Creating Ties and Opportunities for Refugees
Loan from CEF helps launch business that hires refugees
After spending a few years overseas in the military, Jeremy Pierce witnessed severe income inequality across the world, and decided to return home and focus his studies on economic security. While studying he realized that there were many refugees and immigrants in the U.S. who suffered from a lack of job opportunities, despite having several eligible working skills. He decided that he wanted to start his own business, so that he could create employment for these people and the opportunity for them to put their skills to good use. He found that there was a market demand for customized ties, and set off to start the business.
With no collateral, credit, proof of concept or income, Jeremy launched his business Knotty Ties through a Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $24,000. Hoping that this success would help to legitimize his business to investors, Jeremy went to Ours To Own partner Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF), where he qualified for a $10,000 loan. The CEF loan was a boost of confidence for other lenders, and as Knotty Ties grew, they were able to secure their first equity based lender.
With the help of digital marketing and America’s obsessions with customization, Knotty Ties started making $80,000 a month in sales in its first year of production. Jeremy later went back to CEF for an additional $100,000 loan to grow the business even further.
Today Knotty Ties sells to over 40 countries and employs 21 staff, 10 of whom are refugees from countries such as Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. They work out of an open warehouse financed by other Ours To Own partner Urban Land Conservancy, where they enjoy a more affordable rent rate and don’t have to worry about being suddenly evicted due to changing real estate trends.
Jeremy is looking to expand Knotty Ties production to clothing and homeware, such as curtains and wall hangings. He also hopes to employ more refugees in the future, and provide childcare and healthcare for his staff. He is also looking into more sustainable manufacturing practices, such as using sewing machines that are solar powered.
“The goal is to replicate this model around the world, within the U.S. but also abroad so that displaced people in refugee camps in other countries also have the opportunity work”, explains Jeremy.