Good Morning! I'm excited to be sharing a brand new cause based company: Threadwill! Though this startup is only two months old, It's already caught the attention of many ethical shoppers- maybe it's the vivid colors of the scarves, maybe it's the adorable baby chick pictures on instagram.... and it's definitely founder Jasmina's passion for empowering women and youth in Bosnia, a country still struggling to regain it's footing after being knocked down by war and unrest.
I interviewed Jasmina, to learn more about her company's mission and the story behind Threadwill's gorgeous scarf designs- make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for your chance to win a scarf!
Tell us a little bit about yourself- where you live, how long you've been working on Threadwill, and how you got started on it?
I’ve lived in Boston for almost 10 years now. I can’t even believe it’s been that long! I grew up in a slightly warmer place: South Florida J Threadwill is a bit of a departure from what I typically do. I’m an MIT engineer who has worked mostly in the skincare world – my current full time job is at a biotech startup focused on the skin (which I absolutely love).
Not sure what triggered me to go down this path, but something over the last year made me crave more information on anything having to do with social good. I wanted to learn about what was going on in the world and I wanted to contribute in a positive way. A big influencing piece was a book named “A Path Appears”. It’s a really inspiring look at how empowered we are today to solve problems, specifically because of technology and how much more connected we are across the globe. It also reinforces how simple things can make a huge difference for someone on the other side of the planet.
The idea for Threadwill started to take shape in the spring of last year. I started on my designs in the summer and launched in December. It took longer to get everything together, especially with a full time job, but I’m still thrilled with the outcome.
How does the Threadwill model work?
I collaborate with different non-profits for each project. The collaboration involves two parts: 1) I design scarves inspired by the region or work. 2) Each scarf purchased also funds a tangible item that helps the work the non-profit is doing.
I really wanted to focus on tangible items because I think perceptions around money are very confusing and impersonal. Donating $X usually doesn’t come with an understanding of how it’s used, and as a result, the “feel good” rush that comes with doing good is limited. With the tangible items I really want to close the feedback loop so that everyone involved is part of the journey and can start to shift their perspective on how small things have tremendous ability to impact someone’s life.
How do you develop the scarf designs- do they have any special meaning?
I’m so glad you asked this. There’s a lot that goes into it because there were a few important things I wanted to achieve with the designs:
First, is that they are hand-drawn. I draw all of the designs myself and the goal is to have them keep that hand-made look. It feels more organic, more down to earth, but most importantly, I wanted to reinforce the “human-touch” aspect that comes across so nicely with hand-drawn things.
Next, how I come up with the designs. I always want it to tie back to the cause, and be relevant to the region. Often I’ve found great inspiration from textiles from the specific areas. The textiles often have symbolic meaning that can support our goal really nicely. For example, our current project with the Balkans, I learned a lot about regional “cilim” textiles. There were two symbols I based my designs off of: “unison” and “tree of life”. I loved the message of togetherness, and growth.
The designs are then digitally printed onto the fabric I select. I make sure that it’s machine washable. (There’s nothing more frustrating than a pricey dry cleaning bill for a scarf!). Plus, it’s just more practical and resilient. The fabric is cut to an oversized dimension. I love large luxurious scarves with beautiful draping. The only way to achieve that is with lots of lovely fabric.
Tell us about the organization your company benefits, and why it's important to you:
We just launched with our first collaboration in December. The non-profit we partnered with is called BILD Bosnia. My family is from Bosnia, so I really wanted to start with something close to home. Because so much of my family is from there, and because I go back often, I’ve really seen how difficult it is for people to resume basic things after such a devastating war. The war was in the early 90s, and the region is still debilitated.
The youth are in a difficult position. At such a young age, they’ve already lost belief in the good of people. No one that young should have that helpless of a perspective. At that age, you need to think that the world is ahead of you, that you’re invincible, and that you can accomplish anything.
BILD Bosnia is working on several different fronts, which is really great because the solution is not singular. One of their efforts is for the youth for the reasons mentioned above, and one of the other big efforts is focused on supporting women. Women were very hard hit. Many of them lost husbands and sons during the war. Many of them still are not able to get jobs because of the religious tensions that still exist.
As the “maiden project” for Threadwill, I wanted to start with something that has had a lot of personal meaning for me, and I couldn’t have found a better group to partner with. The man leading the efforts for BILD Bosnia is Chris Bragdon has been such an inspiration to work with. He has the most incredible positive attitude. Plus, the level of compassion that has driven him for the last decade-plus is one of the most selfless things I’ve seen. It certainly hasn’t been easy for the group, but they’ve needed to persist for several years before the first indications of success started to show. That level of dedication is just really amazing to me. I can’t even imagine what the world would be like if people like that didn’t exist, but I have an inkling of what the world would be like if there were more of them.
Tell us a story of how Threadwill impacts people's lives
This collaboration funds 25 baby chicks with each scarf purchase. These 25 chicks are given to a woman as an additional source of income. These women were displaced from their homes during the war, and many have lost the primary income earner of their household as a result of the war.
These chicks give them financial flexibility, allowing them to be used to barter for other items and save money for the things they cannot barter for (like electricity). Of course, as the chicks grow into chickens, they grow in financial value as well. These 25 chicks can grow into a several hundred dollars of value for this woman and her family.