We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Kelly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
There are incredible factories in China and across the world just as much as there as sweatshops in America. The issue with ethical fashion is deeper than a location it is asking bigger questions, digging deeper into standards and ensuring that workers are supported everywhere.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
THR3EFOLD is a SaaS platform providing apparel brands with access to an ethical supply chain and training to grow their business for people, planet, and profit. Our platform accepts only ethically certified factories, empowering brands to choose the right factories, compare pricing, and manage their entire production process all in one place.
Our MASTERCLASS style courses then equip production teams with the business and sustainability knowledge they need to meet their goals and grow. We are the only platform with an American fashion industry market, offering global factories in the apparel sector. We are also one of the only platforms that vets factory standards, and has identified education as a key part of our customer’s problem. We believe this will enable us to secure the market.
I actually started THR3EFOLD as a marketing agency with a different idea and a giveback model and no one cared and to be honest, you don’t give back a lot when you aren’t making significant profit. So I went on a Research & Development trip to India to learn more about manufacturing and encountered incredible factories large and small doing things like employing women rescued out of sex trafficking, providing daycare for employee’s kids, and machines that dye denim with one glass of water. But they also all had terrible websites making them impossible to find. I returned back to NYC and began speaking to brands in the industry but I was not a tech person so I connected a few people manually but realized I needed to crowdfund to get the funds to develop the platform. Today we are launching into beta in June and couldn’t be more excited for the excellent factories who have joined our platform and we can’t wait to bring the fashion industry their way.
This has been the most difficult endeavor of my life. I’ve sacrificed a promising career and took smaller jobs that would allow me to still live but focus all my energy on THR3EFOLD. Even then it’s been a long journey of 6 years figuring out the right idea, learning, pivoting, and pressing on. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, especially if you don’t come from money but it is possible if you persevere.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow, well a week in NYC is quite an overwhelming itinerary and greatly depends on the friend and if they’ve never been to NYC before or not. Major call outs would be: The Whitney museum followed by Happy Hour at the Highlands in West Village followed by dinner at Extra Virgin (outside seating). Tour the 9/11 memorial/museum and the rooftop of the Freedom Tower. Dinner (preferably Thai) in Hell’s Kitchen followed by a Broadway show and Times Square after. Long walk through Central Park with a black coffee from Joe on Upper West Side. Walk to Bethesda Fountain, Brunch/lunch (depending on day) at the Boathouse then walk over to the Met Museum for lunch. If it’s summer, a whole Saturday on Governor’s Island, nap in the hammock garden, bike around the island, lunch at the beer garden. Brunch at Sadelle’s in SoHo followed by shopping as we head north to my favorite thrift stores in NYC for great finds Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange in Chelsea. Then lunch at La Pecora Bianca and an afternoon stroll around Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building. Honestly, there’s so much more but there’s my top hits. A few evenings I’d also include speakeasies: Corndogs at Criffdogs in the Lower East Side followed by drinks in Please Don’t Tell through the phone booth. This little speakeasy that I don’t know the name that you enter through a back alley and serves drinks in tea cups. The Wayland in alphabet fo the best whiskey cocktail of your life. And dinner in Chinatown at Nam Wah Parlor followed by drinks next door at Apotheke, most expensive creative cocktails you will ever try.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Dawn Sadler served as a mentor to me in the early days of starting THR3EFOLD. It was through her continual encouragement and belief in me that I kept going, kept trying, and stay persistent to my vision. I worked with her a great deal through a business, career, and entrepreneur development group, Visionaries, in our church in NYC, Liberty Church. It paved a great deal of the way for my learnings in leadership and community support to build a business.