Local business owner strives to make a difference

Fed by Threads is the only
Fed by Threads is the only sustainable, organic and American made clothing store in the Arizona. Each piece of clothing is labelled with the state in Which it was made. (Photo by Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonoran News Service)

It all started as a measly rack of t-shirts outside of a yoga studio and now it claims to be the only sustainable, organic and American made clothing store in the Arizona.

Alok Appadurai is the owner of a store called Fed by Threads in downtown Tucson. Appadurai is passionate about providing sustainable clothes for all ages while also easing hunger and creating safe jobs around the world.

Every item of clothing purchased at Fed by Threads provides 12 meals to those around the country who are hungry through an organization called Feeding America. “It all started when I got a letter from the food bank of southern Arizona that absolutely rocked my world,” Appadurai said.

Fed by Threads owner Alok Appadurai is folding clothes for display in his store in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by: Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)
Fed by Threads owner Alok Appadurai is folding clothes for display in his store in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by: Megan Canterbury/Arizona Sonora News Service)

Arizona is tied as the worst state in the U.S. when it comes to child hunger, and the 5th worst for overall food insecurity, Appadurai said. “Change happens by millions of people doing millions of small things to make the world a better place and that is what I strive to do.”

The average American will spend about $700 on gifts this year. If only half this amount were spent on gifts made in this county, up to a million American jobs would be created. 

Jane Castle, operations manager of the store, said, “Appadurai is a strong minded and dedicated businessman. When I heard about what he was doing I left my other job to be a part of it.”

The clothes that are purchased at the store have a ripple effect that can make the world a better place. Not only does Appadurai want to help fight hunger, he also works to achieve safer work environments for people around the world while supplying an ecosystem of American jobs.

“Many people are unaware of the unsafe working conditions in clothing manufacturing companies,” he said.

He points to an event in April 2013.  Rana Plaza, an eight-story high clothes factory, collapsed in Bangladesh. The accident had a death toll of 1,129 and 2,515 people were injured. It is considered the deadliest garment-factory accident in history .

“I would rather have less clothes that are sustainable with organic fabrics because I know where it was made and that it was produced safely and fairly,” Appadurai said.

Customers seem to agree. Elyse Muratore, a student at the University of Arizona Medical School, said, “I love the style as well as the mission here. It’s great to feel that when I am spending money, it’s going to something great.”

Appadurai said, “The short term goal is providing meals for the hungry and the long term goal is to provide more jobs in America. For me, it has never been about the now, it is about the long term.”

Chelsee Moe is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona.  Contact her at chelseemoe@email.arizona.edu.

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