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What’s in a name?

In which our COO, Lee Kimball, explains the complex process of naming our company.


 In the beginning, there was THREAD.

Actually, this part is before I was involved, so it’s hearsay and conjecture, but I’ll allow it. Anyway, in 2011, Ian went to Haiti to look into this crazy idea that:


And, naturally, being Ian (you’ll have to Google him, he won’t let me post any links here), he avoided stealth mode like the Tasmanian Devil in a mosh pit, and immediately got press for this new ‘company’ he started (he was working in PR, after all).

I use quotes because no company actually existed on paper.  But, as Business News Daily and the Christian Science Monitor will tell you, THREAD was an acronym for The Haitian REdevelopment Directive.  The PR firm he worked for was also a marketing firm, which I suppose deputized Ian to take creative license with acronyms as a precise science (go ahead… try to find the A after the E).  Also… it’s pretty obvious we just liked the name “Thread” and half-assed our way backwards into a forced acronym, right? Right.

So “THREAD” was born… because when the media says it’s a thing… it’s a thing.


Here’s about when I jumped on board.  We quickly realized (like…the day after publication) that we hated the acronym.  We banished the all-caps for eternity and disavowed that it was ever an acronym for anything.

But it wouldn’t die.

Press for a year and a half kept capitalizing the whole name and talking about the Redevelopment Directive we never mentioned (obviously Googling the original article as ‘background’).

Making it Legal.


Enter our first (and current) attorneys:

Attorney: “You can’t name it Thread, that’s too common of a word, especially in textiles…Dummies.”

Us: “Nuh- uh.  It’s about connecting people, not just fabric. Dummies”

Attorney: “Ugh, fine.  But you’re an LLC, so it’s Thread LLC.”

Us: “Ugh, fine, at least it’s not THREAD.  What could go wrong?”

Every Haitian I’ve ever met: “You work for Fred?  Who is Fred? I want to meet Fred.”

Every American I meet:  “Huh?  Say that again? Tread?” (Incidentally, I’m a soft talker.)

See Also: Threads.

The Domain Game.


OK, so we have a name, Thread LLC.  Now we need a website that isn’t a quick pre-fab MobileMe site on Frank’s Apple account. would have been awesome, no?  No.  It was for sale for $30,000 and we had $1,000 in the bank.  And Lee was is frugal cheap and had the only checkbook. was $36 (for 3 years) and, according to Lee, makes us sound big and trustworthy.  Not many Threadheads around the table really agreed, but my persuasive persistence, my SpeechComm minor, and lack of a generally better idea won out, and we bought the URL.

“What’s the harm in a different URL than your name?,” you ask?

“Lots of frustration.” I answer.

EVERYONE thinks our company is Thread International, Thread International LLC, or Threads International (because in Pittsburgh they add ‘S’ to things like Nordstroms). Not just strangers, but people we know well and talk to every day.  We’ve had to ask at least ½ dozen reporters to change the online version of stories to reflect the proper name, Thread (in case you forgot) and, after about a 2 years, stopped correcting people in polite conversation.

Cake Wars.


Oh, and somewhere in the timeline, we were TREAD for about a week. You see…we made a cake of an infographic (Full disclosure: it was to ingratiate ourselves to pitch competition judges. It did not work. Possibly backfired, as it continued our streak of coming in second for everything.).

Kelsey, our Director of Impact, magnanimously had it made, and accidentally dropped our H, so the cake actually said “from TREAD.”  PA state law is silent on whether baked goods and pastries constitute legal documents. 


Which brings us to modern day. Thread LLC, has recently been invested in by Venture Capital. LLC’s aren’t a great investment vehicle for VC’s, so we converted to a corporation at closing.

BUT… we are a proud B Corp, so we took the extra step and became one of the first VC-backed Benefit Corporations, solidifying our mission into our Delaware Articles of Incorporation. To that end, we tried to incorporate as Thread PBC (Public Benefit Corporation).

BUT… it was flagged by the State, so the attorneys amended it and applied as Thread International PBC (yes, including the ‘International‘ that has caused me many a grey hair combating).

BUT… Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize “PBC” as a designator yet (even though they DO recognize Benefit Corps!). We had to add “Inc.”


SO… ladies and gentlemen, I present to you new our legal name, that you shall never see unless we bill you for something, Thread International PBC, Inc. dba (doing business as)….  Thread.

There it is, an 840-word essay to tell you what you already knew: Our name is Thread.

Sort of.


(Well, it’s actually Leo, but social security and taxes still say Lee… but my passport says Leo… noticing a trend?)


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