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Herding Cats

How’s the saying go? You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose…but you really shouldn’t pick your friend’s nose.

This reminds me a lot of Thread.

We’re hiring, which is great and exciting and stupendous, but I have to tell you, also the most challenging thing I’ve had to do as a CEO. Here’s why:

Imagine, if you will, a herd of cats pulling a sled through the snow….


You can’t right? That’s because it’s ridiculous to even let your mind wander to a place that allows for Felis catus to assemble themselves into a sleek, organized, all-for-one-and-one-for-all style Iditarod-winning team. Getting a cat to do what you want is akin to getting a rock to do what you want. You can coach, you can prod, you can yell and scream, but in the end, you just sound like an idiot. Cats- and rocks- do what they want.

The Threadheads are, in a word, feline.

They fight. They can be snippy and choosy and generally bad at fetch. Their moods can turn on a dime, and you just never know where you stand. Sure, they’re not big on tuna or saucers of milk, but really, everything else tells me I have a clowder of tabbies (yep, it’s called a clowder, I thought that was weird too) on my hands.

I also know we’re positively kicking the milkbones out of the other teams in the race. Somehow, this crew of garrulous, gregarious grimalkins (best synonym for “cat” ever) works. Not just works, performs. Not just performs, but in an industry dominated by old dogs, they are Shere Khan. They are Mufasa. They are nerdier than me, I promise. The point is, they’re doing great, so great that we’re growing. We just brought on three new Threadheads, and have aims to bring on several more this year. All of them are relative strangers, and brand new to our team.

Five content cats, and I just brought home a litter of puppies.

How do you introduce three brand-new enthusiastic, earnest, creative, hard-working personalities into a team that has become such a comfortable, close-knit, personal group? Let’s be serious for a moment, I would never let any of my friends pick my nose, but if there was a group I’d allow, the Thread team would make the short list (you were wondering how I was going to bring that one back around, weren’t you?). We’re close. We’ve struggled with seemingly Sisyphean tasks. We’ve moved millions of pounds of trash and turned some of it into fabric, and somehow convinced brands we’ve loved for years to start making their clothes and their shoes and their bags with garbage from the poorest communities in the world. We’ve raised over 3.5 Million dollars, and we did it while everybody told us we should consider something more “monetized”. This crew has STRUGGLED together. And I’m about to mess that up. On purpose. With Labradors. For what?

“Dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

Call me a sucker or old-fashioned or both, but I still believe that behind every great team is a greater purpose. The why of what we do at Thread is what makes the how possible. We come to work everyday because we believe that poverty is a disease, ending it is possible by the time we have grandchildren, and the cure are decent, dignified jobs. We come to work because we believe that things we wear everyday can and should be better. We come to work because we believe that good businesses can change the world. Every cat who works at Thread believes these things too, and with our eyes fixed on that prize, it’s impossible not to walk in the same direction.

We may do what we want, but damnit if we’re not doing it together.

Please, join me in welcoming the newest Threadheads:

Ben Pawsey – Director of Client Services
Dan Leber – Production Manager
Richardson Antoine – Haiti Field Manager



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