Rethreaded: Giving Women a Second Chance
By Cassidy Alexander, Alex Lassen
Kristin Keen never thought she would be running a business, but when she found herself in Calcutta, India— working with women in the red light district— she was inspired to help.
“There was no way out,” she said, of the women working there.
After spending several years in India, Keen returned to Jacksonville and found the same problems in our city. Her solution? Start a business. Here, she began Rethreaded in order to help empower victims of the sex trade.
“When people say the word slavery, we think of the 1800s and we think of Abraham Lincoln and everything he did to abolish slavery, but it still exists,” said Haley Wright, a program specialist.
The decision to start Rethreaded and help empower women was a personal one for Keen.
“It all started with me in my own life,” Keen said. “[I] went through a period of time where I feel like I didn’t know my own worth and value, and I had some not so great experiences with sex, and I never ever want another woman to feel that way. So I said I’m going to take what you feel is your greatest shame and I’m going to use it to change the world.”
Employees at Rethreaded create their products through the donations of old t-shirts, scarves and jewelry. While they sell products, like a normal business, their main goal isn’t just to profit.
“Our bottom line is seeing survivors thrive,” Keen said. “And normal businesses don’t operate that way.”
Rethreaded has been thriving for five years now. Keen hopes to see her company expand to employ over 100 survivors in the next ten years. Part of the plan to expand includes getting corporations to buy their products.
“The more sales that we have the more women we can hire,” Keen explains. “That’s really what fuels our business. It’s essentially like every other business — supply and demand. So when have these big corporations that need 10,000 of a product to gift or to giveaway or promo items or whichever, you know that’s 10 more women that we can hire to employ to make these products.”
Rethreaded is located at 820 Barnett Street in Downtown Jacksonville.