281. Common Thread co-operative: Sewing with a purpose

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Coop Name: Common Thread N° of Employees: 25
City: Vancouver N° of Members: 7
Country: Canada Year of formation: 2006
Website: http://www.commonthreadcoop.ca
Facebook: Link
About this coop:

Common Thread is a non-profit cooperative that enables social enterprise sewers to re-purpose street banners and other fabric into beautiful and useful products. We are a social enterprise: a business with a primarily social purpose. Common Thread’s main social purpose is creating employment. We provide sewing training and production coaching for newcomers to Canada, people living with mental illness and others who thrive in our flexible work environment. Our secondary purpose is environmental: We reclaim street banner material that would otherwise go to the landfill.

Common Thread is a group of sewing co-operatives that give participants the chance to build confidence, earn a decent income and participate more strongly in their communities – one stitch at a time. The not-for-profit group’s goal is to provide a flexible workplace for people with barriers to employment, like Fatemah Hasani, a new immigrant from Iran.

Born in Iraq and raised in Afghanistan, Fatemah moved to Iran with her family when she was 11. She lived there unitl 2005, when she and her five children moved to Canada. The single mother arrived in Vancouver with no job and no money. Once her support from Canada’s new immigrant program ran out, Fatemah began working in convenience stores. When she was feeling disappointed and unable to provide for her family, Fatemah heard about the Common Thread co-operative. She placed a call in 2009 and has been an integral and reliable member of the group’s production network ever since.

“Fatemah is always ready to lend a hand or offer encouragement to new sewers, making the work site a better place for everyone,” says Melanie Conn, a manager at Common Thread.

Besides catering to communities that lack employment support, Common Thread is an environmentally sustainable business. Every product is made of repurposed street banners, preventing them from reaching the landfill.

For more stories about co-operatives in Canada, visit s.coop/IYCspotlight

Author of this story
Canadian Co-operative Association
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