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


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Face Masks 

Adult Standard Adult Small Kids
5" x 9"
Fits most adults.


4.5" x 8"

Fits most petite women and young adults.


4.75" x 7"

Intended for kids ages 5-12


Neck Gaiters 

Regular Small
9.5” x 14”
Fits most adults.
8.5" x 14"
Fits some petite adults and most kids.




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
14" max adjustable velcro closure
Ages 2 and under
14" max adjustable velcro closure


Unisex Robes 

Comparable to 0-14 in Women's sizing
Comparable to Small or Medium in Men's sizing
31" wide at the waist
36" length
Comparable to 16-26 in Women's sizing
Comparable to Large or X-Large in Men's sizing
35" wide at the waist
39" length