Rethreaded Helps Formerly Oppressed Women ‘Sew a New Story’
A nonprofit aiming to get women trapped in the sex trade off the streets and involved in meaningful work has turned to assessment training to help these exploited and oppressed individuals learn more about themselves before finding meaningful employment.Rethreaded, a four-year-old, Jacksonville, Florida-based social entrepreneurship, has to date directly helped 18 local women and provided over 10,000 hours of volunteer work to benefit the lives of women coming out of addiction, violence, human trafficking and prostitution get back on their feet and find jobs.
After the impacted women become clean, sober and stable for a minimum six months, the Christian-based nonprofit provides a four-month, on-the-job training program to them to learn important job skills and “help them sew a new story,” according to Rethreaded founder and president Kristin Keen.
Once the job training concludes, the women are then employed directly at Rethreaded. But because many have criminal records, creating some challenges for full-time outside employment, Rethreaded pays the women a living wage to become artisan seamstresses to create clothing that will eventually sell worldwide.
All sales come back directly to Rethreaded to give other women the same opportunities. According to Equality Now, an estimated 21 million women and children worldwide are bought and sold annually into commercial sexual servitude.
Despite Rethreaded’s number of success stories, Keen concedes the growing nonprofit has made some bad hires over the years and needed to develop a system that would map out new strategies moving forward.
Local business consultant Clare Dreyer made a connection with Keen in spring 2014 through the Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida.
The Talent Insights report was not only introduced to existing staff and the women they serve, but also implemented into hiring when Keen was filling positions for a chief operating officer, event coordinator, marketing director and intern.
“The DISC and Motivators training really helped in developing a roadmap to inventory existing employees, as well as identify where there were some strategic holes,” Dreyer said. “We wanted to find people who care about the cause and who care about what they’re doing every day.”
Dreyer said the Talent Insights results for the impacted women were eye opening and profound, as well as impactful in helping them to discover their strengths, talents and deficiencies.
“This is the first time many of them have discovered so much profound information about themselves,” she said. “Their self-esteem isn’t always the highest, so these assessment results really help them to rebuild their self-confidence and self-worth, and the belief that they really can provide value in the workplace.”
In addition, Dreyer created a communication checklist agreement for each of the participants, allowing them to pick up on critical communication dos and don’ts for one another.
“As people, I don’t think we always have the necessary tools to know how to interact and approach others,” Keen said. “I think that’s just human nature. People learn in different ways, and the assessment results and illustrative graphs gave us the practical skills and tools to do that.”
Keen credits the assessment training in helping to retain more employees and increase efficiencies. Because of Rethreaded’s continued growth, it now offers women five additional job tracks, including finance, marketing, sales, production and inventory, to help them find new careers beyond the textile trade.
For Dreyer, the opportunity to make a direct impact in the lives of so many women through donated assessments has been meaningful.
“It’s great to be a strategic partner, particularly with such an amazing cause,” she said. “The services Kristin and her team provide are just fantastic and much needed in the community.”
Lives Touched: 18