Today on the blog we feature another guest post in our series, from our friend and designer Lori Versaci.
Several weeks ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post about how I met the ladies of Kelbourne Woolens, Kate and Courtney, and to share a few fun stories about them. I did start that post and told about how I first met Kate and Courtney at our industry’s trade show, TNNA, and how they shooed me out of the booth because they were setting up for another, big name designer’s, book signing. I went on to tell how, after feeling dejected, a few months later they featured one of my designs (BISCOTTI knit in Savannah) on their blog. My experience at TNNA was not at all reflective of how these two wonderful women, or the vast majority of the participants (predominantly female) who work in this industry.
I have stories about the 2 skeins of Meadow that appeared at my door, prompting me to knit a sweater in a few weeks to wear at TNNA which Kate swiftly tore off my back and wore (above, left), about teaching with them at The Yarn Cupboard Retreat (above, right) and hearing first hand about their trip to Ireland and the genesis of Arranmore, about visiting their warehouse and coming home with a tote bag full of yarn. But then I realized that what I love most about Kate Gagnon Osborn and Courtney Kelley, The Kelbourne Ladies, is their collaborative spirit, honesty, openness and strong moral compass.
Unlike the Kelbourne Ladies, who started in the industry in their 20’s, I started in my 50’s. These ladies could be my daughters. Despite the age difference, Courtney’s and Kate’s generosity and willingness to share their time and knowledge have meant that not only have they used their platforms to introduce my work to their customer, they have also helped me learn how to navigate the industry, whether social media, retail stores, events or shows.
And, as one comes to expect, they don’t just stand on the sidelines, when Courtney was concerned about the relevance of our industry association in today’s marketplace, instead of complaining, she joined the board. And, very quickly talked me into stepping up to the the plate and participating in the TNNA Research Committee’s industry mapping research.
But what I love most about Kate and Courtney is that they are not afraid to use their business as a platform for the betterment of all. Most recently, Courtney celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement and a group of amazing women of color involved in the Craftivism in her post A CRAFT FOR US ALL. And, when I decided to donate the proceeds of my SISTERHOOD collection (seen above) to Planned Parenthood last fall, Kelbourne could easily have distanced themselves from the collection. On the contrary, Kate was the first individual to buy the ebook and Kelbourne quickly took up the gauntlet and promoted the collection and the cause aggressively and personally.
So “hats off” to these two fabulous women. May I continue to learn from you and bask in your spirits!