In my continued search for socially conscious businesses, my twitter friend Katy Heisterman pointed me in the direction of Fed by Threads, an apparel manufacturer that aims to help solve poverty related issues here in the US. When I found out the products were all US made, vegan clothing I took a step back; if you know me, you know that I can’t imagine living in a world without bacon. But the FedbyThreads products are so amazingly beautiful I fell in love with them, vegan or not.
When I saw their straight forward stance on social justice issues, my admiration grew.
Companies advocating social good often must tip toe through a minefield when, because it is rarely if, someone perceives a political agenda to their mission. I have often heard the criticism of the title of this series, Social Justice, because some think it carries with it too many political overtones for a business blog.
Fed by Threads is 100% fearless when describing its mission; their customers have zero doubt as to what they are all about.
The Mission of FedbyThreads
The Mission Statement on Fed by Threads’ website gets right to the heart of the company’s raison d’etre:
Fed By Threads set out to inspire change & get us back to the roots of what America stands for: generosity, community, feeding the hungry, and making real goods for our national economy. Let’s stop outsourcing jobs. Let’s stop destroying the environment. Let’s stop blaming the hungry for being hungry. We sacrifice profits to feed hungry Americans, revitalize U.S. garment manufacturing to create jobs, & use sustainable fabrics to protect our environment.
They also go so far as to outline their primary motivation:
In 2011 In America:
16.7 million children in America live in poverty in households that lack food security.
50.1 million Americans lived in food insecurity in 2010.
14.9% of households (17.9 million households) were food insecure.
The way that plays out in reality is that every time you buy a FedbyThreads item, your purchase provides 12 free meals to those in dire need.
The Founding of FedbyThreads
Jade Beall and Alok Appadurai founded and ran The Movement Shala, a yoga, dance and meditation studio in downtown Tuscon. The idea for FedbyThreads originated when they were looking for a t shirt for their dance studio; the partners were already very aware of the hunger and poverty facing their fellow Americans. They decided that for each item sold they wanted to cover the cost of 12 meals for the southern Arizona food banks.
Sales came quickly, and so did the questions. Consumers interested in making purchases for social good were also asking where the products were manufactured, how they were made, and were they sustainable? Beall and Appadurai had not come out of the apparel industry, and hadn’t initially considered sustainability to that degree. They spent 8 months in 2012 moving the manufacturing back to the US and ensuring that they were made of purely sustainable fabrics.
Fed by Threads Products
We’ve highlighted other companies on our Social Justice series that make well designed, fashionable and socially conscious goods, but we must admit that the Fed by Threads products are possibly the most irresistible ones we’ve found.
The components that make up the fabric are all highly sustainable, and are categorized as either recycled or organic:
Organic Cotton Fleece & more!
Recycled, Repurposed, & Up-Cycled:
Recycled Plastic Bottles (yes that’s right!)
Lyocell: Repurposed wood pulp that might have gone to waste
They have a line for Men, Women and Babies that include their custom, sustainable screen printed designs.
Fed by Threads products are all made in the USA, and the company pushes hard to get consumers to think about paying more, consuming less, and supporting manufacturing in the United States.
Fed by Threads’ social responsibility is founded on their 12 meals concept; for each item sold they will provide 12 emergency meals to those most in need. They explain how this works on their website:
How do we feed those 12 emergency meals?
- We donate $1 per item sold to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona which covers their costs to provide 4 emergency meals to hungry Americans
- We donate $1 per item sold to Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization with over 200 distribution points across the country to cover their costs to provide 8 emergency meals to hungry Americans.
There is nothing subtle about the company’s mission: their message of sustainability is all over their website, and when adding a product to your cart, you’ll be met with a statement of product facts similar to this one:
- Made in America
- 60% Soft Hemp/40% Organic Cotton Jersey
- 12 Meals Fed To Hungry Americans/Item Sold
- Vegan Materials
- Sweatshop Free
Fed by Threads on Social Media
The company’s blog is being used effectively; instead of a constant stream of posts for posts’ sake, the company is putting out content that its highly aware audience is interested in. My favorite?
The Fed by Threads Facebook Page has a decent following of over 6,500. It’s being updated regularly, although a small business like Fed by Threads will definitely be impacted by the newly admitted Pay to Play formula.
On Twitter, the Fed by Threads profile has far less followers, with under 500. Because the company’s home page does not feature their social media communities, consumers have to seek them out on the various profiles. I would expect their Twitter following to grow as there is a robust community for social responsibility thriving on the network; it’s where I found them.
As is so often the case with the small and growing social good companies we cover, there is a tremendous amount of potential for Fed by Threads on social media. Their story is ripe for sharing, and the company could do more to move that along. I think that it’s safe to assume that, while they grow rapidly, manpower is an issue.
Fed by Threads makes no bones about the fact that their goal is not to make the most inexpensive product around; they advocate instead for consumers to buy less but buy more wisely. Their message is resonating, and as we watch the rise of social good companies it will be interesting to follow their business models in regards to its own sustainability. How much potential does the socially conscious market have?
Each week we hear about countless new businesses flourishing with a socially conscious business model; we believe that this movement will continue to grow, and we’ll continue to highlight and follow up on businesses built with a social good component. If there is a company you’d like to see highlighted here, by all means, send them our way.
VP of Content & Strategy at ArCompany. She has an extensive background in Sales, and focuses on generational marketing and content. With Hessie Jones she founded ArCompany’s Millnnnial, GenX and Boomer Think Tanks and writes and speaks on those topics from an insights/strategy perspective.