We hire humans.

by Mark Johnson March 02, 2016

“Why don’t you just hire Americans?” is one of the most frustrating questions people ask me.

Three years ago, we started Knotty Tie Co. with the goal of providing skills-based employment to resettled refugees. We’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response, but sometimes people take issue with what we’re doing.

Why don’t you just hire Americans?

When Jack Lew, US Secretary of the Treasury, visited us last week, we got a shining example of this sentiment on Twitter:















To those who would anguish over why we don’t “just hire Americans”, here are a few things to consider:

Our company’s mission is to provide employment opportunities to resettled refugees with sewing skills.

It’s the entire reason we started this company. It’s why we exist today. Approximately 1,500 refugees are resettled in Colorado each year, many of whom struggle to find reliable, flexible and dignified employment.

To serve this population, we’ve built a for-profit company providing permanent employment to refugees with existing sewing skills, as well as those trained in partnership with resettlement agencies. We specifically seek to empower refugee women, a group with an unemployment rate pushing 50%.

For us, what we do is about creating opportunities for people who really need them.

There is a distinction between refugees and economic migrants.

Refugees are forced to leave their home because their safety is at risk. Economic migrants are seeking to create more economic opportunity for themselves or their family.

Now, I don’t really think this distinction matters. I think that everyone should have the opportunity to work and to create a living for themselves. But if you believe that people are coming to this country to steal our jobs, you should care about this detail.

Refugees aren’t here to steal our jobs. Refugees are here because, as a country, we’ve decided that we should allow people to start a new life here when things are too untenable to survive where they live. When it comes to this, it doesn’t even matter what you think about the prospect of granting refugee status to people in Syria and Iraq, now or in the future. There are thousands already living in the United States who we have invited to rebuilt their lives here after escaping life-threatening struggle.

To provide refuge for someone, only to deny them the opportunity to earn a living is a baffling contradiction that I can’t wrap my head around.

While there is some debate on whether or not our economy and institutions can bear the stress of incoming economic migrants, there should be no debate as to whether those granted refuge in our country should be able to find dignified and fulfilling work and become productive members of our society.

We hire humans.

Ultimately, no matter who you think we should be hiring, we hire humans. Some of those humans are natural born citizens. Some of those humans are here under refugee status. All of those humans deserve the opportunity to support themselves and their families.

Mark Johnson
Mark Johnson


4 Responses

Jessica Beatty
Jessica Beatty

May 14, 2016

This embodies what it means to TRULY embrace what it means to be an American AND an entrepreneur. Beautifully put and very well said, I think once more people realize that we are all human, no matter what criteria we may fall under in other aspects, the world will be a much better place. We just received our ties from your WONDERFUL staff for our wedding and I’ve never been more excited, and I don’t even get to wear one! God bless you!


April 13, 2016

Amen! I love this

Christin Kreml
Christin Kreml

March 25, 2016

LOVE LOVE LOVE. Thank you for providing an opportunity for those who might not have one. Keep doing what you’re doing and making a difference!

C. Carr
C. Carr

March 06, 2016

Thanks for being a beautiful example of inclusivity, and a provider of hope.

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Face Masks 

Adult Standard Adult Small
5" x 8"
Fits most male adults.
4.5" x 7"
Fits most women and young adults.



Skinny Knotty Classic
2.25" wide 2.75" wide 3.5" wide


Standard Long Extra-Long
58" long 62" long 66" long


Youth Self-Tied
52" long
Ages 10+


Bow Ties 

Adult Kids Pre-Tied Baby Pre-Tied
Self-tied style
Adjustable for necks 14-18"
Ages 2 and over
Adjustable velcro closure
Ages 2 and under
Adjustable velcro closure