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Muriel’s of Vermont: From farm to closet

In 2018, Laura Jacoby and her son Cyrus Brooks met Shima Seiki USA. Muriel’s of Vermont was formed three years later, commencing operations and offering sweaters online.

4th January 2022

Knitting Industry
 |  Grand Isle, VT, USA

Knitwear

In December of 2018, Laura Jacoby and her son Cyrus Brooks stopped by Shima Seiki USA’s New York offices. They had heard about how the company was making great strides in knitting innovation and wanted to learn more to see if they’d be able to consider vertical manufacturing of knitted sweaters for the local Vermont community using locally sourced yarns to support farmers.

Fast forward three years and Muriel’s of Vermont was formed, and it began operations offering sweaters online. The newly established vertically integrated brand is now turning locally sourced fibres into WHOLEGARMENT 3D Knit products for its customers to wear. The name Muriel comes from Laura and Cyrus’ mother and nana, who was a ‘back to lander’ who grew her own vegetables, tapped her own sugar maples, and bought meat and raw milk from the farmer down the road. She was also a hand knitter who produced one-of-a-kind creations that are still used today.

We were looking for a business opportunity that would support Vermont agriculture – particularly regenerative agriculture, which can sequester carbon emissions, and noted that Vermont farmers lack a robust, viable market for their wool

When the company started its own garment line, it decided to do things the way Muriel would have done them - locally, intentionally, and with love. Muriel’s supply chain is quite simple, Vermont’s farms produce beautiful fibres, small regional businesses process those fibres, and advanced manufacturing innovations make it possible for Muriel’s to knit each garment in its basement.

© Muriel’s of Vermont

Since the yarns are locally sourced, Muriel’s product runs are limited and can sell out quickly, so would be buyers should sign up for updates or follow the company on social media to find out when new products are available. Currently Muriel’s offer quality knits with Vermont wool and other responsibly US-sourced fibres, and summer garments using cotton and a hemp/silk blend. By growing a market for local wool, Muriel’s is supporting its neighbours who sequester carbon by intentionally managing their farmland.

To learn more, Shima Seiki USA reached out to Muriel’s of Vermont to learn about the venture and why it chose WHOLEGARMENT technology when establishing its facilities.

Shima Seiki USA (SSUSA): Please tell us about yourself.

Muriel’s: Laura and Cyrus are a mother/son team living in Vermont. Laura has a background in international relief work and non-profit management and Cyrus in film production. We were looking for a business opportunity that would support Vermont agriculture – particularly regenerative agriculture, which can sequester carbon emissions, and noted that Vermont farmers lack a robust, viable market for their wool. The purchase of a Shima Seiki WHOLEGARMENT knitting machine enabled us to start Muriel’s, a Vermont garment company that creates timeless knitwear using wool purchased from Vermont farmers as well as other ethically sourced natural fibres.

SSUSA: What is your background in knitting?

Muriel’s: Laura is a beginner hand-knitter; Cyrus has no knitting experience but through his film production developed skills in computer-generated design that he has used in Shima Seiki’s APEX3 design process.

© Muriel’s of Vermont

SSUSA: How did you hear about Shima Seiki?

Muriel’s: We researched digital knitting technologies that would allow us to produce garments at a scale that would support a viable business model. Shima Seiki came up, so we visited the showroom in New York City’s Garment District and met the company’s Hayato Nishi.

SSUSA: Why did you want to consider WHOLEGARMENT for your knitting facility?

Muriel’s: We are a small operation in a fairly rural part of Vermont. We don’t have access to a large labour pool so require a technology that allows us to produce at scale without extensive labour inputs. The styles that we are interested in producing are classic styles with clean lines, the types of styles that the WHOLEGARMENT machine can produce without extensive finishing work. Shima Seiki’s APEX3 software-generated design process is also key for our business because neither of us have formal garment design training; Cyrus was able to transfer his skills in computer-generated video and graphic design to the APEX3 design process.

SSUSA: How is WHOLEGARMENT benefitting your business?

Muriel’s: We would not have a viable business model without it.

SSUSA: What types of machines do you have?

Muriel’s: MACH2S

© Muriel’s of Vermont

SSUSA: What kinds of knits do you currently offer?

Muriel’s: Vermont wool turtleneck, rollneck, and V-neck sweaters and vests. Fine Western wool/Tencel blend turtleneck sweaters. 50% recycled/50% organic cotton ribbed V-neck and boatneck sweaters.

SSUSA: Please let us know anything else you would want readers to know about Muriel’s of Vermont.

Muriel’s: We would not gotten this far without the amazing support of Shima Seiki staff every step of the way. The sales team was super helpful, which was crucial for us as complete neophytes to the industry; they gave a tour of the facility and machines and put us in touch with other producers who had purchased WHOLEGARMENT machines. The tech support has been phenomenal – timely, friendly, professional, and always willing to work with us to get any problem solved. Our business model is fairly unique and specific in that we work with wool that is produced and spun into yarn locally; the yarns we use are not uniform nor consistently fine. While the MACH2S has proven robust enough to knit these yarns, John, our tech support, has worked hard to make that happen so we could stay true to our original purpose – saving Vermont farms and the planet.

Muriel’s of Vermont website

www.shimaseikiusa.com

www.shimaseiki.com

Article republished with the kind permission of Shima Seiki USA.

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