Opportunity Threads

Opportunity Threads

Opportunity Threads is paving the way with environmentally friendly production methods in Southern Appalachia’s traditional textile region. The worker-owned co-op focuses on fair labor, the dignity of workers, and sustainable environmental practices.

Opportunity Threads (OT) is a worker-owned cut and sew cooperative in rural Western North Carolina. As textiles left many southern communities in the late 1990’s, so did manufacturing and employment opportunities. This has required new ideas in the textile industry, and Opportunity Threads is a part of this movement.

Molly Hemstreet, founder/general manager/and a worker-owner, describes how the support of CCHD has been instrumental due to a lack of funders who support worker-owned cooperatives. According to Hemstreet, there is a need for the industry to come back “in a different way,” with both profitability defined differently and a focus on community centeredness and sustainability. They have successfully grown a strong business in an important industry in North Carolina. OT says that, “We are tak­ing the pieces of a puz­zle we see in our strug­gling Appalachian com­mu­ni­ties and putting them together to cre­ate last­ing social change: advanc­ing skilled work­ers, reusing aban­doned man­u­fac­tur­ing space and restart­ing idle machines to pro­duce high qual­ity tex­tiles for a bur­geon­ing fair-trade, ‘green’ mar­ket.”

OT has a holistic approach and works for a triple bottom line with positive economic, environmental and social impacts for both clients and workers. OT is paving the way with an environmentally friendly method in Southern Appalachia’s traditional textile region. The worker-owned co-op focuses on sustainable production and uses organic cotton and reusable materials. OT strives to be a zero-waste facility. They describe how “this model of worker-ownership has the potential to change the lives of many workers, both native and immigrant, in our region as they build assets and hone skills.” Their emphasis on fair labor, the dignity of workers and sustainable environmental practices supports the renewal of textile work in southern Appalachia in a fair and just way, both for the community and the environment.

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