Harrison is a socially-conscious and justice-driven entrepreneur, who has lived and worked in India for a number of years and is dedicated to building a business that can really make a transformative impact on impoverished communities. For this, Harrison has been developing a plan to manufacture and export sari yarn through Work of Worth to markets in the U.S.
“For years my wife and I have been taking steps toward starting a business, living, and working in one of the most populated and poor states of North India,” says Harrison.
“One of the steps in this process was spending two years in Bangalore, working with a children's home and being part of a community of people who were doing business in India also. During our time in Bangalore I took part in a cohort at the BDC (Business Development Center), and began [brainstorming] and vision casting about various business possibilities. I decided to settle on the idea of sari yarn and take that project through the course.
“Over the course of the next several months, things kept falling into place, and I had several encounters with people about my project that opened doors and eventually showed that this was business was definitely a realistic and worthwhile venture.”
The idea originally came up in a meeting with Work of Worth Executive Director Barry Morehead, who at the time was working with BDC as a visiting executive. As he was leaving the U.S. for Bangalore, a knitting enthusiast relative of Barry’s asked him to look for sari yarn. Catching the latest trends in reused or upcycled materials, in this process saris are shredded and made into yarn, which can then be used to make unique and colorful items. As Barry and Harrison researched the process, they realized that they were onto something – a potentially untapped market in the West for sari yarn, and the potential to build a socially conscious, value and development driven business in an impoverished part of India.
“The name of the yarn is Rethread,” says Harrison. “Our goal is to have a legitimate profitable business that exports to the United States. We would provide jobs, training and education in an area with an extremely large amount of poverty and unemployment. Our business would provide jobs, health care, a healthy meal, financial and health education, as well as open doors to relationships with the community.
“Over the last couple months I have met and talked with different retailers, distributors, product designers who are all interested in our product. We have just recently moved to North India, and we are working on learning Hindi, finding a house and building relationships. We are very near the "do it" phase... its no longer just an idea or a far off dream.
Harrison and his wife hope to have Rethread launched by the beginning of 2015.