Rethreaded provides a second chance at life through employment for survivors of human trafficking. Women have employment opportunities in different facets of the company, including production, inventory, sales, marketing and finance/admin. Through its own enterprise and its distribution company that partners with like-minded businesses, Rethreaded’s mission is to renew hope, reignite dreams, and release potential for survivors of human trafficking locally and globally through business.
Human trafficking is a $150 billion global industry and a form of modern-day slavery that subjects women, children, and men to force, fraud, and coercion for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor. More than 90% of women in the industry want to leave it but lack access to resources and employment that would enable them to do so. Kristin Keen, Rethreaded’s founder, learned these facts from firsthand experience as she formed relationships with imprisoned women and with women on the street. She realized that the greatest need was for a safe, supportive work environment where the women could earn money while learning a skill and experiencing continued healing through community.
Working in partnership with the City Rescue Mission of Jacksonville, Rethreaded hired its first full-time employee in November 2012.
Rethreaded produces and sells goods handcrafted by survivors, from jewelry and accessories to leather purses and home decor and pet products. While survivors assist with the production of these beautiful products, they also find employment within Rethreaded in inventory, sales, marketing, and finance and administration.
In Jacksonville alone, Rethreaded has helped over 46 women survivors of human trafficking and provided over 65,000 hours of work. And their formula is strong; 85% of those who come to Rethreaded never return to the trade. Further afield, and thanks to Rethreaded’s Freedom Business Partners—like-minded businesses across the globe—the company has helped over 4,000 women.
Rethreaded’s products are as beautiful as its mission, adding even greater value for those who support the business with their purchases. In a recent partnership with Southwest Airlines®, Rethreaded created handbags and jewelry from the recycled leather of retired Southwest Airlines® seat covers. Through its corporate line, Gifts of Hope, companies can purchase gift boxes or customize their own. The boxes include coffee and mugs, leather goods (from handbags to journals), and foodstuffs like salsa, soup mixes, and specialty spices.
Products included in the Gifts of Hope line are often from Rethreaded’s Freedom Business Partners, organizations all over the world whose missions align with Rethreaded’s. Purpose Jewelry in Mumbai and Orange County, JOYN in Rajpur, Rahab’s Rope in Bangalore, Sari Bari in Kolkata, Sak Saum in Cambodia, Badala in East Africa, Nica Life in Nicaragua, Fashionable in Ethiopia and Nashville, and Basha in Bangladesh are Rethreaded’s partners abroad. American partners include Thistle Farms in Nashville, Women’s Bean Project in Denver, and Social Grounds, which is also in Jacksonville.
Community partners include Southwest Airlines, Stein Mart, Health Designs, RF-Smart, Continuwell, Fetner & Hartigan, Edwards & Cavendish, Advos, Load King, Jacksonville Dance Theatre, and Jesse & Lex Wedding Co.
“A common assumption is that once a survivor of human trafficking is freed from that lifestyle, they can move on and begin to rebuild their lives immediately. All too often we come to realize that is not completely true and is harder than it seems,” says Renata Bryan, Rethreaded’s Finance and Administration Lead, who is a human trafficking survivor.
Employment with Rethreaded is often the first step for women working to rebuild their lives, while Rethreaded’s community partnerships help its employees cross other bridges, giving them what they need to transition fully into a new life.