about it prior to my visit, I would have guessed it was any other industrial work space. But inside were arrays of colorful scarves, bangles, pillows and patchwork blankets. Ribbons of pink, green and teal fabric hung from the ceiling to create an inviting atmosphere for both employees and customers alike.
Later, when I’d spoken to Kirstin Keen, the founder and executive director of Rethreaded, she announced that the company has made the finalist round for Martha Stewart’s American Made, a program awarding small businesses geared to improving their local community and inspiring change. If chosen, Rethreaded could win $10,000 to help the organization grow even more. “I really think we could win,” Keen said. “It could be a game changer for us.”
Before I left, I picked up a few items from the new retail space: a few bracelets and their signature Grace scarf, which represents all that the company stands for. Multiple strands of t-shirt are bound together to form a unified bundle, much like how the company is about individuals working together as one. Rethreaded is more than just a new storefront in Jacksonville. I’d encourage anyone to make a stop at Rethreaded. If not for one of their Grace scarves or pillows, than to support the great creativity and innovation emanating from our city.