Rethreaded is a social entrepreneurship nestled in downtown Jacksonville that employs and trains survivors of the sex trade to sew artisan gifts and jewelry made from upcycled t-shirts. The company started, like most important things do, as a small idea in the mind of someone looking to create great change.
Owner Kristin Keen first started working to help women of the sex trade in India, where she co-founded a company that did similar work employing survivors to sew Sari blankets. After a few years there, she returned to Jacksonville to immediately start volunteering with Grace Ministry Helping Hands’ monthly outreach. With them, she saw the same trafficking issues along Philips Highway that she had just been combating in Kolkata’s red light district. With a lot of hard work and a huge heart for women to realize their worth and value, the idea for Rethreaded was born.
The sex trade includes prostitution, strip clubs, pornography, and human trafficking; anything that works to sexually exploit, devalue, and abuse women. It’s estimated to be a $32 Billion industry worldwide, and some of its victims live right here in our own Bold City. In nearly five years since their opening, Rethreaded has grown to a team of 14 employees that includes 6 survivors and has helped train and mentor 24 women locally, and 2,200 internationally. Offering career guidance in sales, leadership, production, marketing and inventory; their colorful little warehouse offers a viable and healthy work environment to the women in our community who need it the most. That environment represents a remarkably traditional workplace, with only slight benevolent differences from most other nine-to-fives including a morning devotion and a 2:30 “thankful huddle” to keep them focused on all they have to be grateful for.
“Each person brings a passion to fulfill whatever role they’ll need to fill that day, and each drop is so purposeful in moving our mission forward,” explains Rethreaded’s Marketing Assistant Jamie Rosseland. Of the changes she sees in the women who come in, her response flows with pride,” the way they identify with themselves changes completely, we get to watch as they become able to dream for themselves again.” The business recognizes the mental health and addiction needs of the survivors, and partners with local government funded organizations to give them the best odds for re-citizenship. “Once the women get to Rethreaded, they’ve already established sobriety and stability,” Jaime clarifies. “We’re not the place of healing; we’re the place of empowerment.”
When asked what Rethreaded needs most from the community, she gushes about the amount of support they already receive from donors, volunteers, and everyone who tells their story. “I just ask that the community be willing to think differently about what they know of human trafficking and prostitution. It’s a heart change our society has to make socially, and it won’t happen just from policy changes.”
To learn more about the business and the women behind it, visit their website rethreaded.com. You can support their cause by shopping their impressive products Monday-Thursday from 9 am- 5 pm at their store in downtown Jacksonville or on their website, attending one of their many events, and marking your calendar for their 5 Year Anniversary Party on August 6th. They also host open volunteer hours every Tuesday from 1 pm – 5 pm.
Written by Mara Strobel-Lanka.