This story, like so many others, starts with a relationship. It was in 2001 when Leigh & Eric Fleet met in high school and from the beginning, it was clear that they shared many common interests…which was probably a little shocking to the both of them, as Eric is a self-proclaimed "Jersey guy" (not totally "Jersey", but close enough) and her being a nice southern girl from Virginia. They shared a love for great food, fashion, culture, nature, traveling, the importance of family and friends...but in addition to those interests, they also shared an acute awareness and passion for humanitarian principles. They were concerned with the meaningless loss of life in Darfur, a call for war rather than peace...and while they were both fairly big consumers, they were concerned about a growing consumerism attitude that seemed to completely disregard its impact on our planet. As their relationship grew throughout their college years, Leigh and Eric became increasingly passionate about the inherent obligation they had to be positive citizens of the world.
During their senior year, they started thinking about how they could make a difference and ways to make caring cool. One morning, Leigh woke up with an idea that she shared with Eric over breakfast…why not create a line of graphic t-shirts using sustainable materials with graphics inspired by issues that they cared deeply about? It was a great idea and so they started forming the concept for what would become Threads 4 Thought.
They started to sketch out all different ideas for what the initial line of t-shirts would be. They hired a graphic artist to help them create the first series of graphics and refine their ideas. The graphics featured all kinds of messages … the continent of Africa filled with interlocked hands representing unity, Africa spray painted on a shirt, a dripping earth with the phrase “killin is softly” and a graphic that spelled out “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in 12 different languages.
They found a factory in LA, made their initial set of samples and took them to fashion trade shows around the country. Thanks to some great celebrity support at the outset (big thank you to Don Cheadle, Jamie Foxx and Gavin Rossdale … all of whom wore some of their very first t-shirts) they were able to get the tees placed in some of the best stores in the country. Not far behind was Urban Outfitters, who was the first national retailer to carry the brand (another thank you!).
With some wind in their sails, what began as a small business manufacturing and marketing sustainably produced, cause-driven graphic tee shirts has now grown into a complete lifestyle brand. The mission for Threads 4 Thought was to create great fashion that evoked a lifestyle of shared responsibility for each other and the world. They continue to work towards that mission every day … using sustainable materials to make their products, working with factories that respect their employees and treat them humanely and fairly. They are honored to work closely with two highly effective charities that we have worked with since we founded the Threads - the International Rescue Committee (the IRC) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).