Meet The Knotty Ones: Celebrating local heritage and making sustainable knits that look cool
We had a chat with Danute, Co-founder of The Knotty Ones. Danute shared with us that the perfect knit can be created by celebrating local heritage, being sustainable, while also looking cool.
The Knotty Ones makes beautiful knitwear pieces inspired by local Northern traditions. Timeless knits built to last from the finest, natural fibers.
The brand employs female craftswomen in rural areas of Lithuania. The majority of them live in villages and small towns where jobs are extremely scarce. They ensure that they earn fair wages and are able to provide for themselves and their beautiful families.
1) The Knotty Ones is a women-led business from top to bottom. Where did the idea of creating this inspiring knitwear brand come from?
The idea for The Knotty Ones really came while having lunch with two of my closest friends, now business partners. All three of us are Lithuanian natives, and we met to catch up after months of traveling. Very casually, we started chatting about how it was a pity that in Lithuania we had such beautiful traditions of knitting, but the craft itself was slowly dying. No one was making cool sustainable knits and the streets were being taken over by fast fashion. And just like that, maybe after one too many mimosas, we decided to create that perfect knit ourselves. One that was sustainable, celebrated local heritage and actually looked cool.
"But at the end of the day, we want you to buy our knits because you think they look damn stylish."
2) What sets The Knotty Ones apart from other knitwear brands?
Fashion gets a bad rap when it comes to garment workers and the environment. Very deservingly so. But we wanted to prove that style and having a positive impact doesn’t need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they can go in hand. We have a beautiful social agenda, employing women in marginalized communities in Lithuania where jobs are extremely scarce. Paying them fair living wages and helping and mentoring them towards achieving their career goals. But at the end of the day, we want you to buy our knits because you think they look damn stylish.
3) Your production takes place in Lithuania, what was the reason behind this decision?
Myself and the other two co-founders, Akvile and Sandra, were born and raised in Lithuania. We wanted to celebrate our Baltic heritage and the local craft of knitting, so it felt only natural to kick off our production there. But as we are growing quickly, we’re definitely not against the idea of replicating our production model in other marginalized communities outside of Lithuania.
4) How do you make sure that the working conditions are safe for your knitters?
We work with each knitter individually to create a flexible schedule that works best for her — be it knitting while her kids do homework, in the evenings watching telly with her family, or in the company of other knitters. Being a stay-at-home mom in a rural area has its challenges already. We want to help — not to add to that.
We also work with a number of female-founded, family-run factories in rural Lithuania. We audit those factories very carefully to make sure that all safety requirements are met. Women are earning fair living wages, they have access to paid sick leave, maternity leave and healthcare benefits.
5) How has knitting for The Knotty Ones made an impact on these women's lives?
I think for many of these women, being part of The Knotty Ones means financial independence from their husbands, getting to be an active voice in their households or their communities. They are able to contribute to building generational wealth, and create new opportunities for their sons and daughters.
6) Can you tell us about the ‘knitters fund’ and explain why our customers should donate?
We wanted to create a platform that gave our knitters a realistic shot at achieving their bigger, wilder dreams. Every customer can donate an extra 10 euros whilst purchasing any knit, that goes directly towards fulfilling a knitter’s personal dream. Most of these dreams are aimed towards personal development, whether it be taking English courses or getting their driver's license. Every donation enables us to give these women something that they have always dreamt of. While many of these dreams might seem easily achievable to most of us, they are not for millions of garment workers around the world.
7) What are your three favourite items on Rêve Ultime?