Rivaling any upscale knit accessory, Faustine Badrichani and Margaux Rousseau’s pieces are the perfect companion to soft sweaters and smart urban outerwear. But when it comes to who produces the WOOLN’s pretty pieces, the brand definitely deviates from the norm.
The French transplants both wanted to start their own NYC business, and since Rousseau was an adept knitter, the idea for a line came pretty naturally. But they also wanted an empowering ethos attached to their work — which is where the idea to incorporate retired knitters stemmed from.
“We were both surprised to see so little older people on the streets,” said Badrichani. “We decided that there was something that could be done to involve this part of the population back in the active economy.”
After inquiring at almost 40 senior centers throughout the city, the pair started off with four knitters. But as word spread and their brand grew, they started bringing more onto the team.
“Being both away from home and our families, this venture has been a way to recreate a big family away from home,” Badrichani explained.
Designing the pieces is a collaborative effort with the older women. They conceptualize colors and consider which yarn to use, then the knitters work to make a pattern that is easy to replicate. The results are a far-cry from your typical hand-knit hat from a relative. The pieces both sophisticated and subdued — available in smart neutrals as well as bright hues. They’re knit with responsibly-sourced natural fibers like cashmere, merino wool and alpaca. The New York seniors also make at least 1/3 of the garments’ wholesale price.
Badrichani, Rousseau and their older knitting experts are currently in the middle creating new designs for women, introducing new colors, and expanding their brand to more retail locations. More information about them can be found on their website.