Every once in a while I read about a business that thrills me both with its concepts and its success.
Sarah Oliver has a degree in Economics, but when her first child was born left her job to be at home with her. She started knitting handbags for family and friends, then discovered felted bags and got even more interested. She began to design her own bags. Then started her own small business – Sarah Oliver Handbags. Orders came in too fast for her to keep up. She was advised to outsourch abroad to keep expenses down, but she decided to find help closer to home.
She turned to a local senior retirement community to find knitters. Offered to pay per piece. The result is the Purlettes + 1, a group of women (and one man – who loves being the “plus one”) in their 80s and 90s who do all of the knitting for Sarah’s bags. Sarah meets with them every week, collects finished work, hands out more yarn, and tells them what’s happening in the company. The knitters make enough to pay for all sorts of little extras, but say that the knitting and the social aspect are just as important to them.
Once knitting is complete, the bags are felted. The result is a tightly woven wool textile, the “shell” of the handbag. Shells are then finished by hand by another team, with metal hardware, leather bases and straps, magnetic closures encased in leather, fabric interiors, etc.
Sarah loves her team, and has no intention of changing the way she runs her business. She features the Purlettes+1 on her website and is very proud of their work.
I love her success, and hope it continues!