By Gina Jacquart Thorsen, President
A few years ago, as we began to make plans for growth, we realized we needed to increase our sewing capacity. With only 5,000 people in our town and just about 15,000 in the county, it can be a challenge to find sewing machine operators in our area. So we went on a search to find other facilities and partners in the Midwest that could help us.
One of the organizations we happened on was St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, situated in the heart of Flint, Michigan. We immediately fell in love with their mission – to be a faith-based environment providing life skills, education and workplace training, empowering women and men to become self-sufficient. And even better, we found out they had an industrial sewing center!
Starting a new relationship like this takes time, and our journey with St. Luke’s started back in August 2015 – when Sister Carol (Director and Co-Founder of St. Luke’s), and six seamstresses spent a week at our factory.
At the end of April, I had the chance to visit St. Luke’s in Flint and see their work in action. It was so great to see that almost all of the women who visited us in 2015 were still working on our products.
The facility itself is an old church and school, which has been converted into an amazing facility, complete with food pantry, soup kitchen, classrooms, a daycare, exercise facility, library and more. The industrial sewing division is set up in the school’s former gym.
As I toured their facility, the pride I felt from the sewers overwhelmed me. They eagerly asked if I saw anything they could be doing more efficiently. They told me how much they loved one of our new plaids. They asked who the target market was for our new blaze orange button vest (coming soon). And most of all, they thanked me for sending the work to them in the first place.
It’s because of you – our amazing customers – that we have been able to create American jobs first in Ironwood and now in other places like Flint. Thank you for believing in our company, our people and our products.
(Wondering how to buy something made in Flint? This fall look for special hangtags on garments made at St. Luke’s.)