"It is totally possible to be beautiful and comfortable at the same time."
~ Kate Lamarre, owner and designer of the women's custom clothing line, Woolen Moss
By: Anne Auten
Nestled in the Finger Lakes region of New York, in the idyllic village of Trumansburg, Kate Lamarre sits sipping tea in the sewing studio of her rustic, yet modern home, enjoying the warmth from her wood burning stove on a dramatically cloudy, fall afternoon. Since 2010, Kate has been offering her unique, mix-and-match, interchangeable ensembles available with custom sizing in an Organic Cotton/Bamboo blend and her niche market of Organic Merino Wool in her Etsy store, WoolenMoss.
Kate is her own best advertising. She wears several layers of her line: yoga pants, a short skirt, and two layered cowl neck tunics. Her presence is relaxed yet energetic, casual yet elegant. We've enjoyed a leisurely saunter around her property, led by the family dog, and now, fueled by invigorating outdoor temperatures, we begin our interview.
PRIME: What's important for people to know about your clothing line?
Kate: Everything I make is stretchy. It's because body image is such an issue for women, and I think that it is totally possible to be beautiful and comfortable at the same time. And, I think that's a real struggle for people. Everything that I make, I try to make in such a way that you feel great about yourself, but you are not cinched and pinched and tucked and shoved into your clothing. It's in a lot of my clothing descriptions. I say something about moving with ease. You should be able to feel amazing. It does not matter how tall or short you are or what your waist measurement is. You should be able to feel really comfortable and really beautiful. I'd like to really stress that. I make clothes for every, single body type.
PRIME: So you can accommodate any range of body shapes and sizes, even below or above the range you list (XS-XL)?
Kate: Definitely. I don't charge any more for Plus Sizing in my cotton clothing. With the wool, I do have to charge more because the fabric is so much more expensive.
PRIME: Where does the Organic Merino Wool come from and what makes it so special? Does it come from a particular sheep? Does it feel a certain way?
Kate: Merino wool is from a particular sheep. The micron count refers to how fine the wool is. So the higher the micron count, the finer the wool is, and merino, in general, has the highest micron count of all the sheep. I have been sourcing different wool every year. Some of it from Vermont, some from New Zealand, some from South America. It just depends on what I can find that year. The New Zealand wool that I sourced for this year, I'm probably going to stick with for awhile. I really like it. It's really thin. It's a jersey, which is perfect for a lot of designs, but not perfect for heavier stuff like sweater skirts, so I'm still going to have to find thicker wool. And that's the hard part, but it's the fun part too. I also sell my line of organic merino and organic cotton bamboo by the yard. I try to make it accessible to home sewers who are interested, but can't afford a whole bolt. Sometimes I will get someone aghast at the price of the wool, but it's that hard to find. It's very expensive to produce. I get to know this from having raised the sheep. If you have one sick animal and you give them antibiotics because they were sick, that's not an organic sheep anymore, even though you were appropriately giving them antibiotics. So then what ends up happening is that you have to maintain two flocks. So you have your organic flock, and the ones that you may have had to treat for something. And that gets expensive. And then the (organic) certification process is…even for a regular vegetable farmer, it is cost prohibitive to try to get the certifications. I think that's why it's (organic wool) so hard to find.
PRIME: It's pretty impressive that you have a 5 star rating on Etsy from over 2500 sales with 865 rating reviews! How'd you do that?
Kate: I make sure that people are happy. Really it's gone amazingly well. I'm happy to do a small adjustment, but 49 out of 50 times, everyone seems to be 100% happy! I'm constantly learning, but this is what I love. I don't want to make 2 dozen of this or that in 3 different sizes and sell them to a store. I love when that one person places an order and says can you add a couple inches length to this, and oh, I have a short torso, so can I give you my measurements? Then, it's interesting, and I'm making clothing for a person. I love doing that. The feedback that I get keeps me going. I love getting an email that says how much someone loves their garment! And I get to think, I did that! And that's pretty cool! ~