Community Crafts: Common Thread Co-op, sewing with a purpose @CommonThreadVan

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I was delighted and honored to meet with Melanie Conn, of Devco and Common Thread.  We chatted for a long time and she is absolutely inspiring.

Melanie Conn has been involved in co-op and community economic development in British Columbia since 1971, and has been a member of Devco since 1998. As an educator and consultant, Melanie has provided technical assistance for dozens of organizations and individual projects as well as for provincial and federal government departments.  [source]

Common Thread is a cooperative of Canadian organizations that have sewing programs and enterprises. The cooperative provides brokering and production coordination for [their] members and other producers.  

“Our social goal is to provide a flexible work environment for people who have barriers to employment…” – Melanie Conn

[Their] members operate social enterprises: businesses that have a primary social purpose, such as creating employment for a specific group such as newcomers to Canada or Aboriginal communities. Like most social enterprises, they were started and continue to be hosted by non–profit organizations…  Common Thread works with promotional companies to design products for their corporate and non-profit customers. [Common Thread] also works directly with customers who purchase products in bulk from [them.  Once a contract is in place [they] coordinate production among [their] network of sewers. [source]


Their products include: tote bags, drawstring backpacks, lunch bags, notebook covers, messenger bags, and aprons.


Watch this marvelous PSA that explains the organization:

The members:

The Kettle Friendship  Society

Coast Mental Health- Sewing With Heart

Malalay, the Afghan Women’s Sewing and Craft Co-op 

Progressive Intercultural  Community Services (PICS) 

E.M.B.E.R.S. (Eastside Movement for Business & Economic Renewal Society)

Common Thread

626 Slocan St.
Vancouver, BC
V5K 3X7
Tel: 604-736-0935
Fax: 604-737-4901



Related sites regarding community development, non-profits and social enterprises:

Enterprising Non-Profits, enp, is a unique collaborative program that promotes and supports social enterprise development and growth as a means to build strong non-profit organizations and healthier communities. 

My Arms Wide Open works directly with community members, who identify priorities for community development. They help them improve their skills and knowledge in areas such as entrepreneurship, leadership, mentoring, education and personal development.

Passion Foundation is a Vancouver, BC based social profit organization that focuses on the health and well being of young women in Canada by raising literacy and social development.


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