Celebration: Why Words Matter

Guest: Sheryl Hammontree | Season 9, Ep. 361

Sheryl Hammontree founded Thoughtful Threads apparel as a way to build connection by spreading messages of empowerment, equality, love, and kindness. 

With every item she designs, she’s intentional about choosing words and sayings that radiate positive vibes inside and out.

Creating and making stuff brings Sheryl joy, she loves to paint and decorate children’s furniture and birdhouses.

She has a flower garden in the middle of her yard made up entirely from perennials given to her by important women in her life. She loves to garden and makes awesome pickles.

She owned a gym for 15 years and can do 100 pull-ups faster than she can run a mile.

She met, dated, fell in love, and married her husband, Joel—before social media. They go mountain biking and ride bikes together on the trail, road, and gravel.

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
  • “-words matter. It matters what you tell yourself. It matters what you tell other people. It matters how you say it.”
  • “If I wear a shirt that says unite, well, that holds me accountable. It holds me accountable to live my values, and it also can spark a conversation or encourage someone else to do the same.”
  • “You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain
  • “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.”

What You’ll Learn:

How words can draw us together to create connection and compassion with others.

This Episode Includes:

  • The inspiration behind Thoughtful Threads was to spread messages of kindness in a world that had become less kind.
  • Robin shares a story about meaningful words from her childhood chiropractor which led her to where she is today.
  • Robin plans to celebrate 30 years in practice during the month of March.
  • Sheryl talks about choosing sustainable materials for her business.
  • It’s easy to look at the division in the world but Sheryl encourages us to find common ground.
  • Thoughtful Threads use words and design to create clothes that empower those who wear them.
  • One goal of Thoughtful Threads is to create shirts that will start a conversation and create a connection between people.
  • Sheryl’s parents were the ones who inspired her to be kind to everyone.

Three Takeaways from Today’s Episode:

  • Consider how you can “wear” your values today.
  • Speak kind words to yourself and those around you.
  • Use your imagination to think about one small change you can make to contribute kindness to the world.

Mentioned In This Episode:

Click Here To View Written Transcript of Episode

Dr. Robin

Welcome back to Small Changes, big shifts, building rhythm and resilience. We’re kicking off a really great month, the month of March. And I’m celebrating with my friend Sherly Hammontree. And it’s so fitting that she brought me by a shirt that says unite, but it has a great quote on the back. I’m actually going to start with a quote today.

I’ll end with a quote as well, but it’s so perfect, especially going into this very special month. And I’ll tell you more about that in just a minute. But here’s the quote. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” And that’s by Margaret Mead.

And Sheryl, you don’t know the story, but I’ve been practicing 30 years. This is my 30th year, and we’re doing a really great kind of fundraiser, talking about the journey of how that little tiny action makes a big difference. When you think about words, they make a big difference. It’s a very special month for me. So the shirt that you picked out from a Unite that has the Margaret Mead quote on the back of it really touched my heart for so many reasons.

And sometimes there’s a book called Felicity Prophecy that there are no coincidences. So I’m going to say there’s no coincidence today. So let me introduce you to my guest today.

Sheryl Hammontree founded Thoughtful Threads Apparel as a way to build connection by spreading messages of empowerment, equality, love, and kindness. She had me at that last word for sure. With every item she designed. She’s intentional about choosing words and sayings that radiant positive vibes inside and out. It’s interesting when you think about inside and out and how words matter. We’ll talk about that in a minute.

Creating and making stuff brings Sheryl joy. She loves to paint and decorate children’s furniture and birdhouses. She has a flower garden in the middle of her yard made up of entirely from perennials given to her by important women in her life. She loves to garden and makes awesome pickles. Really? What kind of pickles do you make?


Well, they’re spicy. They’re spicy pickles. Spicy pickles. I grow the cucumbers. I grow the jalapenos and the peppers and make spicy pickles. I’ll bring you some if you’re a pickle fan.

Dr. Robin

Spicy pickles. Pickles are so good for you because of fermentation, but that’s a whole other topic. We’re going to talk about words today. Actually, I heard about your gym before. I actually met you through my friend Laura Lee that you owned a gym for 15 years. You could do 100 pull-ups faster than you can run a mile. Wow. Yeah, that’s a great story. Now we talked about nutrition. Now we’re going to talk about physical fitness. You can see why she’s my guest today. She met, dated, fell in love and married her husband, Joel, before social media. They love mountain biking and they still ride bikes together. So you like biking, too?

So, I just signed up for a Triathlon this morning, the win for Casey Triathlon. You have covered everything that I love to do, almost everything I love to do. Sheryl, welcome to the show.


Thank you for having me.

Dr. Robin

We could talk on many subjects, but today I really want to talk about thoughtful threads and how words matter. What was your inspiration for thoughtful threads?


I believe that about five years ago, the world changed, and it felt in some ways like it became less kind overnight. I think that there were a lot of things that I personally took for granted prior to this big shift in our culture. And it just seemed like with the skills and the experience I have in design and branding and marketing and printing apparel, that it only made sense to do my best to put a little something in the world that was positive.

So I started this whole company with the intent of putting as many positive messages as I could out into our world. Thoughtful threads. Yes.

Dr. Robin

Tell me how words have impacted you throughout your life. Can you think of some times where somebody said something to you that really shifted your journey?


Oh, gosh. Well, you can ask my husband. I frequently use the term or the words, words matter. It matters what you tell yourself. It matters what you tell other people, what you say to other people. It matters how you say it. Gosh an example of when there’s so many nothing that’s popping off your mind yet nothing’s popping up in particular at the moment.

Dr. Robin

Well, you know, it’s interesting when I think about words matter. We just recently had on the show. I encourage people to go back and listen to it if they haven’t listened to it yet. We have the authors of One Word on the show, Dan Britain and Jimmy Page. And they were fabulous. And I’ve been my word for the year is trust. And it’s interesting going into my 30th year. Like I said, this is my 30th year celebration month, okay? We’re doing some really cool things, so our listeners are going to stay tuned for that.

But thinking about the words that my chiropractor said to me 40 plus years ago, and that’s why words have always mattered to me. He said to me, like many people had some childhood trauma, and he knew that because it was a small town. I taught his kids bowling lessons, but he and his wife would say to me, Michelle, you could be anything you want to be. I was a woodworking person, Cheryl, so I loved using my hands creative like that and then became a chiropractor using my hands because of the words they instilled in me. So

 I really resonate with your message of thoughtful threads. You also talk about how you’ve got your love of health and well being, plus gardening, and you use sustainable products. Talk about the sustainable products and how soft they are. I love my shirt.


Yes. Okay. Well, that is actually, I’m glad you asked about that. So for a while, I was worried more about the thoughtful message, the positive message. What does this shirt say? And that was actually my sole focus. And one day, while I was sourcing some garments, I’ve been pretty much using one or two different manufacturers for most of my apparel. And I came upon a company called All Made, and I started reading about them. And the more I read, the more I liked they believe you should wear your values, which I thought was really interesting because I like to think that I wear my values.

My shirt today says Equal is greater than divided using the math symbols. And your shirt says unite. So obviously you’re wearing your values, but they’re talking about wearing your values down to the actual fiber. And this company, their shirts. In the T shirt world, you have a choice of pretty much 100% cotton shirt or a blend, and they blend their fiber. Sorry. Their T shirts are made from a blend of 25% organic grown US grown cotton and then 25% recycled plastic water bottles. I’m sorry, 50% plastic water bottles and 25% model. And model is a cellulose fiber that comes from Beech trees, which come from managed forests. Very sustainable.

And the more I read about that, I thought, gosh, I really need to get a little more thoughtful about my threads. I’m worried about what they say, but I haven’t really thought about the garment itself. And as I kept reading about this company gosh, their initial purpose was to try to end poverty and the cycle of child abandonment.

And so they went into villages, Honduras and Puerto France, and they have these factories that they’ve partnered with, and they take the local people and pay them three to four times the local wage. On top of that, they offer the employees an opportunity to get a diploma on site at their offices if they would like. If these people come from a village where they don’t have clean water, they give them containers and send them home with clean water every night after they leave work.

And if that’s not enough, they have, well, women’s opportunities for healthcare, and they have childcare on site. So this company really puts a lot of thought and intention and compassion in their products. As you might suspect, this product costs me a little bit more for me to print on. And my margin is obviously not as easy as if I chose a lesser quality garment. But I feel better about it. I feel much better about it.

And when we think about not only the impact on the people who make these, but we’re also taking six water bottles out of the ocean or out of the landfill every time they make one of these shirts. And then you wear this shirt next to your body. Your skin is your biggest organ. Right. And you wear this all day long. So the matter is what you put up against your skin all day. So I decided it was time to get more.

That’s actually thoughtful about my threads, and I shifted from the manufacturers I had been using to using this garment 100%.

Dr. Robin

Well, it feels really good. I actually recall I have a couple of your other shirts, and this one does feel different.


Yeah, it’s the model, and it’s so interesting that 25% modal. It comes from beach tree pole and beach trees, if you think about that. In contrast to cotton, cotton is a tremendously thirsty crop. And model is 6% of the impact on the environment that cotton is so 6%, it’s crazy. And so a lot less water. And when they plant cotton, they come in and they plow a field and they sow it, and they have to water it, and they have to do all the things to grow this cotton. Whereas trees are just out there living, and they’re living in creating a little ecosystem for all of the different bugs and fungus and the birds.

And so they have this purpose while they’re alive. Then we harvest them at a sustainable rate because the pulp that they do use for these shirts is from managed forests. So they’re very responsible in their thinking. But again, how much better is it to use a product that actually, when it’s alive, it provides something for our environment as opposed to scraping the land and planting seeds and pouring water into the soil.

Dr. Robin

Okay, so we’ve talked about another hot button for me is the environment, environment nutrition movement works. I think we’ve covered the quadrants of well being. The word quadrants of well being. Yes. Mechanical, chemical, energetical, psychospiritual. Yes. Now I can see why we’ve been drawn to each other. It’s interesting thinking about words, thinking about environment, thinking about how we are impacting other people. I typically wear shirt, and most people know this is the good people from my friend Chris Wittenberg with people movement. And it’s amazing how many people say, I love your shirt, I love your shirt.

And I’m sure you hear that all the time, too. And it’s so nice when people actually stop for a minute and say, wow, okay, wait a minute. There’s a different choice here.


Kindness absolutely matters. And I do believe that there was just this moment in time, and I include myself in this where we took a lot of things for granted, and we just assumed that the world we lived in this little bubble and suddenly different personalities and priorities were emboldened and people became more vocal. Those divisions became so much more apparent. I love the Unite shirt because it’s actually spelled Y-O-U-N-I-T-E because it starts with each of us and finding common ground with someone looking at those divisions that are so easy to default to and realizing at the end of the day, we all have so much in common.

And finding that common ground and just being kind goes an awful long way. Maybe listening with a different ear and wondering about things.

Dr. Robin

Well, first of all, I love your message. I’m even loving you more, and I really love your sister in law. So Samantha is just a light in the world. So I’m curious, how does thoughtful threads connect other people?


Well, as you mentioned, I used to have a gym, and I always noticed myself in this way. I suspect we’re all a bit like this. We have a lucky T shirt. We have a lucky bracelet. We have power pants or shoes that make us feel more empowered. Whatever it is, we all have a thing. And when we put it on, it just either reminds us of a time when we really overcame something or we connect.

And so whatever it is, I used to work out and I had a lucky shirt. Whenever I would wear it, I felt like I was just extra strong or extra fast, and it reminded me of something. And so that connection of words and providing confidence and empowerment. I think that’s super important. So creating garments that have a message on them, to your point, when you wear them, people notice them and they say, oh my gosh, I love your shirt.

The one I’m wearing today, which is an equal sign, a greater than sign, and a divided sign. And so people will kind of look at me like, oh, I get it, I get it. This cool equals greater than divided. I love your shirt. And so it sparks a conversation, and in most cases, it will create a connection. Sometimes they make a new friend. Sometimes I just make someone smile. I have a shirt that has the word smile on it, and the bottom of the s is a smiley face. And I always say, you can’t really wear this shirt and stand in line at the coffee shop with a frown on your face.

So I think these garments bring accountability, too. I mean, it’s accountability for me. When I wear a shirt, that’s a smile not to let my feel bad hang out or display a bad attitude. And remember that passing a smile along makes a difference. If I wear a shirt that says Unite, well, that holds me accountable. It holds me accountable to live my values, and it also can spark a conversation or encourage someone else to do the same.

Dr. Robin

I totally agree. My business name is called Your Wellness Connection. It’s reconnecting people back to themselves. And when I wear a shirt that has a word on it, if I’m acting different than that, I’m a fraud. And I think all of us want to be congruent, whether it’s with saying that we believe, we think that well being is important, yet we have diet soda in our house. People come to my house and say, okay, you got hot water, you got tea, you got cold water, you got Lacroix, or you have that’s your choices, they’re like, okay, hot, cold, regular bottle, whatever. I try not to have a lot of bottled stuff here, so it’s fascinating to hear your story. Who do you think inspired you to think about these things?

I can go back when I was a teenager. Can you think of a story of somebody that inspired you, whether it’s around your fitness or around the way you eat or the way you think, or just the way you try to unite people or bring a positive attitude into any situation? Who do you think inspired you?


I think early on you were mentioning someone telling you that you can do anything comment or my dad. Early on, I was not a particularly I was a little kid. I was tiny for my age, and I remember feeling like there were things I couldn’t do. I try out for a volleyball team, but I was too short, or I would try out for this and that, and I was too small. And I would sometimes complain about my size.

And my dad would say to me, well, don’t forget, diamonds in Dynamite are also not very big, reminding me that my value was not dependent upon my stature or that my ability to create a big impact was not reliant upon my stature. And I think in some ways, he was a little ahead of his time. He had a daughter, and I think he looked at me and thought, I think she could do some great things if I just tell her that she can do it. So along with that, he instilled some really good values and work ethic. My mom is a very compassionate person. She gave a lot of her time to things that were important to her, and she also gardened and loved flowers, and she found her happiness, and her soul is being out in the yard digging. But my dad was really good with his hands. They’re very different for me. I’ve turned out completely different from them in many ways.

But I think that the fiber is there, the fiber the inspiration to be a good person, to be loving, to do things with your hands, to give my dad used to say all the time of he that has much is required. So I feel like I’m pretty blessed. I’ve got talent, I have education, I have support, and I have a terrific life. And so it would be not very nice of me to not share and give to other people and try to bring them to that same place very rarely.

Dr. Robin

My speechless that I totally agree. As I mentioned, this is a very special month for me to invite our listeners to maybe tune in later this evening and hear me talk about 30 years about why I do what I do and how thoughtful that how intentional I am of what I do on a daily basis, even moment to moment. And so we’re very intentional about spending time with you today. Sheryl, thank you for sharing your heart with our listeners on Small Changes, Big Shifts. I do know, without a doubt, one of the best ways to build rhythm and resilience is to plant seeds of hope goodness, not only in yourself, but other people. You never know where they’re going to grow.

Sheryl, I always like to wrap up the show. Is there a quote that is inspiring you today that you’d like to share with our listeners?


I have so many. I’m kind of a quote person, but the one that I refer to often is, “you cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” It’s a Mark Twain quote. And obviously, being creative and designy, I lean towards the value of an imagination, but I think that can also be a non artistic quote.

You can’t depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus. Imagination how you can contribute, much like you’re saying, small changes, big shifts. Use your imagination. What is that small change you can make? It doesn’t have to be what everyone expects. I mean, you can use your imagination.

Dr. Robin

That’s powerful. My quote today. And I want to think about a song, too. The song that’s coming to my mind today is people need people. And it’s a beautiful song. We’ll have it in the show notes for you to download. And no one goes alone. And so, Sheryl, I’m grateful. You’re part of my tribe. Here’s the quote that I picked, my spirit picked for our time the other day. “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” Thank you for the wisdom you dropped today.

To all of you listening today, thanks for following us on Small Changes, Big Shifts, grateful to our sponsors, Advent Health and Community America Credit Union, for all the good and all the thoughtful ways they continue to contribute to our community and our world. You never know how far the ripple will go. I’m sure that John and Carol Lakeen 40 plus years ago who said you can be who you want to be? Never thought that the ripple that they planted in my soul would create what it’s done? So thank you for listening to small changes big shifts. Hey, if you get a chance tune in tonight to my Facebook live where I’ll be chatting about 30 years, 30 days and 30,000 blessings to all of you.



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