Open for Business: Five siblings work to build family legacy with store

Open For Business

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Jarrell Smith is fusing fashion, family and art in the bigger picture of entrepreneurship. 

He and his four brothers and sisters are building the bottom up groundwork to become a prominent local staple. It’s all with their screen printing store, 309 Threads. 

“It was just basically an in-home shop, converted my basement into a workshop,” said Smith.

“…This was something that was just an idea before. Now, it’s manifested into something you can actually see and you know be proud of.”

Jarrell smith

The self-taught artist started from humble beginnings, dedicating countless hours to his craft. 

Smith said, “Before even doing any screen printing, I would actually hand paint, you know, t-shirts by hand. I’m talking extensive portraits that could take anywhere from an hour to two hours. [I] did that roughly for about 10 or so years.”

“It was just something—ever since I could remember that I just had a knack to. And you know, it seems like no matter how long I go without doing it, I just come back and pick up…”

jarrell smith

But in reflecting, Smith said this tedious style of art took a toll on him.

“[I] kind of got burned out on it, wanted to create something that you know, could mass produce in a lesser time, so screen printing was the way to go,” said Smith.

As a way to connect, Smith, as well as his brothers, Darrell and James Netters and sisters, Rakeitta Netters and Sharrell Smith started brainstorming different types of family businesses they could go into. They decided screen printing was the best option since they could offset some of the upstart costs. In November, the team of five officially went into business together creating designs, their own apparel and filling custom orders. 

Smith said it’s a surreal feeling to see 309 Threads come to life, especially during the pandemic. 

“You’re more inclined to hear a business closing. And here we are taking a leap of faith of opening and I think it’s something that’s paid off,” he said.

It’s bonding experience for Smith and his siblings that he says he wouldn’t have any other way. 

“We’ll all learn something and it’s like a journey that you know, we’re all taking together,” he said.

309 Threads is located at 400 E. Washington St. in East Peoria.

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