An intergenerational yarn
Sarah Oliver started designing handbags as gifts for friends and family. The bags received so much attention that she began selling them at trunk shows, in between raising her children, Annie and Will. Soon, stores began to call and Sarah realised there was a business opportunity. . . but, says Sarah, “I knew I did not want to manufacture overseas. With fond memories of knitting with my mom and grandmother, I decided to approach the Activities Director at The Redwoods Senior Retirement Community, in Northern California, to see if they would post a sign-up sheet for knitters interested in working with me. The response was overwhelmingly positive and I soon found myself with a whole team of amazing knitters, who named themselves The Purlettes +2. (The 2 is a nod to the two male members of the team).
"They love the work and I love them! I know that this is a unique business model that can do good on so many levels."
The Purlettes, with an average age of 88, now hand knit every one of the bags and they are the backbone of Sarah’s company. “They love the work and I love them! I know that this is a unique business model that can do good on so many levels.” As Kay, who just turned 98 said, “I never dreamed I could be part of something so fun at this stage of my life. I just love Sarah and I love Sarah Oliver handbags.” Says Daphne, 93 years young, “Being a Purlette is the joy of my elder life.”
"I never dreamed I could be part of something so fun at this stage of my life. I just love Sarah and I love Sarah Oliver handbags."
The Purlettes often knit together, giving them a wonderful sense of community and shared purpose. Their tremendous skill and attention to detail is admired by customers the world over. The founding group nicknamed themselves The Purlettes +1, so named for their “knit one, purl two” expertise, as well as the pearls of wisdom they impart.
Sarah says that she is inspired every day by The Purlettes +2. Having seen the difference being part of her company makes in their lives, Sarah is committed to empowering by other people by re-engaging them in the American economy. She says, “When I think of the potential we have to scale and create opportunity for seniors across the country, I just get so excited imagining the possibilities. I believe we can lead a revolution that gives seniors a new found sense of passion and purpose while building an iconic American brand. Every one of our bags tells a story worth telling!”