Preserving Over a 100 Year Old Craft

A note from an owner:

I started working at the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill in 1995 and there were so many things passed down from generation to generation because “That was how it was done.” As a new employee I did what I was taught and didn’t really think about it.

For instance, when we took in comforter launders and if they were very soiled we wrote a #3 in red marker on the tag. This way, the person who did the laundering knew to give that comforter extra attention and perhaps even pre-soak it overnight. One day I asked, “Why number three? What is number one and two?” No one knew the answer. It was just how it’s done and it worked. We all knew what the red number three meant and that’s fine.

As time went on and I became the manager and later owner with my husband Matt, we started to think differently. While ‘because that’s how it was done’ worked for 100 years, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be improved upon. We made changes, we researched why we were doing things rather than just doing them. We got educated.

Society today is different. We want to know how things are done and why they are done in a certain way. We want transparency, and that’s a good thing.

One of the really interesting things about the Frankenmuth Woolen Mill is that, for over 100 years, we do most everything in house and are almost a vertical company. We scour the wool, pick it clean and card it all in the same building on most of the same machinery since 1894. Because the wool processing has always been so transparent, it was always easy to know that we were turning out a great product all the time. Our goal was to make our wool sourcing just as straightforward. 

We always purchased our wool from wool brokers. While we asked our brokers all about the farms we couldn’t know for sure ~ there just wasn’t the transparency we felt we needed. Last year, one of our wholesale partners introduced us to a wool consortium called Fibershed which is located in California. We have been so lucky to be able to collaborate with Fibershed and be introduced to ranchers who believe in a Carbon Farm Plan and with whom we share the same ethical business principles.

Last week  we were fortunate enough to be highlighted in a Fibershed blog about our new partnership. We are so fortunate to be part of breaking new ground in sustainable manufacturing.

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