he needlepoint belts, key chains and dog collars offered by Good Threads caught the eye of WAG’s editor in chief when she was attending The American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm in North Salem this past September.
The story behind these distinctive, 100 percent hand-stitched designs held her attention even longer, especially when keeping this issue’s theme in mind.
Good Threads, it turns out, works side by side with the Joan Rose Foundation (JRF) in Haiti to provide, as its handout card notes, employment to more than 150 men and women, donating a portion of each sale in the form of home-cooked meals to the children the foundation serves. One belt, for example, is equal to 15 meals.
Good Threads is often in WAG country, having previously exhibited at events held at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield, as well as at Fairfield University. In addition, it has exhibited at the Fairfield County Hunt Club in Westport, Woodway Country Club in Darien (where it returns Dec. 6) and in November, at the Rooms with a View 2018 interior design show in Southport. Through Dec. 24, Good Threads will be participating in the Union Square Holiday Market in Manhattan.
WAG was able to connect with David Palmer, who co-founded Good Threads in 2013 with his brother, Tim. A cell call from Haiti gave a look into the organization that is fueled by philanthropy.
Good Threads, a social business, supports the work of the nonprofit JRF, named in honor of the Palmers’ grandmother and founded in 2010 in the Dominican Republic where it began serving a few dozen children by providing nutrition, education and more. David Palmer quickly realized that employment for the parents of the children served would only strengthen the chance for consistency for the children.
With the population of the children served continuing to grow, Palmer began to investigate the production of needlepoint belts as a viable form of employment for the parents. Working with his brother, who has now gone on to serve in the military, Palmer formally launched Good Threads.
In 2015, due to unrest in the Dominican Republic, the foundation, Good Threads and its core families relocated to Jacmel, from where Palmer spoke with us.
He told us of growing up in suburban Detroit, going on to study political science in college and eventually ending up in the Dominican Republic.
He wasn’t, he shared, a “super-committed” student — “I just wanted to ski.”
Eventually, though, he settled down and began his path to giving back.
Working with the JRF, he realized that to make true progress, its reach had to go beyond the students it served.
“I look at it as an organism,” he said. “Poverty is a complex project.”
To make change, he said, “It has to be a multipronged approach.”
Good Threads helps families create income for their household, employing stitchers to create the needlepoint goods and paying them up to five times the average wage in Haiti for the work. As shared on its site, Good Threads also provides financial assistance for its employees’ emergency medical bills and other medical expenses, while the JRF provides funding for all of its children’s significant medical bills.
Palmer’s compassion extends beyond the workday. He and his wife have been caring for four children whose mother, a stitcher for the company, passed away. The adoption is set to be finalized soon, he said, adding that they look forward to bringing the family to visit the United States.
Today, the needlepoint products are sold online but also through events and retail outlets primarily in the Northeast, Midwest and deep South, Palmer said.
The company also offers custom work, “probably the biggest part of our business,” he added. Nautical flags can be customized, for example; hobbies or corporate logos can be incorporated into designs.
Looking ahead, Palmer said he sometimes struggles with “trying to be different than other needlepoint outfits out there,” but realizes he’s not “reinventing the wheel.”
Good Threads, he said, is instead distinguished by what’s behind its products.
“I can look someone in the eye and tell them our story.”
For more, visit goodthreadsllc.com.