The Lawrence-based nonprofit “empowerment boutique” Uncommon Threads is the embodiment of “women helping other women,” says founder Susan Kanoff.
Founded in 2016, the organization has made great strides in the past three years. What started as a tiny storefront on Island Street in Lawrence has expanded as its neighboring businesses have moved out, and Uncommon Threads formally unveiled their new space at a December 6 opening. The space that could once only serve one client at a time can now serve up to four, with ample office space, inventory and sorting rooms, and a boutique store stocking designer clothes to boot.
And with their new major expansion, they expect to serve 1,200 women this upcoming year—a 50% increase from this past year’s client base. “Self-confidence is the best outfit,” reads a newly painted wall at the store.
Here’s how it works: social workers sign up their clients who would be a good fit for Uncommon Thread’s services, whether they need a wardrobe for a new office job, a dress for a special occasion, or just a refresh on their everyday wardrobe. After filling out the detailed online form, the clients are placed on a list, and are then scheduled for a one-on-one appointment with one of Uncommon Thread’s volunteer stylists.
Since their expansion, the organization now has a boutique store for the general public, carrying gorgeous, designer clothing at often bargain prices. Some of the clothing is thrifted, and some is donated from local stores like SoleAmour, French Lessons, and Ecru. Profits from the store generate about a third of the organization’s funding.
Uncommon Threads expanded with the help of Timberland’s Serv-a-palooza. Each year, the iconic boot company chooses a handful of nonprofits to volunteer at for a day of service. Thirty Timberland staff members spent a day painting, constructing, designing, and completely revamping Uncommon Threads’ space.
Besides sales from the store, the nonprofit receives its funding through individual contributions, grants, and their yearly gala. The store is staffed by volunteers. “Sometimes we don’t want to go home at night, we just want to hang out with each other,” said Kanoff. “These are women who really care about one another.”
Kanoff says the clients range in age from sixteen to eighty-five, and mostly come from Lawrence and the surrounding Merrimack Valley area, but some come from as far as Boston to receive Uncommon Threads’ essential services.
Kanoff hopes to someday replicate the store in different communities, because there is “a big need and a big demand.” For now, the organization is focusing on firmly planting its routes in its fresh new Lawrence store.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Kanoff.