Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing…
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Before I met the people behind Kreinik threads, I thought they were a big corporation. Based on their professional packaging, the fact that they were in so many stores and had a European sounding name, I incorrectly assumed they were a big machine run by men in suits. The truth is that the people behind the threads are a family, and the family name is Kreinik. The people that make the threads—run the thread-making machines, ensure that spools are labeled, get things in the proper packaging, and ship them out the door—are just like you and I. They are all nice, creative, fun, and generous people.
I think the small-business, family feeling of the company is why Charles Kreinik’s death this past year hit us all so hard (me, employees, people in the needlework industries, our customers, strangers all over the world, and of course the family). Charles was the son of current company owner Doug Kreinik and his wife Myla, and the grandson of the company founders, Doug’s parents Jerry and Estelle. (The first time I met Estelle, who was semi-retired at the time, she put her hand on my arm and said so enthusiastically and warmly, “It’s SO nice to meet you!” I felt like I gained a grandmother, mother, and mentor in an instant.)
Charles committed suicide at age 28. Surgeries after an accident left him dependent on pain killers, depressed, and cycling downward. Like many who suffer from addiction and depression, Charles was a good actor. He didn’t want to burden anyone, least of all his family. He was a constant joker, loved music, traveled, was devoted to his grandparents Jerry and Estelle. Charles grew up around the thread factory, worked there in the summers, and worked trade shows when he was available. I know he was proud of the family business, but wanted to find his own place in the world. He worked in sales, marketing, restaurant industry, music, and eventually as a mortician. Sounds like a crazy occupation for someone who was depressed, doesn’t it? But Charles thought he could help people through that profession, and he did. We know he did, that is—you couldn’t meet Charles and not smile or feel his generosity. He struggled, however, and left us to find his own peace.
Perhaps you know someone like Charles. Unfortunately, most of us have been affected in some way by addiction, depression, and suicide. Support groups help, as does talking about it. There is a community out there waiting to help. You—we—are not alone.
I mention all of this in my column because of two things: First, I want to share the fact that Kreinik threads are made by people, started by a mom and a pop in their basement. They are more like you and I than you would expect from a well-known international company. They are small business friendly, supporting of designers and indie shops, dedicated to making things better every year. And I promise you, all of the people behind the threads are excited whenever they see what you make with Kreinik fibers.
The other reason is that the Kreinik family has created a special product, made of Kreinik threads—the same ones you use for stitching—to honor Charles and others like him. The new C.A.K.S. Laces, a line of designer shoe laces, were developed with a goal in mind: donate a portion of the profits to programs for suicide prevention, addiction counseling, and grief support. Through these shoelaces, which can be purchased online, we can honor those we’ve lost and support many, many others.
January is always a good time to put an extra spring in your step. Try these shoelaces on for size. They are colorful, fun, and created for a good cause. The first set of available colors glow in the dark. Details here: http://www.kreinik.com/shops/CAKS/
Side note: Doug Kreinik has a custom-lace program for cheerleading, sports, and other groups wanting to create their own color combinations. Minimum order amounts apply, but are reasonable and designed so that your group can use them as a fundraiser. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.
Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory. Dena’s monthly column, Kreinik Calling, sheds light on the fascinating fibres that we all use and love.