Recently I was contacted by the owner/designer-extraordinaire Angelique Roelofsen of bieq, a Dutch company that designs handknit baby hats, mittens, and clothing in vintage style and modern colors. Currently Angelique only sells finished items, but she was curious to find out if I would be interested in carrying her patterns if she wrote them out.
Well, take a look at these and tell me what you think:
No question, right? So! Something to look forward to in the coming months! I'll be sure to let you know when the patterns are ready and stocked. Until then, Angelique answered a few interview questions about her business and the inspiration for her designs.
Could you give me some background about your business?
Let me start with something about myself. I live with my boyfriend, Steven, and our two children, Seb 10, and Puck, 7. I work as an airline hostess part-time, but I really hope to make bieq my full-time job in the near future.
My grandmother, Riek, taught me how to knit when I was about 10 years old. I loved it from the first moment! About five years ago I was feeling really burned out at my job, and since I've always loved knitting, that’s what I turned to.
I liked to knit small items then so I made a baby hat, put it on a ball, and thought: Wow! How nice! I made some more and when a friend of mine had a baby I gave her one. She loved it and her baby girl wore it all the time. When she visited a children's clothing shop in town, the owner told her that she liked the hat and so my friend gave her my number. I brought some hats to the store, and she sold them! Then my boyfriend suggested I make a small collection to offer other shops. So I made about eight models and a colorcard, and nervously phoned the coolest babyshop in Amsterdam, Keet in Huis. They wanted me to come by! I thought if they like (and sell!) my items, I’m doing well. So I went by, they ordered about 30 hats—which sold out in about a month! That was the beginning!
What inspires your designs?
Actually inspiration is everywhere: old knitting books, glamour magazines, interiors of houses, outside color combinations... I've learned to really notice what's around me because there's always so much inspiration!
Friends are also a great source of inspiration. Once when I was picking my kids up at school, another mother started talking to me. I had seen her before but we never spoke. Her name is Sacha Doetsch, and she liked my scarf so I told her I crocheted it myself and than we started talking. She also loves to knit and design. Now, few years later she is one of my closest friends and we knit and design together a lot. We even go for "design weekends" where we rent a house, pack the car full of food, knitting books, yarn, and paper and then design all weekend! We stay inside for three days and come out with so many ideas!
You mentioned that you are looking for a community of mothers to knit your garments, could you tell me more about that?
My goal is to make bieq a brand with completely handknitted (and maybe crocheted) baby garments from luxury yarns. I would love to have all the items made in another country were I can help women create their own income while taking care of their babies or work in community while supporing themselves. I would plan to visit several times a year to show them how to make the new items and then provide the designs and yarn. But it's very difficult to find the right community, so I've been busy with this for quite some time now.
Someday, I would also want to publish a book of bieq knitting patterns, so there are lots of plans in the works!
Do you have any advice for novice knitters? Resources or patterns that would be good for someone still learning?
Just try new things all the time! Start with small projects so you can try something new. Ask around when you need help because knitters don't mind helping, and often even like to knit together!
Do you have any advice for knitters who would like to design their own garments?
I always thought it was too difficult to design myself but I tried and found that it works out better each time. Read knitting books and patterns a lot! I even like to read knitting books and pattern books for fun.
Is there anything else you could share about bieq?
Last year bieq was mentioned in the French magazine, Milk Magazine. Later I got a call from Stella McCartney's publicity assistant saying that she liked my work. She asked me to make some items for Stella's daughter, which I did, and then I received a handwritten thanks from Stella!
Already bieq has given me so many great moments. Things keep growing and growing, so I hope that one day it'll be my sole source of income!
You can find bieq's designs at the following US retailers:
Fawn and Forest
...but you can also check here for a complete list of retailers, since bieq is sold in many, many countries around the world. And of course you can buy directly from the bieq web site.
Happy knitting, everyone!