Treewool vegan knitwear is a new and impossibly beautiful all-vegan collection of knit wears designed and created with ethical materials from San Francisco-based on-the-move vegan, Kristen Blackmore, who graciously answered our burning questions about the gorgeous line!
VOTM: What/who inspired you start knitting, and how did that lead to vegan knitting?
KB: My mom taught me the basics of knitting when I was 14, and after that I got really into knitting. I bought a lot of ugly wool blended yarns at Michael’s craft stores, and made many terrible, itchy, scarves and sweaters. I even started a knitting club at my high school. I went vegetarian when I was 16, and I remember talking with my vegan friend, who himself had just learned about mulesing and the wool industry. I immediately felt like I should stop buying wool, but I was a little timid, and didn’t know where to start. I went into a yarn shop with a pattern that called for some sort of wool yarn and wound up letting the sales person pressure me into buying the yarn the pattern called for.
A year later, I went vegan, and my commitment to a wool-free lifestyle was strengthened. I also started college at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising soon after, which cut in to my knitting time. Once I picked it up again more consistently, I had a lot of fun researching the properties of different non-animal fibers, and experimenting with them. It also helped that I had to take a few textile science classes at FIDM. They were probably one of my least favorite classes while I was at the school, but now I’m realizing the value in them in a big way.
VOTM: When and why did you dream up the Treewool business?
KB: Some form of Treewool has been years in the making. I chose to go to school for fashion design in large part because of my commitment to environmentalism and veganism, and throughout my entire life, without a doubt, I have wanted to start my own business. I’ve loved making clothes for so long, and saw a lot of opportunity in the fashion industry for an eco-clothing line. I’ve had many different ideas for a clothing business, but Treewool didn’t take off until I learned to machine knit.
VOTM: What has been the response so far to Treewool?
KB: Honestly, the initial response has been a little overwhelming. I didn’t expect to be getting picked up by blogs and press that my friends weren’t involved with, or getting wholesale inquiries after just a few months. I’m trying to figure out how to balance everything. I always planned to start small and stay small, so it’s hard to stay grounded and not jump at every opportunity I’m given. Right now, my biggest focus is sustainability. I’m a very small company, so a lot of wholesalers with the really cool eco-friendly and recycled yarns I lust over won’t work with me in the quantities I need, so I have to get creative to keep my footprint low. I’m working on new ways to produce collections that aren’t as wasteful, and looking at my everyday business choices that could be made in a more environmentally responsible manner.
VOTM: What advice do you have for aspiring crafty vegans?
KB: My advice to crafty vegan folks would be to put a lot of effort into sustainability. You can find accidentally vegan clothing, makeup, accessories, and housewares quite easily at large retail chains like Target and H&M. Handmade is so important, but the greatest part of making handmade goods is that is having the freedom to say, “these are my standards, and this is what’s important to me”.
And respect your work, because if you don’t, then no one else will. It makes me so sad to see folks pricing their gorgeous handmade items at budget retail prices. You put so much of yourself into it, let people give you something back!
Thank you so much, Kristen! Everyone can check out Kristen’s gorgeous fall line here.
Okay, I know that food hasn’t really been mentioned yet, and that Vegan MoFo is all about the food, so here you go. Kristen of Treewool is also the author of the fascinating blog, The Noochy Noodle. Yes, it’s all about vegan mac and cheese. I perused her site for my personal favourite, and I think that if I were to have to eat one vegan mac and cheese for the rest of my life, it would be this one. Behold, the Truffle Mac and Cheese from The Source in San Francisco. Why did Source have to open after my brief San Francisco tenure?!