What’s in a Name?

How the Global Pandemic solidified ‘Thread’ - a name that's ambiguous but also filled with meaning.

thread word mark

It was the end of 2017. After 6+ years of working primarily as a freelancer, I realized that the isolation of working alone was wearing on me deeply. If you are a freelancer - in any industry - I’m sure you can relate. Celebrating wins and milestones alone is hard, and not nearly as joyful as when those moments are achieved with others. And yet the difficulties, losses and setbacks seem to be magnified in isolation. That was tough.

As I leaned into the realization that I needed a change, I saw two equally valid options: 1) Create a resumé, dust off my interviewing skills, and try to find a creative team to join. Or 2) Plant a flag in the ground, and try to build something new - something bigger than myself, with lasting value that could be a blessing to others.

I chose to build something. But don’t let this version of the story give you a false impression. I lacked a lot of clarity about what it was that I wanted to build. In my mind - there were two things I needed no matter what the future held: a physical space and a name. So I signed a lease on the space we now call home, and set out to put a name to the dream.

I had two criteria for the name. First, it needed to be ambiguous enough to stay strong as the business grew in one of the three different directions I saw as possibilities from the start. Choosing a name that was too descriptive would present challenges or become obsolete if the business started to pivot as it grew. Second, it needed to have meaning. I’m a classic over-thinker, and a name with a deep meaning was a must for me.

Those two guideposts led me to the name Thread. I could talk for hours about the depth of meaning in this name (and would love to - so hit us up if you want to dig in), but here’s the elevator pitch version:

As I wrestled daily with the isolation of freelancing, I was thinking a lot about human connection. In our faith tradition, there is one big story arc - creation, fall and redemption. While leaning into that belief could make us feel small and insignificant, for us, it amplifies the weight, value and dignity to every human life and experience. Our stories are *threaded* into this giant story in such a way that if any one one were removed, the details of that larger story would be affected for the rest of time. As filmmakers, designers, photographers, and creatives in general, this is a life-altering thought. It gives new meaning to the work we do in helping bring stories to life across mediums.

Taking the meaning one layer deeper, we also believe that the themes of that one big story are threads in the stories that we are most drawn to. Genesis stories, stories of overcoming challenges, redemption stories, stories of grace and forgiveness - these are the stories that have resonated throughout human history, from the oral tradition, to the written word, to the modern mediums we create in today. So when we set out to make a documentary film, or create a visual identity for a business we are looking for these themes in the stories of our clients. This exploration connects us to our clients and subjects emotionally as we discover the themes that connect us - first as humans, and second as creative collaborators.

Thread. It was ambiguous enough. It had meaning. I threw it on the shingle outside and came in on day 1 to a well-named, but empty studio space. The story of how we got to where we are now from that day is a story for another time, but providentially, Chris (now partner and Design Lead at Thread) was looking for office space to rent as he built his brand design business. I extended the invitation to co-work, and he moved in. After a year and a half of working side-by-side and cheering for each other's businesses, we decided to partner and launch Thread as a multi-disciplinary creative studio. We’ll dissect that story more in a future post, but you’re here for the name.

Fast forward 6 months after excitedly partnering to launch Thread. The world is shut down because of the Covid-19 virus. Pennsylvania is issued a stay-at-home order. Businesses are shuttered. Face to face meetings are out of the question. Filming stops. We pushed off from the dock in beautiful weather, and sailed straight into a hurricane.

During this global shutdown, we’ve endeavored to choose joy and gratitude. To identify and deepen our convictions, and to let this fire refine us. As we have reflected, we think our name has taken an even deeper meaning during the Covid-19 shutdown. Ironically, as the ability to visit and experience other countries and cultures has ceased physically, it has never been easier to see the connection that we share. Themes that often get masked by cultural dressing have been reduced to their most elemental forms. In countries and cultures across the globe, we are encountering life and death, considering provision and sustenance, celebrating self-sacrificial good, and rediscovering the importance of family. We are asking for grace, reconciling relationships and collectively wishing for a redemptive end to the suffering.

The global nature of this pandemic has solidified for us the convictions that originally led to the name Thread. When a blip on the timeline of history affects nearly every human on the planet in some way, it becomes clear that our stories truly are threaded together. As we hear and celebrate stories of triumph in the face of this crisis, we are convinced again that themes of the one big story are evident in all of our lives. And so we have doubled down on our conviction and commitment to searching for those threads. No matter the creative medium, we know that the stories we help bring to life won’t resonate unless we connect - first as humans, and then as creative collaborators.

Written By:Zack Wilson
Posted on:07.14.2020
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