Jacksonville-based nonprofit Rethreaded is getting some national exposure with an appearance this week on the TV show Project Runway.
Rethreaded founder Kristin Keen said the appearance on the popular fashion-design program launched a line of leather accessories, which is a partnership with Southwest Airlines’ Project Loveseat.
“This relationship with Southwest Airlines has been super-important to us. The national exposure… I mean the more awareness that’s out, the more product we sell, the more women we help. I mean that’s the bottom line,” said Keen.
Rethreaded provides human trafficking survivors with mental health services and long term employment.
And now, Keen said, that employment includes turning old leather seat covers donated by Southwest Airlines into original creations inspired by Wednesday’s Unconventional Materials episode of Project Runway All Stars.
“We have a beautiful red clutch. We have a matching ID holder that goes inside the purse. We have another purse that’s actually a beautiful barrel bag with a matching make-up case that goes inside it. And then we have travel accessories like a cord dispenser, the ID holder. And we have a brand new bracelet that goes along with the line,” Keen said.
Rethreaded currently employs 15 women with nine more on a waiting list.
The new product line debuts Saturday at the Rethreaded store at 803 Barnett Street in Jacksonville’s Newtown neighborhood.
Rethreaded is also working with the University of North Florida’s Department of Art and Design’s sculpture program for a “Rethreaded: Flight” exhibit at UNF’s Lufrano Intercultural Gallery. The opening reception, including a performance from the UNF Treble Choir, takes place 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 24; the exhibit will run through Friday, March 8.
It will feature a large, steel birdcage with stained-glass bars standing empty with the door open. The cage will be illuminated to cast shadows around the Gallery. Many colorful cloth birds which have “escaped” the cage will decorate the gallery space. The piece represents freedom and references Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The birds and cage were designed by Jenny Hager, sculpture professor, and her Art and Design students.
The installation is meant to bring attention to Rethreaded during Human Trafficking Awareness Month.