Profiling TSS Business of the Month for March 2019 GUÐRUN & GUÐRUN and its co-founder Gudrun Rógvadóttir

Harbour at Tórshavn (Streymoy Island) the capital of the Faroe Islands Image Source:  Erik Christensen

 

From its Faroe Islands base, knitwear company GUÐRUN & GUÐRUN connects Faroese sheep farmers and this northern archipelago’s wool spinning traditions; the craft of hand-knitting and the company’s social responsibility policy with the fashion (and lifestyle) customer who cares ‘about each other, the environment, our common natural resources and who yet want to be stylish’.

 

Figure 1 Founders Gudrun Ludvig and Gudrun Rógvadóttir

 

This business enterprise was co-founded in 2002 by Gudrun Rógvadóttir alongside her business partner, designer Gudrun Ludvig; hence the arrival of the business name GUÐRUN & GUÐRUN.

Both Gudrun’s had grown up in the ‘The Faroes’ (18 islands geographically situated between Iceland and Norway).

Background

In 2000, while working in international development, Rógvadóttir became outraged when she learned that the once thriving wool industry ‘back home’ had suffered a price crash, and that wool (and animal skins) were being viewed as waste product. Sheep farmers were opting to burn the wool rather than pay for it to been cleaned and spun. This prompted Rógvadóttir, with her head for business, to approach Ludvig as part of her research. The two met for the first time and Ludvig agreed to design some garments using the wool. The two women entered their partnership with a joint passion to ensure that:

  • production be sustainable
  • the business ethos is always to interlink people heritage, land (and sea) traditions, nature and a sense of place
  • the skill of hand-knitting be upheld

During the developing years, Ludvig’s earlier connection with the Danish photographer and designer, Sabine Poupinel proved fruitful; Poupinel urged the two women to focus on the hand-knitting as a business niche.

Today, this small but mighty brand has become a luxury, eco-friendly, knitwear company that has been steadily growing since 2006 and is widely admired.

Figure 3 Gudrun Rógvadóttir co-founder of Gudrun & Gudrun

What is it that prompted TSS to profile co-founder, Gudrun Rógvadóttir and GUÐRUN & GUÐRUN as a Business of the Month?

We found the story behind this studio business – close to the seashore, in its remote North Atlantic location, rather fascinating; and to learn that the raw materials used for the classic, biggest selling sweaters lines are untreated, undyed wool from Faroese sheep that live on the mountains all year round. The grass they eat is unfertilised, of course, making the fibres 100% natural/organic.

Acknowledging too, that G&G are unique in the fact that they are actually a local business – but one that is wide reaching. Hand-knitted collections are made by women who reside on the Faroe Islands, and Jordanian and Peruvian women (who are part of Women’s Empowerment Projects) are also employed as knitters.

Gudrun Rógvadóttir is forever mindful of the fact this isn’t ‘fast’ fashion and avoids all the negatives that can be attached to this kind of business model. When she is required to outsource for machine knitting labour, or for new wools or other materials (such as Alpaca, silk and musk-ox wool) she ensures that decisions made will always match the brand’s ethos.

Figure 4 G&G knitting society in Jordan

 

G&G sells Menswear, Womenswear, Children’s wear plus accessories and Homewares

For information : GUÐRUN & GUÐRUN’s web retailing business is run from its base in The Faroe Islands. Selling in high-end retailers in: Copenhagen, Tokyo, New York, Milan and London. Flagship stores in Tórshavn, the Faroe Islands capital (Pictured top of page). Also appearing in various Pop-Up stores high-end stores around the globe and luxury e-tailer Luisa Via Roma.

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