Blog 2022 - Part Two
-- Ralph@WeatherWool.com / 973-943-3110 (mobile)
2022--09-30 ... Remnants and Weaving Selvedge
Somewhat to our surprise, the tailoring remnants that we didn't have a use for but couldn't bring ourselves to throw away have been fairly popular with customers. A few months ago, we decided to offer bags of Remnants as (sort of) a product. And much to our surprise, a lot of Remnants were ordered. So many that we ran out of remnants we had here at the house (YAY!), and I needed to make a run out to Pennsylvania, where we have some odds and ends in storage. I originally priced the Remnants at $15, but the shipping was often more than that, particularly given that quite a few bags went to Canada. So, as of now, the price is $20.
Along these lines, we had stored in Pennsylvania another type of remnant ... Weaving Mill Selvedge. So, I returned home yesterday with a good load of Remnants and some Weaving Mill Selvedge. May as well see if anyone can do something with it!
2022-09-29 ... "Would You Wear Plastic?"
Some recent posts here have been about the environmental-impact aspects of wool versus synthetic clothing. I still think attention should be focused on the quality comparisons, but environmental aspects are lately drawing people toward woolens.
Woolmark is the marketing and education arm of the Australian Wool Industry. They put out a lot of great information and WeatherWool gratefully acknowledges their work on behalf of everyone who loves wool. This website frequently links to material from Woolmark, and these photos are borrowed with GREAT THANKS from Woolmark's Instagram post of a week ago:
Wool has nowhere to go but UP and I think the pendulum is already swinging in the Natural direction. WOOL STOMPS THE COMP!
2022-09-28 ... Instagram Story, Poll, "the best" ... We sell Fabric
We don't advertise in the usual sense. That is, we don't run paid ads anywhere. But this website, plus YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are important advertising media. It's pretty great that people can search YouTube, or the web itself, and find us. Instagram is also important to us, and we need to get a lot better at it, particularly me. Lately, Denali has taken over Instagram. Today, she "reposted a story". An Instagram story disappears in a day, whereas a typical post is permanent. It's good Denali handles, because I don't understand more than the basics. When I saw this story ...
This story was the basis of my Instagram lesson for today!
... I was a little distressed, because I thought it was Denali saying "the best". I'm careful to say we are "trying to be the best". And I would love to test, on an All-Purpose basis, against anything else. But I don't feel it's our place to say we're better than anything else. Denali explained about "reposting" someone else's story, and here is a still from the original story (which is a video clip):
THANKS to Ruby and West of @Madrona.Wear for this post describing us as the “Best wool fabric in the US, maybe world”!!
Denali reposted the story from Madrona Wear. And if someone else says we're the "Best wool fabric in the US, maybe world", I'm happy to accept the compliment, although I also want to know about the "maybe" part.
The other part of my Instagram lesson is that Denali added a poll question, and people did request more information. We are happy to sell Fabric, and we love to see what people do with our Fabric. Madrona has made custom pieces with our Fabric for a number of people, including themselves. We first "met" Ruby and West when Ruby ordered an Anorak for herself. And, as the saying goes, one thing led to another. We are happy to recommend Madrona to people who want custom pieces made.
And I have a lot more social media and web lessons in my future...2022-09-27 ... Water? ... Pajamas?
The entry from 17 September covered the London Fashion Film Festival's award of Best Documentary to Why Wool Matters. The amazing thing to Debby and me is that the film did not present information about why wool makes such great clothing. And now I'm hearing about people who want to invest in wool and woolens and the wool industry because ... because growing wool and turning it into clothing uses much less water than growing cotton and making cotton clothing. Again, the focus really surprises me.
A few days ago, a Friend of WeatherWool ordered a CPO. He called today to tell me he needed to size up. BUT, his Mrs was keeping the one they already have. We really love it when The Mrs likes our wool, partly because of the great finish created by the team at American Woolen. He also said we need to make pajamas!
2022-09-26 ... Coming Soon: Wool-Lined Wetsuits for Surfers
Not from us. But I just saw an Instagram post. Australian surfboard maker Haydenshapes is working with clothing maker Dion Lee and The Woolmark Company (Australian Wool Industry group) to make wetsuits lined with merino for surfing. I have never surfed, and have never worn a wetsuit, so I can only say I am happy to see wool used in a way I would not have expected. I'll need to talk to some people who wear wetsuits and surf. The wetsuit line debuted this month at New York Fashion Week. (I don't know fashion, either.)
This wetsuit is lined with Merino Wool
I hope Haydenshapes will be OK with me using this photo from their post.
THANKS!! (in advance!)
For years, our wool has been worn by divers under dry suits. And one of the world's most famous SCUBA teams wears our wool AFTER diving. But a wetsuit is a whole new thing.
2022-09-25 ... Thanks to Everyone Who Stopped By Today!
We had a really nice time with our Open House guests today. Some guests new, some old, and some sort-of-old but we had never met face-to-face before. It's always a kick for us that people are interested in what we are doing!
We had a little fun with a slight young woman trying on a Mouton Greatcoat that we'd made quite a while back for a guy who was twice (at least!) her size. She topped off with a Mouton Hat.
2022-09-24 ... Well, this is Interesting!
We very much appreciate appreciate reprinting this short piece -- from Apparel Insider – concerning the donation to a charity of Patagonia (the clothing company) by its founder:
VENTURA -Yvon Chouinard, the billionaire owner of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, has given away the company to a charitable trust which will inject any profits not reinvested in the business into fighting climate change.
The 83-year-old founded Patagonia in 1973. He said the new ownership structure would potentially see US$100m annually being given away to environmental causes.
The Chouinard family and existing executives will continue to run the business.
The Patagonia label has amassed a cult following due to its sustainability work. The company made global headlines for its famous advert titled “Don’t buy this jacket” asking shoppers to think about environmental issues. The irony of the campaign is that it was hugely successful in terms of raising the company’s profile and potential sales to a wider audience.
Patagonia’s website states: “Earth is now our only shareholder.”
Mr Chouinard, a rock climbing enthusiast, once went on record as stating that he “never wanted to be a businessman.”
Founded in 1973, Patagonia’s sales were worth around US$1.5bn this year. Chouinard’s net worth is thought to be US$1.2bn.
I would be very interested to hear Mr Chouinard's thoughts on woolens.
2022-09-23 ... Shipping
Today is all shipping and inventory work.
One cool thing ... Shipping an Anorak to Kuwait today. First time we have shipped to Kuwait although Military people have been all over the Middle East with our wool.
And last night, a customer from Alaska sent me a great video. He was hunting moose for his winter's meat, and hurt his ankle, which meant sitting an ATV instead of hiking. On the seat of his ATV was his Lynx CPO ...
... when a real Lynx came along!
2022-09-22 Again ... ALONE: FROZEN Finale and Mountain Men
At 8PM Eastern tonight there will likely be people on History Channel's Mountain Men wearing WeatherWool. We never know in advance what footage will air. The Mountain Men also don't know ... they find out when they watch, same as everyone else.
Immediately following Mountain Men, at 9PM, also on the History Channel, is the Season Finale of ALONE: FROZEN. Three women are still struggling to last 50 days on the Labrador Coast. Whoever makes Day 50 gets a share of $500,000. Six people started and three women remain, one of whom, Callie Russell, is wearing one of our Anoraks. More info about ALONE here.
2022-09-22 ... NYC Change-up and Hooded Jackets
Debby and Alex spent the day at Factory8 in the Garment District of New York City. Advisor JR Morrissey had just completed work on a nice batch of MidWeight Lynx Pattern Hooded Jackets. Debby and Alex (mostly) do the Quality Control, so I stayed home. Factory8 did a great job (YAY!)! After a day of final QC examinations, they returned with the Jackets in early evening, and the Jackets are now available.
I'm pretty sure this was the first time Debby and Alex did an NYC run. I picked up granddaughter Zabz after school and we spent a few hours together before Debby and Daddy returned. I spoiled her as best I could, but she's a very focused kid!
We're shipping the Hooded Jackets now and getting ready for an Open House on Sunday.
Also ... it looks like in the next few weeks we'll be making a small run of CPO Shirts with extra-long sleeves. Please let me know if you want.
Welcome to Fall, everyone!! (Welcome to Spring if you're in the Southern Hemisphere!)
2022-09-21 ... International Again
It's a kind of weird coincidence that much of my earnings for the 30 years before WeatherWool came from outside the USA. At AT&T in 1979 and into the 1980s, I was a contractor with "Long Lines", which focused on long-distance connections, including international calls. And then, although Bell Labs was sponsored domestically, I worked with a group that focused on international sales of telephone-system operations software. After "The Labs", it was an Japanese-based trading group at Morgan Stanley. I was in NYC, but the group was funded by earnings from Tokyo. And then with the hedge fund research, for 10 years almost all our revenue was from outside the USA.
With WeatherWool, I never expected or thought about an international presence. Canada was natural enough ... there is almost no language barrier and no import duty. And the Canadian border is only 6 hours by car.
But it's an unexpected and really delightful surprise that international customers and work is an important and frequent part of WeatherWool. Our products have always been and will remain 100% American, but we are honored by the international interest in our company.
This morning (it's not yet 7AM):
- I got another note from the China-based scamsters (see yesterday's blog). I did not reply to the note, but reserved the domain WeatherWool.CN for 5 years for $30. It will forward to this site.
- We are hoping to soon have a Japanese-language website (see the Japanese entry on the Main Menu!) and I need to get back to Jeremiah Goodman, our Advisor in Japan. Jeremiah is an American who, together with his Japanese wife, is raising his children in Nagano Prefecture, in the mountains a few hours from Tokyo. Jeremiah wrote me suggesting more video. That's a big YES! Thanks Jeremiah!
- A very discerning gentleman from Bulgaria wrote to tell me that although he has been searching for a WeatherWool substitute in Europe, he hasn't been able to find one. We are really grateful for Ivan's efforts and kindness.
- The note from Bulgaria reminded me to follow up with Kristof in Hungary, who purchased enough of our Fabric to make several garments. Kristof got back to me right away. He is thrilled with his own garment, but the tailor was still working on his girlfriend's when her (the tailor's) life changed. Hungary has a border with Ukraine, and the tailor is Ukrainian. Her life has been disrupted with the war and with helping refugees. Among other things, she is helping families who have escaped Ukraine to re-unite in Hungary.
- A customer from South Korea, who is looking forward to replacing his All-Around Jacket and Double Hood with new ones, reminded me that I had promised him a USD-KRW exchange rate that is lower than the current. And with another US interest rate hike expected today, the US Dollar will probably continue to increase against the Korean Won.
- And even on the American side, things are international, in a way.
- I'm corresponding now with an American Military Vet who is currently a government contractor looking to get some WeatherWool right away for work that will take him to Northern Hemisphere countries where he'll soon experience some real winter weather. We're hoping we can get him what he wants before he deploys, but we may have to provide him with something temporary, and then switch.
- A commercial seaman who has a few Anoraks, at least one of which is always with him, has just sent several photos of today's glorious sunrise off the East Coast. I think he's still within US waters, but his work takes him into international waters and Caribbean destinations
- An American living in Norway just reserved an Anorak. Except for Canada, we surely have more Norwegian customers -- as a ratio to population -- than any other country
With all the international work (let alone international events) on my mind this morn, the local scene is remarkably peaceful. A sweet morning on the last full day of summer. I see from my office window my neighbors out walking and jogging and heading to the New York City train. Whitetail deer are feeding on my lawn (we use no chemicals at all ... a "wild" lawn offering natural forbs) with very little concern except to keep an eye on the dogs being walked on leashes.
2022-09-20 ... Another Chinese Scam (new one to me)!
On Sunday the 18th, this email was sent to me:
Country Code: US
Name: Wade Liu
Phone: +86-216191 8696
(Please kindly forward this to your CEO, because this is urgent. If you believe this has been sent to you in error, please ignore it. Thanks)
Dear CEO, This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration in China. On 19-09-2022, we received an application from Hongqing Ltd requested "weatherwool" as their internet keyword and China (CN) domain names (weatherwool.cn, weatherwool.com.cn, weatherwool.net.cn, weatherwool.org.cn). But after checking it, we find this name conflict with your company name or trademark. In order to deal with this matter better, it's necessary to send this message to your company and confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China?
Best Regards Wade Liu
Service & Operations Manager
China Registry (Head Office)
16012, Xingdi Building, No. 1698 Yishan Road, Shanghai 201103, China
I wrote Mr Liu that we do NOT have an affiliate in Hong Kong and that we'd appreciate if he would block the domain requests.
Yesterday, I received this note:
To whom it concerns,
We will register the China domain names "weatherwool.cn" "weatherwool.com.cn" "weatherwool.net.cn" "weatherwool.org.cn" and internet keyword "weatherwool" and have submitted our application. We are waiting for Mr. Wade Liu's approval. These CN domains and internet keyword are very important for us to promote our business in China. Although Mr. Wade Liu advised us to change another name, we will persist in this name.
Kind regards, Zhihai Ning
This definitely had me going, so I forwarded the mails to Polson Intellectual Property Law. I also left a voicemail for Margaret Polson. We've relied on Margaret and her team for about 15 years, since before WeatherWool.
Margaret sent a mail back right away, but before I saw the mail, she rang me up to tell me to relax and forget it, explaining this is a very common scam. The idea is to get WeatherWool to agree to pay some money to acquire the domains and to compensate the fake company for backing off their fake business plan. Margaret said many of her clients have received similar notices.
One of the reasons these notes elicited a very strong reaction from me is that for the last two or three years, an apparently Chinese parent company has spawned a bunch of fake and sleazy affiliate companies that run ads using still photos and video stolen from us and others.
In any case, we actually do have a few customers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and with the help of Polson Law, we may register WeatherWool as a trademark in those jurisdictions. A customer from Shanghai is actually in the garment business, and told us WeatherWool would sell extremely well in a certain store in Shanghai.
2022-09-19 ... For Dad ... World Record ... Image/Presentation
Last week we had a conversation with a customer who had just purchased an All-Around Jacket. He had a lot of nice things to say, and we always appreciate that. But also, he had some insights for us. As a businessman with decades of experience, he had analyzed our situation quite well, and i was impressed someone could figure us out so well so quickly. The caller is not an outdoorsman at all. He wanted the wool because it gets cold in New York City. He mentioned walking the dog on Riverside Drive. The winter wind can really howl along the Hudson River. He had been thinking about getting some Filson, and I was amused at his assessment that Filson seeks to appeal to city-folk who want an outdoorsy feel and look but don't really get "out there". I am sure Filson would say they also want to appeal to people who really do get out in Nature and in serious weather. (At this moment, the Filson website landing page shows a guy riding a horse in a stream. On his saddle is a scabbard holding a rifle. He is leading a pack mule and a pack horse, and the horse is carrying elk antlers. The portrayal could hardly be more non-city!) The caller first learned of us when researching Filson and a reviewer suggested WeatherWool as an alternative. The interesting part to me, though, was that the caller said if he had somehow come directly to our site, he would quickly have moved on, because he felt our website indicates we are strictly for heavy-duty outdoor use and not at all intended for urban and suburban customers. I was dismayed to hear that, because we've been trying to convey that WeatherWool -- Hardcore Luxury -- offers hardcore performance in a luxury garment, and is very definitely suitable for a gentleman out for a walk on Riverside Drive. And if Riverside Drive in winter is the most severe situation he (or she!) will face, we'll gladly have our garments evaluated on that basis. But if the New York City stroller is also apt to hit the Adirondacks in January, that's in our wheelhouse too. [Adirondack Park is 3 hours from NYC, 6 million acres (2.5 million hectares) and winter can be severe.] I need to figure out how to make the website look and feel and instantly convey the Hardcore Luxury concept.
I am impressed that one of our customers, Tai Menz of Cape May, New Jersey, is the holder of the Spearfish World Record Weakfish! I think Tai is the only World Record Holder I have ever met. The Jersey Cape, the Southeastern peninsula of Jersey, is a tremendous place for Nature lovers, and Tai is definitely one of those. Debby and I spent a day with Tai about 2 years ago when we were wondering about moving down to the Cape. It's a special place, and is actually America's first resort town. Tai and his record weakfish are both from the Cape, along with the Tautog Spearfish World Record. The Spearfish World Record for Fluke is also from Jersey. Tai is a realtor, and if you have any interest in South Jersey Real Estate, get in touch with Tai.
Tai with his 11.8 pound (5.4 kg) World Spearfishing Record Weakfish in 2009
We really like it when people make their own pieces with our Fabric. A year or so ago, Ruby Spring of Madrona Wear bought an Anorak for herself. Then Ruby and her partner, West Persons, got some of our Fabric to implement their own designs. The first piece they made was for West's Dad!
2022-09-18 ... Inflation, Exchange Rates and Import/Export
WeatherWool exports about 15% of sales, and we do not import anything. With exchange rates what they are, we're on the wrong side of things. Our great friends in Canada are by far our largest export market, and with the Canadian dollar at 75 cents US now, our wool is more expensive North of the border than usual. But at least in Canada, there are no tariffs or import fees. We also have customers in Europe and UK, and exchange rates are severe there, also. The Euro and USD are at parity, which has not happened in 20 years. The dollar has been strong against the British pound for about 5 years, but it hasn't been this strong since 1985. UK and the Eurozone will add import duty to the cost. Plus, they have VAT, which, in the case of imports, is added at time of import. The VAT is included in the purchase price of domestic goods, so it's not noticed as much.
Here in the USA, as everyone knows, prices are really jumping. We purchased a lot of our notions (basically, everything besides our Fabric) well in advance, so we got lucky there. But we're getting price-increase notices from our suppliers. Just one example: cord locks jumped from 18 to 25 cents, which is 39%. Lead times have also lengthened. Now would be a great time to import notions, because we'd get a much wider selection of notions, shorter lead times, lower prices (We could import cord locks for about 10 cents.) and the benefit of a very strong dollar. But we won't import anything except ideas and advice from our many friends around the world.
2022-09-17 ... And the Winner is: WHY WOOL MATTERS
Until Alex flagged to me today a post from the International Wool Trade Organization, I'd never heard of the London Fashion Film Festival. The award for Best Fashion Documentary of the Year was won by WHY WOOL MATTERS, a 20-minute film from The Campaign For Wool, a British-led effort to promote woolen clothing. Congratulations!!
The Patron of the Campaign for Wool is King Charles III, who is very dedicated to carbon sequestration and other means of reducing atmospheric CO2. And perhaps that is the reason the film has nothing at all to say about the performance of woolens. Or perhaps the film was put together specifically for the fashion industry, which is increasingly concerned about various environmental topics but -- strictly my own perspective here! -- seems to regard the performance of clothing as irrelevant. Even so, why not take 30 seconds out of 20 minutes to tout wool's performance?
WOOL STOMPS THE COMP! Maybe the next film will highlight performance!
2022-09-16 ... Padula on How Show Grow Wool
Advisor Bob Padula is a lifelong sheep professional. He has worked with sheep pretty much his whole life, he's studied them in academic settings and in the labs and on the ranges. He has been breeding his own stock for decades, and he's been a consultant to the industry for since the 1990s.
Debby and I visited Bob at his PM Ranch in Minnesota in mid-July. After we (tried to) help Bob and his family weigh, vaccinate and medicate the flock, Bob sat down for a 9-minute video about how and why different types of sheep grow wool with different characteristics.
THANKS for this, Bob! The video is not very good -- sorry!! -- but it is definitely clear enough for the info to come across.
As usual, I learned a great deal. And, as usual, I learned that what I just learned is only a small fraction of what there is to learn. We really appreciate Bob sharing his knowledge and BIG THANKS also to Bob and his family for their hospitality.
2022-09-15 ... Anorakki ... Fabric to NYC
Advisor Anton Kalland is Finnish (he has great skills in English and Swedish, as well as his native Finnish) and a professional outdoorsman. A couple of days ago, his Instagram post, showed his Anorak and he used the tag #Anorakki. I asked him about this, and he explained Anorakki is the Finnish version of the Greenlandic Annoraaq, which Anton said is the original version of the word. It would be great to hear the word spoken as it would have been pronounced centuries ago!
Thanks, Anton, for a cool post and the etymological lesson. An unexpected type of info from an Advisor!
Today we deliver some Batch 6 MidWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric to Factory8 in NYC to make some more Anoraks. We made the MidWeight Lynx Anoraks a few months ago but we need more. Not much Batch 6 Fabric left. Batch 7 coming, but Batch 7 is all FullWeight, so we'll shortly be pretty well out of MidWeight until Batch 8 (which is all Drab).
Right now, the truck is loaded with brush cleared from the yard. We loaded the truck before we knew we were headed to NYC this morning. So ... the first order of business is to get the brush out of the truck!
2022-09-14 ... Alternative Uses of Wool Fiber
Below is a link to a 2018 paper published by the University of Vermont. We used to have millions of sheep in New England, but now, not many. Not surprisingly, the people are struggling to find uses for their wool. You can see prices as low as 7 cents per pound ... We pay about $3.00 per pound, but we're buying very select fiber.
The linked paper talks about using wool for soil treatments, wall insulation and the like. My own take is that we need to prove to more and more people that the best wool makes fantastic clothing. And we will very soon need to raise a lot more of the great wool. Soil treatment may still be a good use for the nasty-bits of wool (from the face, back-end, belly, lower legs), but we need to focus on the great stuff!
This paper was published by University of Vermont Agricultural Extension and funded by the State of Vermont and the United States Department of Agriculture.
2022-09-13 ... Short Video with Jacob Long at American Woolen
American Woolen Company, of Stafford Springs, Connecticut, is vital to WeatherWool. We've known Jacob, the owner, and Giuseppe Monteleone, Plant Manager, since 2018, shortly after Woolrich USA shut down. Without American Woolen, we could not make our Fabric. I visited AWC last Thursday to pick up some Fabric, and did a quick video with Jacob. What I particularly love is Jacob's passion for QUALITY MANUFACTURE and an AMERICAN WOOL ECOSYSTEM.
Jacob Long, proprietor of AWC, talks about American Woolen Company and America's Wool situation.
2022-09-12 ... It's ALL LYNX PATTERN! ... WarriorWool for NSW
American Woolen and Material Technology and Logistics, the companies that spin our yarn, weave and finish our Fabric, specify our Fabrics by numerical codes that not only designate the exact Fabric, but also convey information about the Fabric construction. It works for the pros at the mills, but I kept having to match their codes with my only descriptors, such as MidWeight Drab. So I asked if they could append, for example, MW-DRAB to L1619-100-3. So the new code is L1619-100-3_MW-DRAB. I really appreciate this because the numerical codes still have not sunk in for me, and I keep having to look them up, even though we've been working together for a long time. I guess it's kind of like metric ... I've been using metric since high school, but when a customer tells me "5 degrees Celsius", I still need to convert to "41 Fahrenheit".
Accommodating my old brain has had an interesting bit of fallout. All of our Fabrics are woven in Lynx Pattern, because the structure created by weaving in Lynx is what gives the Fabric the performance characteristics we require. And so the mills regard all our Fabric as some variety of Lynx. And now I see them using my descriptors in their own correspondence. For example, they refer to our Duff Fabric as FW-LYNX-DUFF ... meaning FullWeight Fabric woven in Lynx Pattern using only Duff-color yarn. ...... I like this more than an adult should, probably. But I don't care.
Just got off the phone with an extremely pleasant gent from a Naval Special Warfare unit who purchased a WarriorWool Anorak for himself.
For earlier 2022 Entries, please click here. The size of the Blog page exceeded system capacity, so an overflow page is necessary.