Twenty years ago Rev. Becca Stevens looked for a way to house four women survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution. She chose the thistle to represent her mission. Often viewed as a weed by many, this prickly plant, if allowed to grow, becomes a royal purple flower with a soft center.
Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, has grown into an organization recognized around the world for helping women overcome these issues. By providing jobs making bath and body products by hand for over 70 survivors, Thistle Farms offers hope to women whom society could have easily forgotten. They recently added Thistle Stop Cafe and are expanding their retail division. This means more employment hours, improved benefits and health insurance, and new job growth to help the women get out of poverty. Becca was recently voted one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of 2016.
Rebranding “Love Heals Every Body”
Thistle Farms has been a Nashville Wraps customer for years. They recently expanded their line with custom printed shopping bags and custom tissue with a pretty thistle flower print. They have rebranded and reformulated their entire product line in order to better tell their story on the shelf and to meet the market’s high expectations for quality products that are also aesthetically pleasing. The front of each product reads, “Naturally handcrafted by women survivors.”
Mary Stuart Smart, head of Marketing & Product Development says, “Nashville Wraps has been a wonderful partner during this transition, providing us with new custom shopping bags and tissue paper (shown by Tammy at right), as well as a variety of supplies and gift accessories that we use to package our gift baskets. It is so wonderful to have a local packaging company we can rely on for great customer service and quick delivery.”
Thistle Stop Cafe Re-Opening Bigger & Better
Thistle Farms is increasing its manufacturing capacity by 400% as well as increasing the size of their cafe, scheduled for a grand re-opening this summer. Located off Charlotte Avenue in Nashville, Thistle Stop Cafe is adding a full-service kitchen with catering facilities and Thistle Farms’ first dedicated retail store. Mary says, “We are also investing in higher-quality raw materials for our products and better packaging. Our long-term goals are to move sales revenue from 65% of our overall income to 90%. This will allow us to provide better jobs for our employees and to leverage private philanthropy to grow our residential and recovery services.”
The wholesale division is an important part of the business model at Thistle Farms. The Home & Body products are currently in over 450 stores nationally including Whole Foods. They continue to look for new stores that are passionate about their mission and products. If your retail store is interested in offering Thistle Farms products, please contact their National Sales Director, Katrina.
Expanding Thistle Farms Model Nationwide
Thistle National Network is a group of 40 organizations located in 24 different states that are replicating the Thistle Farms’ model in their own communities with a goal to go nationwide. If you or someone you know is interested in starting your own space of healing and empowerment for survivors in your community, contact Kat.
Rev. Becca Stevens, in addition to founding Thistle Farms, is an Episcopal priest, a chaplain at Vanderbilt University, and founder of a 2-year residential program called Magdalene which houses 25 women. The joy of seeing the changes in these women who are now off the streets and happily making beautiful products, pouring candles and formulating lip balms, is very rewarding. Their message and hashtag says it all: #loveheals.
Watch Becca to learn more about Thistle Farms: