VILLAWOOL 40 YEARS OF CRAFTSMANSHIP - 1975 x 2015
FORTY YEARS OF SWEAT, TEARS, FUN, SUCCESS, FAILURE, SNOW,
INNOVATION,COMPETITION, VICTORY, QUALITY AND FAMILY!
It all began 1975 when teenagers Matti and Ranja went on a skiing trip to Zermatt in Switzerland.
They fell in love with the small alpine stores below the slopes and their hat selections. After a few months
back in finland they wanted to create their own hat collection, but it was something quite different from
what they saw in Austria. It was the 70´s, but the collection was before it´s time - it was allready in the 80´s,
AND IT ROCKED!!!
Above probably the first hat made by Matti in the 70´s. It was in active use for over 30 years and is in this condition today! QUALITY!
Matti bought an used hand operated knitting mashine and started knitting crazy, never before seen,
high quality hats. First they sold to friends, then to friends of friends, and after the first year they allready
sold to small skiing stores - first of it´s kind in Finland! Matti drove around finland with a Fiat 600 and
desperately tried to sell hats to bigger clients across the country. All of a sudden they sold their crazy
pompom hats all over finland - and it was going overseas! In a short period of time the company
expanded and hats were sold all over the world! Helsinki - Munich - Zürich - Montreal - New York - Tokyo.
The one and only, bestseller in the 80´s! The Sheepdog hat!
Matti and Ranja soon opened their first own store in Helsinki on Eerikinkatu, and later a big
flagshipstore infront of the dome church and main shopping street on Aleksanterinkatu.
Christmas time 1989, a few days before christmas eve they had a record selling at the store!
50 000 finnish marks during one day! Fifty thousand marks worth of hats!!! The store manager
was afraid to bring the money to the bank safe in the dark after closing, so she left the money in
the cash register and closed. The next morning a window was broken and the money was gone!
Christmas was ruined ofcourse, but shit happens, it was only one days selling!
Our booth at a tradeshow in Montreal, Canada 1989
Beginning of the 90´s, finland and the entire world fell into a great depression. People who bought
hats and had fun with it, couldn´t afford it anymore. People stopped having fun. We went bankrupt
like tens of thousands of other entrepeneurs during those years! We had to step back and stop
production, but allready 20 years in the business, Matti and Ranja realized hats were the only thing
they knew how to do! Handcraft & entrepeneurship most of all! So the story continued,
with the help of little helpers, the second generation, eightiesbabies!
Most people didn´t even know what snowboarding was when this catalogue shoot happened in the 80´s!
As a tight family we survived the 90´s and continued doing hand made, 100% quality hats.
It was a rocky road for small hand crafted products in the higher priced range after the depression.
Even today with the ongoing financial crisis. But we think people have started respecting the small ones,
the ones who use their own hands to manufacture the highest quality of products available!
In 2004 we moved our knitting mill to Saaremaa, Estonia, where Matti and Ranja live nowadays in a hand
built house by Matti ofcourse! They grow their own vegetables and spices from cucumber to rosemary!
Hand Made! Villawool country club in Saaremaa.
We have 6 employees at the knitting mill, ladies who hand knitted beanies and mittens on markets and
sold them to tourists. We hired them and pay them 10 times the amount they earned before.
They are truly talented and very hardworking craftmen...craftwomen!
Eventhough small stores, and big stores, are not doing so well today, like one of our oldest and most
traditional customers Stockmann. We believe if you focus on the right thing and stay in the flow of time,
you can make it! Quality that lasts, ecological, personal, functional.
We want to thank all our customers from the past 40 years.
Friends who told friends of friends and so on, without whom
we would just be a funny memory from the 80´s!
Amongst so many others:
Makia, Stockmann, Ponke´s, Topsport, Vision Fly Fishing, Intersport, Sportia, Urban A, Billebeino,
Strolz Lech, Paramount New York, Jiro Ski Shop Tokyo, Sportcheck Munich, Red Devil Stockholm...
Another classic! The Fox Tail hat!
We hired some of the first graffiti artists in finland to airbrush graffitis on our hats!
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