Many in the nonprofit world are familiar with Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, who was named a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2016. Described as a social enterprise, the multifaceted Thistle Farms community is run by survivors of addiction, human trafficking and prostitution. Located just outside Nashville, Thistle Farms serves as a refuge, home and workplace for recovering women who produce and sell home and body care products for more than 30,000 customers around the country, in addition to running an on-site cafe. Twenty years after its inception, it’s in the midst of a total refresh.
“There are huge changes happening at Thistle Farms,” says Dorris Walker, local events coordinator for the enterprise. For one, the products have undergone a rebranding, which includes new packaging, scents and labels for products such as lotion, soap and candles.
Another big change is an overhaul to Thistle Stop Cafe, a staple at Thistle Farms’ campus that has been open for four years. Serving tea, coffee, breakfast and lunch to the community, the cafe has quickly outgrown its small space. “The cafe was built by the community, for the community,” says Trish Ethridge, Thistle Stop Cafe events coordinator, who first came to the property recovering from a troubled past herself. “We currently function with only a panini press, a microwave and a flat grill, and we hand wash our dishes.”
The cafe remodel includes giving the dining room a more modern look, as well as putting in a full commercial kitchen—an oven, stove and dishwasher, Ethridge notes, grinning. It will also help Thistle Stop Cafe attract corporate events to meet and dine in the new space, especially with the addition of well- known Nashville chef Martha Stamps, who will make her own breads and pastries on-site and introduce a new boxed-lunch menu.