The New York-Made Beanies Knit by Grandmothers
Margaux Clermontel, Founder of WOOLN
Los Angeles, CA
I am Margaux, an avid knitter, yarn lover, yoga addict, mum of 2 and entrepreneur. I was raised in the south of France, and moved to different places in the last 20 years: the UK, Italy, New Zealand, Australia and the US. I quit my ‘serious’ job as an HR consultant 8 years ago to spend more time doing what I really like. Since then, I have worked for different yarn companies, have kept learning about fibers and knitting techniques and created 2 businesses I’m passionate about.
I now live in LA and travel regularly to NYC, where WOOLN and my fantastic business partner Faustine are based. I get inspiration from people I meet, watching indie movies, and going to museums. Craft fairs are also a great source of ideas as I find many bridges between pottery, waving, wood work and knitting.
WOOLN is a winter accessories brand that created a cross-generation community of New York based senior knitters, welcoming retirees back into the active workforce, and giving their craftsmanship the recognition it deserves. All the pieces (hats, scarves, etc.) are labeled with the knitter’s name and each grandmother has a biography on the webpage so customers can put a face to the hands who meticulously knit their piece.
When I met Faustine in early 2015 we both wanted to start a business; we had a great connection and instant trust. Being two French transplants in New York has played a great role is starting WOOLN. We brainstormed ideas and naturally came up with this original concept; the main drive to work with seniors came from the assessment that we did not see nearly as many seniors out and about in the city, as compared to Paris or Bordeaux (where we’re both from). It felt like they were not part of the city life as much as it is the case in Europe. We really wanted to bring their talent to the forefront and share it by including them into the economy, having them be part of a project and building bonds between generations.
And let’s face it, people with experience do things better. A knitter who has been knitting for more than 30 years has gold in her fingers!
WOOLN is all about community, and creating bonds between different communities; we strongly believe those relationships definitely benefit everyone.
On one side, we have this community of senior knitters, who have an amazing talent, and who can handcraft such beautiful objects, and on the other side, we have a community of consumers who care a lot about what they wear and who understand that anything they buy makes a difference in some way. I think WOOLN is unique for that.
Each beanie / snood is labeled with the knitter name and all our wonderful grannies have a biography on the website so people actually know who made their favorite winter accessorize. Their personal stories behind each knit make every piece of clothing we sell unique. Icing on the cake: our yarn is the softest and ethically sourced.
At WOOLN, we believe we can make clothes in a way that feels good for everyone; the creator, the maker and the consumer. That is something we’re deeply passionate about and every step of the production is important to us. We take great care in ethically sourcing our yarns and collaborating with a company that values the artisans who craft the yarn. Our beanies have an unusual story behind their creation process and our goal is to make sure that everyone feels that.
Being able to trace the knitter of your hat on the website gives you a glimpse into whose hands meticulously crafted it. People tend to feel as if the grandmother has made it especially for them. And for our knitters, having something they’ve made with so much care, be sold and marketed in a thoughtful way gives a new perspective to what they have been doing for so long and with passion: knitting.
We want to keep our designs simple, versatile and unisex, it’s the essence of our brand, so we always keep simplicity in mind. That said, my favorite product, which is also the most adventurous and most romantic (and not really unisex) is the Suri Turban.