Dory-Anna Richards Waxman | Founder + Executive Director of Common Threads of Maine + Owner of Old Port Wool + Textile Company
Inside a Westbrook mill, Dory-Anna Richards Waxman teaches new Mainers the art of commercial sewing. Common Threads of Maine, which she founded in 2015, helps immigrants build better lives in Maine. Along with her staff of three, she teaches immigrants how to operate sewing machines, read and make patterns, and cut and blend garments. During the school’s 16-week intensives, students also learn basic English and math skills and are coached on how to find employment as professional sewers. Several Common Threads graduates now work for Maine-based companies such as Angelrox, American Roots, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear. “When I open the shop each morning, the students come in laughing and hugging,” says Waxman. “They are the reason that I do what I do.” Nearly 30 years ago, Waxman started Casco Bay Wool Works (now Old Port Wool and Textile Company) with her husband, Daniel, and learned how to sew wool capes, shawls, and blankets to make a living while raising her three children. Within two years, she was designing and shipping hand-sewn wool garments from Maine to countries all over the world. She opened Common Threads to pass on her textile skills to the next generation. “Helping women living in challenging situations become professional seamstresses and integral parts of our communities makes my heart full,” Waxman says. Along with her son and daughter-in-law, Ben Waxman and Whitney Reynolds, Waxman cofounded American Roots, a Westbrook-based clothing company that uses American-made fabric and materials to make clothing, blankets, and scarves.