TH Mills Intent & Sacred Bond
Our Intent and Sacred Bond
More than a year ago TH Mills was inspired to develop a line of sock wear themed around Native Americans, the original inhabitants of North America. We named the concept “First Nation.” As we began to develop the concept, we were already aware of the extensive appropriation and unauthorized use of Native American art and designs in fashion and related industries. Therefore, we decided very early in our process that we would take an approach that focused on “doing the right thing,” which is to say a diametrically opposite approach from the design and marketing of much of what today is sold as Native American-influenced or derived products.
We then set out to establish criteria that would help ensure that the First Nation Collection would have integrity with, and benefit for, Native Americans. We established these criteria:
It must be unique, and not derivative;
It must be authentic and legitimate;
It must have a purpose beyond being a great sock – something that would serve a “larger cause.”
To make our vision a reality, for authenticity and legitimacy, we knew from inception that we had to work with Native American designers in order to ensure that designs were not only original, but also based on the heritage and the history of the Native Americans as modern artistic renditions that respect and honor what has come before.
We did extensive research. We initiated conversations with tribal council representatives, with Native designers and experts, and other influential Native Americans. We began the process of identifying the designers with whom we wanted to collaborate. This was not an easy process. Due in large part to the rather shameful history of exploitation of Native Americans, we had to ensure that we were completely straightforward, and that everyone with whom we had discussions was fully apprised of how we intended to work.
During this research process we also identified a wonderful organization, The American Indian College Fund, that could benefit from our work. As we came to learn, only 14% of Native Americans have a college degree, and only 1% of enrolled college students in the U.S. are represented by Native Americans. As we believe education to be a great equalizer, and the doorway to enhanced opportunity and quality of life, Native American educational opportunity seemed to be the perfect “larger cause” we were looking to serve. Thus we came to know the American Indian College Fund, an organization that has as its sole objective to increase the number of American Indians who hold college degrees.
We initiated conversations with the College Fund, and established a partnership with them, in which a percentage of the profits from the First Nation Collection are donated to them to help further their worthy purpose.
All of this is a preamble to what we at TH Mills have as a sacred bond – an intent on which everything associated with the First Nation Collection is based. This is the intent to “do well, and to do good.” This means simply that we intend to do business successfully with the Collection, and to use part of the proceeds to do good – to help further the cause of Native American education. In keeping with this intent, we pledge three things:
- We will never appropriate Native American designs of any type. All designs will be originals conceived and developed by Native American artists/artisans or designers, and so any influences from previous designs that appear in our Collection will be completely legitimate and authentic representations of the designers’ own heritage.
- We will use existing Native American symbols, art and writings only to enhance understanding and appreciation of the Native American history, traditions and art, and only with the express permission of those who own them (view permission & usage). In cases where artwork and/or other creative pieces are in the public domain and not owned by any individual or organization we will ensure that they are used only with respect and honor, to enhance knowledge and appreciation of Native American traditions as noted.
- We will ensure that every item that bears the First Nation™ name respects and honors Native Americans, and that a portion of the proceeds is donated to the American Indian College Fund according to our existing agreement
- Click HERE to donate.
Everyone in the Thorlo organization is dedicated to these principles. We have always been dedicated to the principle of producing and selling outstanding sock and footwear products and providing commendable customer service, all at a fair price; and the dedication to the principles of integrity with respect to all First Nation™ products is an extension of our general business practices. We make great products, we strive to provide great value, and we will always act with integrity.