American TextilesThreading the Needle

American-made textiles are in practically everything. But do we really know what they are? Or where they come from? Or how they are made? Or how policies crafted in Washington impact the daily operations of innovative textile companies employing thousands of workers across the country? Though we rely on textiles daily, in countless ways, many have trouble identifying them and describing their function, much less the research, investment, countless processes, sustainable practices and innovations that combine to bring them into our lives. And if we don’t know what they are or understand the roles they play in supporting our national economy, health and security, how can we understand the importance of ensuring that the textiles we rely on are made here, in the United States?

American Textiles: Threading the Needle is a podcast that exists to investigate these questions that surround our conceptions of this industry and the vital products it supplies. Through first-hand interviews with experts in the field and government officials, the American Textiles podcast aims to help listeners understand the role textiles play in our everyday lives, the policies that shape the domestic industry, and their connection to bigger issues such as health, safety and global competitiveness. Join us as we explore this rich U.S. industry and the countless products it innovates, produces and brings.

Threading the Needle Podcast

Episode 1

Kim Glas is the President and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). As the first woman leader of the U.S. textile industry's trade association in Washington, Kim has had a rewarding career in government and the private sector. Hear Kim's personal story in this inaugural program of “American Textiles: Threading the Needle,” as well as her advice for women just starting their careers in the textile industry. This is an insightful discussion with one of the leading manufacturing and trade policy experts in the American textile industry. Tune in to learn more! Hosted by Kristi Ellis of NCTO, and interviewed by Bob Antoshak, Gherzi Organization partner.

Episode 2

Join our conversation with celebrated author Maxine Bédat as we discuss her new book, “Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment,” and also explore the activities of The New Standard Institute, where she is Executive Director. In her book, Ms. Bédat (who was recently seen on CNN and in Forbes) follows the global path of a pair of jeans from the cotton fields of Texas, to the textile manufacturing centers of Asia, to cut-and-sew operations in Sri Lanka, distribution back to U.S. stores for sale to consumers, to the after-life of garments once they are disposed of and end up in burning trash heaps in countries like Ghana. Hosted by Kristi Ellis of NCTO, and interviewed by Bob Antoshak, Gherzi Organization partner.

Episode 3

Tune in to hear how a strong government advocate for American workers and manufacturers views the future of the U.S. textile and apparel industry, a vital domestic supply chain that has overcome significant challenges in the past three years and continues to support vital jobs and products for this nation’s economy. Jennifer Knight is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, Materials Industries, Critical Minerals and Metals with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Knight talks textile trade policy, giving insight into how the government is helping support and expand this critical manufacturing supply chain that is under constant threat from illegal foreign competition from China and others. Hosted by NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

Episode 4

Kathie Leonard is the founder and President and CEO of Auburn Manufacturing Inc., a Maine-based manufacturer of advanced textiles for extreme-heat environments, who hosted a historic visit from President Joe Biden earlier this year. Hear how Kathie built her textile company over the past 40 years, facing a multitude of challenges, including inflation, unfair import competition and a once-in-a-generation pandemic that nearly derailed her company. In a true testament of determination and grit, her small American company engaged in a major battle against Chinese companies dumping silica fabric on the U.S. market and came out the other side a victor. Kathie details her personal journey as a woman textile leader who has persevered and whose story of success drew the likes of an American president to her factory floor in this program of “American Textiles: Threading the Needle.”