1. How did your business develop?
My family has always supported farmers’ markets and local food, and we enjoy designing and sewing. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked if I could sew him a pair of pants, made of locally sourced fabric. That question, combined with my daughter’s love of history and fashion spurred me to investigate our local fiber and fashion industries. As I got to know alpaca farmers, sheep farmers, and some mill owners, I became more and more enthusiastic about making fabric and fashion from regional materials.
2. Who are the key players in your business?
There are many small businesses in the area that are key to our work. Fiber farmers and processors, dye farmers, dyers and professional hand weavers are some of the major contributors to Winter Moose. My family also plays a big part as we work together on all aspects of the business, design and sewing.
3. Does geography play a role in your business?
Absolutely. We make all our design and product choices based on what materials, technology and skills are available in New England and especially Vermont. Keeping our sources regional makes it easier to ensure quality and also requires us to stay connected with the land here – the farms and the seasons.
4. Who benefits from your business?
The global textile industry is one of Earth’s top polluters of the environment and we provide an alternative to that. Our products contain only natural fibers and plant based dyes.
Winter Moose helps the environment by keeping the twenty (or more) steps, from fiber and dye farms to fashion construction as close together as possible. This makes our carbon footprint very low and has the added benefit of stimulating our local economy. Supporting local economy is an integral part of our mission.
5. What makes Winter Moose unique?
As designers of small runs of textiles and made to fit accessories, we are involved in every step of our production. We know where our fiber comes from and who spins it into yarn. For example, by working with local craftspeople, we can be assured that our buttons are made from locally reclaimed wood and finished with natural oils. We personally meet with weavers to discuss textile patterns and can make sure that no synthetic fragrances or formaldehyde get added to our fabric during manufacture.
We are committed to creating a clean, all natural line with no petrochemical preservatives, sizings, detergents, fragrances or dyes – for the health of our craftspeople, our customers and the entire planet.
6. What about timing of the business is significant?
I think people are starting to care about what their clothes are made of. People are concerned about fair wages and environmental toxins in the fashion industry. I think raising awareness about these issues is important and creating high quality, natural alternatives is key in this process.
7. What is the vision behind the name Winter Moose?
We wanted a name that would “feel right” for our fashion and connect our brand with the land. In Vermont, Winter is a time of quiet that often inspires profound thoughts. The moose is Vermont’s largest, strongest native animal. It has an elegance that is a part of the rural individuality of the North East. I like to think that our commitment to the slow and detailed process of making elegant fashion from the ground up is reflected in this name.
8. What is Winter Moose doing now and where do you see yourselves going in the future?
We are making hats, gloves and cowls at the moment. As we expand, we will add vests, bags and knitting kits. Eventually, our goal is to produce outerwear as well.
9. Do you have a particular research process you use when starting a new collection?
There are three major influences that we rely on for our design and inspiration. The plants and animals of Vermont inform our choices of color, texture and pattern. Our love of historic fashion from diverse times and places inspires our creativity and we hope to purvey a sense of dignity, practicality and elegance in all of our work.
10. Who are your favorites designers?
My favorite designers are Lilli Ann, Armani, Ralph Lauren and Dolce and Gabbana.
Text Editor, L.T. Clayton