"People send us pictures of the crazy blankets and sweaters they're knitting," sighs Faustine Badrichani. This isn't some weird Tinder story, we swear: Badrichani's three-year-old startup, Wooln, contracts with grandmas--and only grandmas--to hand-knit the company's hats, blankets, and snoods. Wooln currently works with nine nanas. Its flagship beanies retail for $145. Grandmas get paid 30 percent of the wholesale price (which is generally half of what consumers pay). Besides being available online, Wooln wares are for sale in five retail shops; Badrichani and co-founder Margaux Rousseau expect that number will double this winter.
The two have a simple test for grandmothers who deluge them with photos of knitwear: "We give them one item to make," says Badrichani. "You know if it's going to work." Sometimes, it works better than she'd imagine. Annie Ganter, grandma of five who's "older than 60 but younger than 90," knits for Wooln and also dabbles in biz dev: She struck a deal with Cutchogue, New York, shop Phoebe & Belle to carry Wooln's wares. That's good for business, but perhaps that's secondary to something even bigger, Ganter suggests: making "a grandmother feel important and happy."