Below the Beanie — The Stories I Hear
Benjamin Antoni Andersen
| August 13, 2022
I don’t know exactly what I expected when I began this beanie venture — but it was not this.
Honestly, I’ve questioned why I started this brand, and I can’t come up with an answer. It just came alive from a hodge-podge of different inspirations, skills and desires. And here it is, flesh and blood.
I think the challenge of building something from scratch — to understand every component of a whole — beckoned to me. And I set out on a journey of crafting a brand as genuine and personal as I could manage.
It seems that for some of you I’ve managed just a bit of what I set out to do.
When I tell tales of our family, adventures, and the crafting of our beanies, one of my favorite things is when you respond in like manner.
Better than a review is a story told over email. I mean, please write us a review still, they help us peddle more goods. But there is something to be said for spontaneous comments or email replies.
Matt replied to the newsletter about the foxtail beanie and told me about how they’ve had 8 foxes living under their shed — 6 kits and two parents — and what a joy it was to see his 7 y/o have that experience.
Suddenly I got a peek into a life on the other side of the globe, in the middle of my work day, grinding away with content and design.
It gave me a smile.
And oh by the way, he also told me earlier that his whole biking crew wears North Caps. So now our family’s craftsmanship is being used to knit a group of people on the other side of the world a little bit tighter together.
I opened an email that talked about a problem with our website. Not fun, but after chatting for a short while and solving the problem, Paul on the other end told me why he found us, and what he wanted to do.
His baby had been born early and had a rough start, and the hospital had gifted them a small beanie to keep warm. Now they wanted to upgrade to a hand knit cap.
He even sent pictures of his newborn baby in the hospital, which was very special to me. My own son was born a month early, so it connected to my own memories.
These sort of connections are priceless. I can’t force them, but still they come.
A small, simple thank-you email that I got turned into something more.
“I just received your hat, it is great and it feels wonderful! Could you please send my special thanks to K.K.”
It was from Aitor, all the way from Japan.
I answered that the signature K.K. means it’s knit by my own grandmother.
Her full initials are actually K. K. K., which is terribly unfortunate, but she more than makes up for it by being the sweetest old lady.
As the team of knitters grows, getting a beanie from her becomes increasingly rare, so it is always cool to see one in the wild.
Aitor proceeded to tell me that he owned a pair of wool socks knit by his own grandmother, and he treasured them all the more since she passed away some years ago.
The fact that people share genuine stories about themselves is one of my absolute favorite parts of what we’ve built in Red Hat Factory.
It’s not asked for, it’s not forced. You guys just add a little personal spice, and I realize for a moment, in between all the designing, number crunching and logistics that I am actually interacting with complete human lives full of hopes dreams, and challenges, all across the world.
That feels incredibly precious to me, and I’ve flagged and kept all those emails.