Why not enjoy the luxury of cashmere while on a wilderness adventure?
That’s what Beth Nielsen, owner of Seattle, Wash.-based Vintage Creations (www.vintagecreation.com), thought when she decided to bring her recycled cashmere and fur apparel and accessories to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
“I feel that we have a lot of products that work well with the Outdoor Retailer crowd,” she told SNEWS, while prepping for the company's debut appereance at the show, Jan. 19-22, 2012 in Salt Lake City. “We have a cashmere hat that’s perfect for cycling and arm warmers to keep their arms warm while out snowboarding.” Plus, she said, “Recycled products are very in for this decade. I just happened to always be doing them, but now they’re en vogue.”
When Nielsen was 6, her mother taught her how to sew. After getting a business degree and starting a family, Nielsen started stitching baby clothing for her daughter. She began seeking out second-hand sweaters and vintage apparel and creating something new from them.
“I’ve always loved textiles and I loved older things,” Nielsen explained. “In a lot of ways the older textiles are so much better than what we see here today.”
She started a line of children’s clothing in 1998 under the Vintage Creations banner, and shifted gears when she realized that creating adult apparel cost just as much but got a better return on investment.
For the past 13 years, Nielsen has been sourcing apparel from all over the world. She purchases pieces that others might consider unusuable, brings them home, washes them, dyes them and cuts and hand stitches them into her chic creations. She finds stained, moth-eaten sweaters with hidden appeal, and cuts around the flaws to craft something beautiful.
And, Nielsen said to anyone who might be leery of using cashmere during sweaty activities, the fabric actually handles moisture well.
“Cashmere is fine with sweat and any moisture as long as it’s not hot water or heat like in a dryer,” Nielsen said. “You can wash cashmere and lay it flat to dry. And it feels so good if you’ve ever felt it on your skin.”
Plus, Nielsen’s designs follow the ongoing trend of moving easily from the slopes to the streets, allowing consumers to get more bang for their buck.
“I like to find something that’s fashionable and wearable,” Nielsen said. “I like to dress chic but comfortable. I’m an active person with three kids and I’m always on the go. I like items that are easy to wear but look nice.”
One of the best pieces of advice Nielsen ever received was before she even opened her own business — work smarter, not harder. So she works smarter. Though, like other small businesses, she’s faced challenges stemming from the past recession’s credit crunch, she has kept her financials in order so she could continue to purchase apparel to recycle.
She covers as many trade shows as possible, but doesn’t overload herself. With owning her own business, she said, comes the independence to make such decisions.
“It allows me freedom to do my own schedule,” Nielsen said. Attending Outdoor Retailer will give her exposure to ski and outdoor retailers located near cold mountain resorts — she's hoping they’ll pick up her new reversible Aviator hat with recycled fur and leather (MSRP $98), for example.
“Where it’s cold, I do well,” Nielsen said. “I’m looking forward to meeting some new retailers there. I think my products will be great for their weather.”