It’s been a busy month so far for Pittsburgh’s Thread International.
In addition to announcing that a selection of Timberland bags and footwear made from Thread’s Ground to Good fabric will hit stores in Spring 2017, the start-up also started shipping yards and samples of its material to makers and small manufacturers.
“We tweaked our office space and our inventory process to make this possible,” Frank Macinsky, Thread’s director of marketing, told Sourcing Journal, adding, “We also put a plan in place for serving this new group of customers. It’s important that we’re not only able to ship our fabric to small manufacturers, but also have a support system in place to hear about the cool things people are doing with our fabric—and help share those stories with the world.”
Founded in the wake of 2010’s disastrous earthquake in Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Thread helps to create sustainable jobs for locals by enlisting them to collect discarded plastic products. Sorted recyclables are then sold to Haiti Recycling before being washed, shredded and shipped to production facilities in the U.S. to be spun into synthetic fiber that’s woven into fabric. The company also has operations in Honduras.
“A bunch of excellent, small, eager companies have been asking about small orders for a while. Sometimes they want to prototype and experiment. Other times, a company is looking to build a new product line or Kickstarter,” Macinsky shared. “The message was loud and clear: people want to make their products as responsible as possible. We saw the opportunity and worked hard to find ways to deliver fabric that also made sense for our business.”
That included focusing on the fabrics most often requested by customers—canvas, jersey and fleece. To that end, Thread has made six types of material in various weights and colors available for small orders (five yards is the minimum), but Macinsky said that will grow and evolve over the coming months. Swatch books are also available so customers can see the full catalog before they commit to purchasing yardage. Per-yard prices range from $8 for jersey to $15 for canvas.
“Wholesale pricing has the benefit of economies of scale, so it’s important to note that the cost for five yards of fabric can be very different than 50,000 yards,” Macinsky said, noting that brands interested in larger orders can reach out to Thread’s partnership team.
“Ultimately, we think that the ability to make the most responsible products possible shouldn’t be limited to the size of a business,” he continued. “The more we’re able to share our Ground to Good fabrics with brands, large and small, the greater the impact we’re able to have on places like Haiti and Honduras.”