In the 70’s the South Bronx was infamous. It was the poster child for urban decay. For years residents paid for poor development choices, city mismanagement and corrupt land owners.
But the borough has since become the last frontier for development in New York City. However, Mott Haven residents continue to face poverty, food and housing insecurity. Meanwhile, investors have focused on building luxury apartments, excluding existing residents from the growth surrounding them. Gentrification has arrived in Mott Haven.
Our founder, Ramona, spent 10 years living in Hawaii but she came home to the Bronx regularly. During those visits she noticed the changes occurring in her neighborhood. She also noticed how things weren't changing for her family, and neighbors.
The disparity in opportunity and access made her feel uneasy, and eventually guilty. Ramona had created meaningful programming in Hawaii and Indonesia, but she didn't feel she had done enough for the place she called home.
She made the decision to return to the Bronx, and do something. When she began to sell the contents of her apartment, and pack up she didn't have a clear plan. She simply knew she needed to go home.
When asked why she chose to leave paradise she states "The attributes my neighbors’ posses are those I admire and wish to reflect in our brand: resilience, determination, and strength. Growing up in a neighborhood plagued by poverty and crime isn’t easy, for the children that inspire us, and Ojala Threads. But we are all determined to move forward, using our heritage as a foundation to build on".
Before creating our designs we created our corporate responsibility strategy. It focuses on investing in the residents of Mott haven.
Where I’m From
by Ramona Ferreyra
Sewage in the heat.
Wet wooden homes.
Rain dropping on leaves.
I am from the edge where trash accumulates.
Forming mounds and releasing stench.
It sits there as if it read that New York
Times article naming Mott Haven the next frontier.
But few last here, because of the smell in the summer.
Because of the rats in the winter.
They don’t take the time to uncover my spot.
This place free of YEEEERRRRRRSSSS free of new beards and trendy beers.
This small ledge where I stand at times staring at water that seems unfamiliar.
On this ledge I sometimes admire the moon asking la Diosa Luna to let me see in the murk some beauty.
Longing for the way that water flirted with greens and blues.
These hues so deep that one coat of paint would not do.
But this hue my heart understood.
A blue familiar because before being stripped from the place that eats the sun and spits out platanos my spirit knew that we would lose.
But it is so many blues…
Our Vision for the South Bronx
Through an Aggressive Corporate Responsibility Strategy Ojala Threads will launch pilot programs focused on civic education and participation; and farm to table programming.
Eventually Ojala Threads hopes to bring manufacturing and print technology to the South Bronx that would support other small businesses, and tap into the potential of our neighbors. Our ultimate goal is to launch a small "campus" that would include cut and sew machinery, print operations and a storefront. If you'd like to further discuss our corporate responsibility pilot programs and goals please contact us!