Today, let me tell you about the concept created by a Russian woman in France. I had a chance to discover her one of the FB groups for expat where she honestly presented her passion and business idea. I was moved by her honesty, kindness, wisdom and talent. Read the little interview below to discover this amazing woman, her talent and the creations she is offering. Meet Luba from Wool & Co.
Who are you?
My name is Luba. I’m Russian, from Moscow. My husband is French that’s why basically I live in France. We have a 6-year-old daughter.
What do you do?
At the moment I’m developing my small business and blog on Instagram about handicraft. I created a brand Wool&Co, under which I make scarfs, shawls, hats, socks. And I use unusual materials to make toys, bags and home accessories. The features of my philosophy in handmade are colors, textures, materials, techniques and their combination. My background: I first time came to France in 2009. Since then, we lived in Alsace, then we moved to our house in L’Ain, then we spent 2 years in Asia, in Cambodia, and now we are back to France. We live in the village called Confrancon, which located between Macon and Bourg-en-Bresse. By my education I’m a sociologist and English-Russian translator. I graduated from one of the top Russian Universities, Higher School of Economics. Later I also received the degree in Finance management and a certificate in strategic marketing from NIMA marketing. I speak English, French, Russian and Spanish. I had always been fascinated by the international world and international environment, that’s why when I lived in Moscow, I made my career in the international companies and later was running international projects as a freelancer, covering various fields such as organization of participation at the exhibitions for foreign companies, guided tours in Moscow for foreign guests, websites creation, SMM, internet-shop elaboration, project management consulting, marketing strategy elaboration etc. My husband is an engineer and project manager who had been building industrial facilities all around the world all his life. We met in Moscow during his business trip there, as we worked at the same company- just he was based in the Zurich office. At the moment we have our consulting business and I’m also developing my project.
What is the origin/ background of your project?
I see the mission of my project in promoting the culture and beauty of handmade items and natural materials. I actually started thinking about it when my daughter was born because I couldn’t find in Europe warm winter clothes for her of adequate quality. Even simple things such as hats, jumpers, socks- I had to bring them all from Moscow. Another point is that young girls often know almost nothing about handmade and are often unable even to fix a button or a hole on their clothes. Not to mention that there are less and less of those who know how to do embroidery and even less about other kinds of handmade. Of course I would like my daughter (first of all) to be more prepared for her future life, no matter what she’ll be doing. I’m myself passionate about crocheting, although I do knit as well. In my family my mom and all my grandmothers used to either sew or knit. We always had warm handmade jumpers, warm woolen socks, hats scarfs. So, there is a culture of living naturally. Talking about clothing I cannot wear synthetics. The first thing I do when making my shopping I check the composition be it a sweater or a t-shirt or a scarf. What I see in Europe and in France in particular is that by default there are not much of natural materials used in the clothes composition and if something natural is added it’s presented as something exceptional and giving an added value to the item that allows to set a higher price. While what can be simpler than to have a cotton or linen or even silk t-shirt in summer and a woolen sweater or hat in winter? As I come from Russia, and you know how cold Russian winters can be, wearing an acrylic jumper or a hat at -20 will not work and out of question- you will simply freeze. That’s why by the way probably many French brands didn’t survive and left Russian market- the products were not adapted to the market. In Europe the humidity level is higher and even at +1 or 0 you can feel freezing cold. No matter how big your acrylic scarf will be, it won’t help. I remember my first winter in France, we lived in Alsace at that time- I was cold all the time. I had to throw a coat that I bought at one of mass market brands because it was 100% acrylic or so and it was unpleasant to wear. As we say in Russia there is no bad weather there are bad clothes. Or another point is a woolen jumper for which you paid 100 euro and it starts looking like nothing after only 1 year of random wearing. I have a few of those. Deeply frustrating. So upon our return from Asia I decided that handmade is probably the thing to do. As a marketing person I started searching around, investigating competitive environment. I found out that French women do knit and crochet, but they mainly use the cheapest possible acrylic yarn while you can easily find acrylic ready- made stuff in all the shops. However, if you take natural yarns they bring original textures to the final product, helping underline its beauty, coziness and originality. Because all handmade items are original and unique. Even if you take the same pattern and it will be made by different people you will get totally different items. The other direction of my activity is toys. I make toys for kids, interior toys that imply boost your mood every time you look at them. And toys they have different function than clothes and such accessories as scarfs and hats for example. Toys should be nice and cleanable (in case).
Why did you chose handmade?
I love handmade. I love different technics, I love investigating what kind of handmade exists in different countries, what its specifics is. Even if we take crochet technic only – it’s different in the USA, in Latin America, in Russia….. And this is my idea also- to create items that would combine different techniques. For example a summer jute bag with a strap made with ply-split or macrame. I think that handmade items carry special energy. Imagine, before making something, you select yarn, you select the composition, you think about the model, the color, then all those hours you spend making it. You cannot do it if you don’t like what you are doing. The final product is not only a hat or a scarf- it’s an accumulation of all positive vibes. Not to mention that with proper care it will last quite a while and can be passed even to the next generation.
Lastly, do you think that it is expensive to buy handmade?
Here I would like to bring a quote from Coco Chanel that I like very much. “Handmade is a luxury. It’s not necessarily that everyone should have it. If you want to have a handmade item, you either make it yourself, or pay to the creator”. It says it all. Handmade is often compared with mass market. While it shouldn’t be. For example, toys that you can find in all shops, for example, made in China and for 5 euro, they are dead to me. Of course they can look cute but they do not have a soul, they do not have a character. The same about clothes and other items.
I recently was listening to a lecture regarding sustainable consumption and the lady gave a very interesting example. We all love sales and we buy tones of clothes and stuff just because it’s cheap. Then we can wear it or not but most often many things keep lying in our wardrobes waiting for their hour, or for a moment when we finally buy something to match. So we often buy an item not because we need it or because we like it but because we can afford it, at the particular moment. While if we buy something that we like of good quality even if the price is high, we wear it with more pleasure, we wear it more often…So finally if we calculate the cost per one coming out of an expensive item it will be lower than the cost of one coming out of a cheap item….This is what really made me think.
Where we can find you?
On Instagram here
On Facebook here
In my shop online here
You can contact me here on firstname.lastname@example.org