Conscious Business tackles Hunger with Fashion

By Jacob Devaney on Tuesday April 21st, 2015


What if there was an organic clothing line that fed meals to the needy while supporting the local economy?

Look no further! Fed By Threads flourished from a simple idea to start an apparel line for a dance studio into a blossoming social entrepreneurship project that is feeding 1000’s of meals to hungry Americans. Founded by Alok Appadurai and Jade Beall Fed by Threads is an exemplary model of conscious business with a focus on art and community. Locally-sourced organic cotton and production, a healthy message, body-positive appeal and 12 meals delivered with the purchase of each garment is enough to make anyone reconsider the predominant business model.

It’s no surprise that this business would sprout up in Tucson, a city filled with diverse cultural influences in the mystical Sonoran Desert. As hosts to a weekly African Drum and Dance Workshops, the two are well-rooted in the importance of community, celebration, and culture.
Alok formerly ran clean energy companies focusing on waste-to-energy and has been keenly interested in social entrepreneurship projects like Tom’s Shoes which eventually became the inspiration for Fed By Threads. Alok realized that there was no store that only carried American-made clothing brands using sustainable fabrics. So Fed By Threads has morphed into the first multi-brand American-made sustainable clothing store boasting 12 meals to hungry Americans per item sold.
Jade is best known for her photography. Having appeared on The Today Show for her Beautiful Body Project and book, The Bodies of Mothers, she understands the need for body-positive clothing as well as community-positive business. Her work focuses on supporting women to see their authentic beauty, without airbrushing or other tools to hide behind. See her Ted Talk here.

The Bodies of Mothers book
The Bodies of Mothers book


By supporting small producers of clothing from around the country, they are keeping jobs in the local economy and supporting sustainable agriculture. This “farm to garment” approach is mindful of the toxic effects of traditional textiles, and refuses to outsource labor to third world sweat-shops. By adding the socially responsible practice of donating a percentage of each sale to feed those in need, they are revisiting the power of commerce for social responsibility. When business owners think critically and creatively about the life-cycle of their products, they are able to assert radical changes in the market.

Supporting businesses like this, and telling your friends about this kind of model can challenge larger retailers to up their game. What if Walmart, or Target adopted a similar model? Capitalism has been under fire for it’s contribution to environmental degradation, and economic disparity. Does it need to be this way? Fed by Threads says, “no, there is a better way!”

Fed by Threads founders
Alok Appadurai and Jade Beall – Fed by Threads founders

They are now offering a service to other organizations and businesses who may want to get in on the action. By offering custom printed t-shirts, anyone can support sustainable garment production and help to feed people in need. Being able to include this in the description of your product is a great selling point especially if you are trying to target people who are committed to making a positive difference in the world.

This is only one particular business model, there are many out there. If you know of others that you love, please share below. Let’s elevate this conversation about socially-conscious businesses that promote and support sustainable practices so that the larger companies take note. There are many creative solutions to our current problems, all it takes is a conscious decision to do things differently. It’s time to feed the body, mind, and spirit with a little inspiration and a lot of love.


How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

Jacob Devaney

Founder and director of Culture Collective, creative activist, musician, and producer.



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