As I was cleaning up MailChimp’s swag inventory, I noticed a spreadsheet tab called “Discontinued Items” with more than 1500 of our grey Freddie t-shirts in two sizes: unisex XXL and women’s medium. I asked around, and it became clear that a) there was no plan for the shirts, and b) no one even knew they were in storage.
Oof. I needed to get them out of inventory, but in a unique way.
Asking around, a colleague eventually put me in touch with Lisa Wise, the Executive Director of re:loom. It’s a program created by Atlanta’s Initiative for Affordable Housing that hires adults who are struggling to secure and maintain jobs and trains them to be weavers. The weavers design and produce handmade products out of all kinds of donated materials including plastic grocery bags, bedsheets, denim, and, of course, t-shirts. They can create anything from billfolds to area rugs.
Incidentally, MailChimp’s office is relocating soon, and an area rug made out of old Freddie tees sounded like the perfect piece to bring into a brand new space.
The shirts have to be cut into what the re:loom staff calls “hulas,” then wound into balls like yarn before they can be woven. A group of employees loaded their cars with 1000 of the shirts and drove them to the re:loom Weavehouse to meet the weavers and help with some of the initial shirt slicing.
A few weeks later, Damber, one of the re:loom weavers, completed our rug. We love how sketch Freddie turned into a lovely black abstract pattern. We’ve already unrolled it several times just to admire it! And yes, one time so I could wrap myself up like a burrito.
Lisa Wise, Executive Director of re:loom