SustainU, Opportunity Threads and the Rebirth of American Textile Manufacturing

Companies Partner with Recycled Materials at Worker-Owned Cut and Sew in North Carolina

Molly Hemstreet has seen the up and downs of American manufacturing growing up in Morganton, North Carolina.

“Like many rural, North Carolina towns, our community was really decimated when the furniture and textile industries left,” said Molly Hemstreet, Co-founder and General Manager of Opportunity Threads. “But we saw this as an opportunity to rebuild and recapture the voice of the individual in the workplace.”

Founded in 2009, Opportunity Threads, is a full scale worker-owned, eco-textile cut and sew plant in the heart of South­ern Appalachia’s tra­di­tional tex­tile coun­try. “Most labor in Appalachia has tra­di­tion­ally been ten­u­ous and extrac­tive,” said Hemstreet, “We use a worker-ownership model to build assets, pay fair wages, and retain and grow cap­i­tal in our own local communities.”

Since 1994, the U.S. textile and apparel industry has lost over a million jobs to outsourcing according the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. The USDLS estimates that 25% of the remaining jobs will be lost this decade.

“We know how hard this sector has been hit. There are lots of people here in the U.S. who want to work and we are doing our best to make that possible,” said Yura. “When we discovered Opportunity Threads, and saw how the are empowering individual workers, we knew we had to find a way to do something together.”

“Partnerships with sustainability-driven companies like SustainU are key for our growth and rebuilding the manufacturing foundation of our country,” said Hemstreet. “And we are excited for the growing audience a company like SustainU provides for this new wave of American workmanship.”

Opportunity Threads is currently manufacturing 1000 units of the Alpha Wik performance shirt for SustainU.

“Our company is constantly looking for partners in our supply chain that share the same values that can also grow with our brand” says Yura.  “Opportunity Threads jumped out as being a quality cut and sew with an incredible story.”