Generation E: Kristin Keen of Rethreaded

A series featuring young entrepreneurs and the faith that pushes them forward

by Robin Tierney

Kristin Keen is the founder and president of Rethreaded, an enterprise that works to break the cycle of the sex trade—prostitution and human trafficking—on a global and local level by offering viable and safe ways to make a living.

"My faith is what has sustained me through the years," explains Keen. "I have walked alongside women in some heart-wrenching circumstances that made me question not only the goodness of humanity but also of God. Jesus walked me through those hard seasons and taught me how he never leaves or forsakes us, not even in the darkest of circumstances."

1Rethreaded courtesy shot 1

Rethreaded "upcycles" old t-shirts into scarves and bracelets.

During a three-month training period, survivor-employees learn job skills. They earn living wages as artisan seamstresses who upcycle donated t-shirts into merchandise such as hand-dyed Grace Scarves, Freedom Bands, and Threads for Hope. Goods are sold at Rethreaded's Jacksonville, Florida, store as well as at festivals, at home parties, and online. Domestically, Rethreaded has directly helped 13 women through providing jobs in the Jacksonville area. The company also sells items made worldwide through its import company and has so far helped 2,200 women.

The organization aims to restore faith in oneself and God. Its webpage notes: "We humbly try to follow His perfect example of what perfect love tangibly looks like in a very messy world." 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 "is our verse," says Keen. "We can have the most successful business in the world, but if we are not grounded in love then we have gained nothing—we are just a clanging cymbal in the world of nonprofits."

At Rethreaded, Keen says, "people can become who they were created to be…and learn what special gifts they possess that can change the world."

In 2013, Rethreaded took the top award at One Spark, Jacksonville's fast-growing crowdfunding festival.

Robin Tierney, an award-winning arts and outdoors writer based in the South, can be reached at tierney_art@yahoo.com.

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