Ep. 107 Reclaiming the Color Yellow with Aimée Gille
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Ashley [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scenes peeks of building Bright Collective. Our monthly membership for all things craft and the Making app, the first social marketplace for makers. We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why Making exists. I'm your host, Ashley Yousling. And today we get to hear the story of Aimée Geo, the founder of La Bien Aimée. Aimée is a whole vibe, one that bubbles up and overflows in the form of joy, encouragement, all things soft and of course, the color yellow. We go to deep tender places, reflect on the effects of the pandemic, and explore exciting possibilities in the future. I'm so grateful for Aimée and all she brings to this community of ours, and I hope you enjoy listening in on our conversation. You can connect with Aimée on the making app and Instagram @labienAimée. And with that, here's Aimée.
Aimée [00:01:11] I think my first experience with the act of making would be observing my mother making things with her hands. She was a homemaker mother to five kids, so she was a professional homemaker. This was her profession. I think my earliest memory is like just watching my mom make things. She I mean, she cooked us every meal. We were spoiled growing up, like we had homemade cookies, and she made us really rounded meals. My mother's Korean. So we eat Korean food every day. And she also sewed and she knit and she quilt. And honestly, like, I think if I look at all of my baby pictures, I'm wearing something hand-knit or handmade. And in every photo, my older cousins who are like maybe like five or seven years older than me, they have pictures of themselves wearing handmade outfits that my mother made for them. So I think that's my probably my earliest memory is seeing witnessing my mother making things with her hands. And I remember being really young and bothering her and being like, teach me how to knit. Teach me how to knit, you know? And she was just knitting and she would just be like, No, I have to finish this, you know, because she was like making sweaters for five kids, you know, I'm busy. And so she actually taught me how to sew pieces of sweaters together. She would have me do the side seams. She showed me how to do the mattress stitch. And so these sweaters are probably knit on a like an air and weight. So it wasn't very thin. And so she showed me how to do that. And that's what that was. My first initiation to knitting was actually seaming and then she taught me cross-stitch and I was really good at doing cross-stitch so that for a while I did that for a while. And then I want to say, when I was around eight or ten years old, she she taught me crocheting, knitting. At the same time, I knit little things for like my dolls and stuff like all little kids do. And I think after a while I kind of put it to the side and got busy playing sports. I was very athletic when I was teenager and didn't get very much. I honestly didn't go back to knitting again until I was in my mid-twenties and it was because of my mother. She told me to. I had just moved to France and I remember talking to her on the phone. I told her I was like, I'm super lonely. I don't have any friends, you know, because I literally packed up and just moved to France. And she said to me, Go find a yarn shop. She's like, Go find knitters. Because you can become friends with these owners because my mom was part of a knitting group. I remember she would like go every week to the yarn barn in Kansas City and she would go knit and she was part of a quilt quilting group. And these were like women who are her friends. And she she said, go out and find knitters. And so that's what I did when I first moved to Paris and that's how I made my first friends.
Ashley [00:03:57] Reflecting back, can you see peaks of art or creativity kind of coming through in different ways then?
Aimée [00:04:06] Absolutely. I think I have always been very. Not like not obsessed, but always thinking about color since I was very young. I do remember always, always being drawing and coloring, and that was always something that I was into when I was a small child. And as I was going through junior high and high school, I didn't go to art school, but I was always doodling and coloring and always interested in how colors came together. I actually just for fun, I remember being in high school paying attention to the fashion trends just to see what the colors were that season. You know, I go to the store and I pick up fashion magazines and I would flip through to see like what the colors were and just to see like, oh, I like that. And just I was always really sensitive to that kind of thing, but it was never something that I thought that I could do for a living at that age. My parents were very like, I want to say classic in the sense that my mom wanted me to have a good job because, you know, that's what a lot of Korean moms are like. And so I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to study French. And so I thought, okay, I can be a French teacher. I was actually very good at speaking French in high school. And so that's kind of the direction that I went into, was studying French in school, and I had gotten so far with my French studies in college that in my last year of college I had all this free time to take extra classes. And so that's when I started taking my first art classes because I had time. And so I took art history, and it just literally blew my mind. I took photography and I just was really feeding my love for color through these classes that I took in my last year of university. After I graduated from the university, I pretty much moved to France. Shortly after that, I had met my husband the year after I graduated from CU and we had a long distance relationship and I ended up moving to to France when I was 23. So I was pretty young during that time. I want to say that that was kind of a a period of where I was trying to find myself. I wasn't that was the time that my mom told me to go find the knitters, you know, and find my people. And so that's when I started knitting again was in my late or my early twenties and I worked two jobs. I at this time I was still thinking about color, but just in a very abstract way. It was just more just paying attention to the city of Paris where I lived and things like that. I wasn't actively trying to make it a part of my life except through my knitting. So then I was like picking colors to knit with that were exciting and that would push me out of my comfort zone as and I was working is really boring jobs in marketing because I was bilingual I could work in English and French and because I could speak some Korean. So I had worked for a Korean company and during that one I want to say this is the last year I worked in the workforce. My mother passed away suddenly and that was a huge blow. And at the time when my mom passed away, I was knitting a lot and knitting became this sort of refuge for me. It was my way to process my grief. It was also a way for me to be in touch with my mom. And it was also a way for me to get back to this crafting of using my hands, something that was familiar to me that I witnessed as a child through my mom. And actually, what's really interesting is, like, when I knit, my hands look just like my mother's. And it's extremely comforting to to be able to look down at my hands when I'm knitting and I see my mother's hands because that was something that I did when I was a child. I have many memories of just watching her knit and the way her hands would move with the needles, and I always found that very comforting. So when my mother passed away. It was this like catalyst moment in my life where I said I needed to do something. It was it was very sudden the night before when I was talking to her, we were just talking about like Thanksgiving dinner and like what we were going to do. And I was telling her about like maintaining that I was going to be bringing home to show her I'd actually started knitting this cardigan for her. And we were it was just such a regular conversation. And so I really kept focusing on that conversation and saying, okay, I'm going to continue on from this moment. What do I want to do? And obviously going back to working my marketing job was just not what I wanted to do. So I ended up leaving that job and I took the time that I needed to grieve the loss of my mother. And I decided I had been knitting so heavily and I had had this wonderful knitting group that I had had come around me during this moment. And I said, You know what? I want to do something with knitting. And so that's when I decided to open a cafe in Paris. I wanted to open this knitting café because at the time. So this is really, really funny to say, but at the time we would go to cafes and knit and people would like smoke in the cafes because in Paris, this is at a time I want to say this is like 2005, 26 people were still smoking in the cafes. And so I would take my knitting out and go sit it in the cafe and then come home and smell it and be like, oh, feel like smoke. And so I told my I told my knitting group. I was like, I'm going to open a café where it's like nonsmoking, which is like unheard of in Paris because everybody's like the cafes. And I was thinking it's going to be a cafe for knitters. And, you know, lo and behold, I had this idea. I talked about it with my husband. He thought it was a great idea. And at the same time, we were building our family and we had our first son, Maximilian. I was out taking him for a walk. And then this neighborhood right next to where we lived in the beach. Okay. And there was a cafe that went up for sale. And I just, like, knew that this was meant to be. You know, we called immediately. And the owners were really excited about our plans to open this cafe. They thought it was really strange. They didn't understand. But at the same time, at the same time, they just see. They believe my story. Like when I told them that, I remember the woman saying to me, she's like, I really believe you're going to do this. And she's like, You make me want to learn to net and come to your cafe. And so it's really funny. After she sold it to me, I did turn around, teacher how to knit and she became a knitter after that. And so that's when I opened my cafe. It was in 2008. My son was almost 18 months old when I opened, and I started out by selling other people's yarn. So this was a yarn that I would like, love to squirrel away in my suitcase when I come home to the United States. Beautiful hand-dyed yarns or beautiful fibers that I found when I was in the U.S. and when I opened my cafe, I just decided I was like, Okay, this is what I'm going to sell my cafe because no one is selling this in France. And so I brought over small brands like well, at the time they were smaller brands, like Lorna's Laces Sweet Georgia. At one point I sold Madeleine Tosh, I sold Brooklyn Tweed Quince and Co Socks, that rock. So all these brands that a lot of Americans know, but like Europeans did not know. And that was really wonderful. And I did that for about seven years. And after seven years, I was like, really like, okay, I think every single part of the wall, my cafe was just full of yarn. And I was really like trying to figure out like, what do I do now? I can't push the walls, but at the same time, I was feeling less inspired by selling other people's yarn. But I still have this love for color. And this is one thing that I really loved about having a yarn shop and selling yarn is I loved pulling colors together for people. So this is kind of like where I come full circle with my love for color is that I was able to find a way to do this selling yarn. And then I thought to myself, like, maybe I could die yarn, maybe I could put the color on the yarn myself and make beautiful colors. And that's how I started La Bien Aimée in 2015.
Ashley [00:12:29] What role has the act of making played in your healing and the healing of others that you've seen over the years?
Aimée [00:12:40] When my mother first passed away, I didn't know how to express those emotions. It's like literally I couldn't talk and so I would write and I had a blog for a very long time. The blog is private now where I would just write everything that I was feeling, and then I would sit down and just knit. And as I was thinking about those emotions, I really focused on the knitting. So I was very project oriented when I was processing through my grief, which is a very I'm a very different kind of knitter today. Now I'm just a process knitter. I just like the process of knitting. I have projects I just recently moved, so I've like literally just looked at all the projects. I kept them all literal projects of big blankets and wraps and these really huge pieces that I have knit because they were my process pieces as I was working through my grief to knit through them. One of them that really strikes me and it's always I look at it and I always kind of chuckle a little bit because it was this shawl called the Lady Eleanor from Scarf Style. It's like this on Entrelac wrap. It's huge. It takes like ten skeins of Nora. And I had bought this, like, beautiful, narrow yarn that had all these multi colors in it. And I, you know, my, my brand color is yellow, right? Literally from this yarn I was cutting. And every time I come to yellow, I would cut it out and not put it into it. And it was because I was working through this memory that I remember my mother telling me when I was younger that I should never wear yellow. She's like, You should never wear yellow as an Asian because it's not a good color for us. It makes us look sallow. And, you know, she was always like. She says it was a derogatory term. I remember her teaching me this as a child, too, and I always kind of carried that along with me and I never really got it. But as I was getting this rap and cutting out every single piece of yellow from it, and I remember, I remember clearly having that pile of yellow yarn. It was like threads that were probably like 12 inches long, and I would just put them there and I was just like, I don't know. I didn't revisit that memory again. Until I started like being me. So this is like we're talking probably 14 years between the moment that I met the lady Eleanor, and then I came to start, like, being me. And I remember thinking it was like as I was doing colors, I was really avoiding the color yellow. And that memory pops back up again in my mind. And so I decided as a diver to conquer this color. And so I guess through the process of making, I've also kind of taught myself I don't know if I've healed myself or something, but I've made myself kind of reclaim the power over the color yellow that I that was a weakness for you as a child and now as an adult is kind of like my I want to say it's like my power color. Like literally, I love this color so much. And when I wear it, I feel amazing. And so that's been kind of a way for me personally through making to kind of work through some of these emotions that I've had. It's an incredible thing being a yarn shop owner. You meet so many people. And one of my favorite things is like when people come in and they like want to knits, you know, the latest pattern that's out on rivalry and they just don't know what colors to put together. And inevitably, we always end up start talking in personal details will come up. And I do have specific memories of specific women who have come to me and said, like, my mother's just passed away and I need to I would like to knit something, you know, and then that's like an immediate I feel I don't know if it's like an overture, but I feel like it's my moment to be like, I know how you feel and we're able to connect on these moments and I'm able to help them find pieces to knit. I just recently, while I was on my book tour last year, this woman came to me on the book tour and I actually remembered her too, because I have this like super power of remembering who bought what. And if I meet them again, I'll be like, I totally remember you bought these three colors to knit this pattern, and they're going to be like, Oh my gosh, I you remember that. And for some reason, that's some kind of like, I don't know, my internal rivalry, just remembering how that happened. And she came to me and she says, I need this. I bought this yarn. And I said, Yes, you bought this turned into a shawl for your mother. And she looked at me. She's like, It's been four years since we saw each other. She came to Elba in the first year, and I remember and I told her, is like, I remember you because we had that moment where we were sharing our experiences and, you know, working through our grief together and things like that. And she's like, I just want to say that I was able to meet the shawl. My mom was able to enjoy it. She's passed away now, but now I enjoy the show and I wear it. And I remember you and we just had that moment of seeing each other again. And I just think that that too is a special way to that. I have been able to connect with people through making as well as the yarn shop owner. And yeah.
Ashley [00:17:34] What you're describing is this the power of connection. Yeah. You know, and how makers I find myself explaining this to non makers quite frequently, especially in the last year as we build, you know, an app that takes lots of people that aren't makers necessarily. And one of the things that I'm constantly explaining is that makers have this ability to connect in a very unique and like visceral way. And it's through. This physical act that is really transforming energy into this physical thing and the energy that goes into these pieces. It all starts from somewhere. An inspired conversation or an experience or a photo or a place. And. The connection that makers have with each other, those little moments of delight or just being seen, it's it's almost like we can see each other in a very. Special way that is unlike anything else I've seen. You know, of course, there's special interests like sports and things like that. And I think some people would probably say, oh, yeah, you know, I get that. But I think there's something about making that is different.
Aimée [00:19:04] Yeah, I agree. There's a strong connection because we understand what it takes to make the item that we're knitting or sewing or. I can understand the appreciation and the thought process that goes into each piece and I don't know what I love about knitting too is like I hosted a knitting group every Wednesday night at my café for like 13 years, and it was like all these knitters from all over the world that would come. But we always had this same core group, and these ladies were so different, like never. They always would always say this to like, if we ever met, we would like really not be friends. Like, we saw each other in the metro. We wouldn't really talk to each other, but because we knit it immediately, it's like this open door. It's like this invitation for us to be like, let's be friends, you know? And I and I really love that about about knitters, you know, you can start a conversation with a knitter anywhere in the world. And it's great. It's really great.
Ashley [00:20:04] We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We are inspired by people, by places, by experiences. A beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making us here to disrupt systems. Systems of oppression. Systems that only benefit certain groups of people. And systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be founded for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. Makers are tired of the monoliths. The few companies that comprise our only choices of how we connect, how we transact, and how we learn. Makers are ready for a better alternative, and that is what we are building. Becoming a bright collective member helps us accomplish this. Visit makingzine.com to learn more. We have a special 10% discount on Bright Collective yearly memberships for podcast listeners. Use discount code makingconvo10 during checkout.
Aimée [00:21:24] So it's been quite a journey. So, you know, we started in 2015. I had had my cafe for seven years and like I said, I had been dyeing other people's yarn and I've been sorry, I've been selling other people's yarn. And I thought, I think I I'd like to sell my own yarn. I'd always had this idea of selling my own yarn, but also like at the time, I had no idea what it meant to go into, like making your own yarn. So I researched dyeing your own yarn and that seemed a little bit more feasible and doable. I knew that I wanted to make this a business so it wasn't going to be possible to become a kitchen diver and try this out, you know, because honestly, my husband and I, our apartment in Paris, when they say that Paris apartments are small, we had a really small Paris apartment. And at the time I had two young children. And it wasn't going to be possible for me to die yard at home. And so I took whatever money I could take for making from the cafe to rent a very small space close by. Super small. I think that we had like a tiny little shop front or literally like two people could stand inside. They couldn't even walk around. And in the back, we could have like four burners going and start dying. And so I started dyeing yarn in 2015. I roped in one of my employees at the time who was working at the cafe to do this with me. And we started, I think we were two, and that's how we started. And at this time, like. I had been I people knew who I was in the knitting industry because my cafe was featured in a book by Clara Parks and so people kind of knew who Aimée was from L'OisiveThé and things like that. I had a social media presence and so I was like, I'm just going to make this yarn. I had no idea that it was going to become what it came today. I thought I was just going to be popping into my café and it would be something that something great to sell because one of the number one things that people said when they would come to my café, who are especially foreigners, they were like, I can get this yarn at home, you know, like I want something special. And so that's kind of one of the things I was like, okay, I'll make the special yarn this like this yarn died in Paris. And so that's how I kind of branded it. It was going to be Hand-Dyed in Paris and like literally up until about like ten days before I launched the brand, I didn't have a name for the brand. Like we didn't know what to call it. I was going to call it maybe like little yellow skin, or I knew that yellow was going to be a color that was important for the brand. Like I didn't know how to name it. I had, I think at one point I was going to call it my pillow till then, which means my skein of yarn. And I was like, That's kind of cute, but that's like not not the right name. And then we were having dinner with some friends, some French friends, and my name Aimée is a very classic French name. It's kind of old. It's not a very modern name. It can be masculine or it can be feminine, depending off as to ease. And it also means like beloved love, you name means beloved. And we were sitting around talking and my friend was just like, you know, your name's really pretty. You should just call your yarn, love your name, which is like my beloved thing, you know? It's like it could it could be interpreted in that sense. And when we said it, I sat there and I said, Is that even possible to make this yarn after my name? I just didn't really think that it would work. But after that, my husband went and asked all of his French friends and said, What would you think if something was branded like this, like you and me? And they all thought it was really beautiful. They were like, That's really sweet, that's really beautiful. That's really nice. And so that's kind of how lesbianism came to be for the name brand. So it's like my namesake. So it's a super, super special thing as well, though, the way the name came about and like I said, I started dyeing very small batches. I take them to knit night and the knitters were all super excited about it. They were like, What is this like? What is the you know, I would make really fun colors inspired by like photography. For me growing up, I have a picture of my mother in front of this beautiful dogwood tree with, like, full of explosion of, like, pink and brown. And I made this color way inspired by that. I was watching, like, Game of Thrones a ton. And so I was making, like, these inspired color Game of Thrones, you know, or True Blood, you know, in the early years, we had some really silly way names, which was really fun because I was having a lot of fun creating things, and that's kind of how I started pulling inspiration that way. And then I love to travel. Traveling has always been something that has always been a gift that my parents had given us growing up, being in a family of five kids, we didn't really go on vacation all the time, but when we did, it was a big deal. And I remember my father always saying, like, take it in, take in this moment. Like he took us to Yellowstone Park when we were younger. And my father liked to take pictures. So, you know, my mother was a maker and she made things by hand and my father was a photographer, so he loved to take pictures. We had beautiful photos of ourselves growing up. We have all these albums, albums of just beautiful photos of us. And so I remember my father just telling me, we're standing in Yellowstone Park and he's like, Just take it all in, you know? We would just stand there looking at it. And I remember that and I remember looking at the colors and being, Wow, this is incredible. I've never seen colors like this, so I get a lot of inspiration for what I do it like when I travel and I do take that moment, like if I'm going to a new place, new city, even if it's like I just recently went to Tulsa, Oklahoma, you know, never been, but I got up at like 430, 5:00 in the morning. I walked the city and waited for the sun and I just like took it in and it was really beautiful. I always have that moment and I always have this memory, too, of my dad telling you to remember this moment, you know? So like I said, like, I'm going back to that memory of cutting all the yellow out of that yarn that I was doing, because I had this memory of my mom saying that, you know, yellow wasn't a color for Asians. I knew I wanted to claim back the power over the color yellow. And so I have a picture of the the shop front. It was like all gray. We had painted it gray because we were going to paint over it. And I had picked like yellow. I had picked gray or black because literally that's like the classic color shop frame for Paris. And I had picked like this kind of turquoise blue, which was really weird for me because I generally I'm not really attractive, this guy for some reason. At the paint shop. I was like into it. I painted the turquoise on there and I was like, This is not going to happen. I painted the yellow on there and I was like, Wow, that was that's actually really great. And then it was like, my husband, I would just stood there and he was like, I like the yellow one, you know? And I just think that I was like, this is this is going to be the color of the shop. And then it just really just felt right. You know, I looked at the color and it really felt right. And so immediately, one of the first colors that we made was this color called the beginning of yellow, which is the color of my first shop front. And that's been consistently the color. So I've had to shop since then. And inside my atelier we have yellow walls all over the place. And so it's just like this one, this yellow that I am eternally attracted to. But also because I'm from Kansas. I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz. This was like, honestly, every kid that grows up in Kansas, you watch The Wizard of Oz comes on TV every year. I remember watching it with my family and my dad doing this really funny thing where he'd stand next to the TV and snap his fingers in the moment when it goes from black and white to color. And it was just like this funny moment that we'd all laugh. And it's a great memory I have. And Wizard of Oz has always been a part of my life growing up. And so obviously there's Yellow Brick Road follow the Yellow Brick Road in Kansas. And so I have this yellow. That for me is the memory of what the yellow brick road looked like when I was a little kid. And that's this color called the yellow brick road that I die. And I literally just opened the door today. I literally have like 15 sweaters that are in this yellow brick road color, you can see. In 2015, we moved into the I call it the tiny shop. So it was the first shop that we had where we had literally room for two customers. And then in 2017, we moved to the second shop, which was just about 600 meters from where the the first shop was not very far like a six minute walk. And this one had a bigger had a bigger back of house where we could like die and had a nice, a nicer shopfront there. And I had that shop all the way through the beginning of the pandemic. So we closed the shop. And I think the pandemic hit here in March 2020, and that's when the shop closed. And at the same time, the year before the pandemic, we had been working on constructing a bigger DI studio, which was about 600 meters from the original shop. So my idea was to keep the shop front. We would sell there and then we would just move the dyeing portion out into the new ateliers that we we broke ground for in, I want to say, May 2019. So with the with the goal of us moving into it in March and January 2020. So obviously when you're building things, there's always like these delays and stuff like that. Everyone is going through that. I'm living through that right now. And we didn't hit the January 2020 deadline on all this time. There's like kind of coronavirus going on in the background. I remember because I went to I think I went to Stitches West or something and I was flying back and it was like right before that Vogue Knitting Live, that last Vogue meeting live, and people were talking about coronavirus and I was like, I don't know what's going on. And then I got back to Paris and then things were getting really serious in Paris at that time. So this was between January and February 2020. And I was working in the boutique, managing the the construction here at that Liana going like, you know, what's going on here at this time. We had to start like training our employees on how to protect themselves. And we were trying to put in like social distancing measures. And then all of a sudden lockdown happens in March 2020. And at the same time, right before lockdown, like literally we had scheduled our moving date on March 13th or something like that, and lockdown happened on March 12th. So we were just really shocked. Like I want to say, like overnight, like every all my employees had to stay home and we were supposed to move the hotel here. And so what happened was, is that we we kind of locked down for a few days. And then my husband was like, you know what? I'm just going to move. I'm just going to move from our small studio because we didn't have that much stuff to move to to move to our bigger studio. And he did it. He did it at night when everyone else was sleeping because we weren't allowed to go out. And things are really strict in Paris and they weren't letting people out. And so he had like rented this truck and would just like fill it up with stuff and bring it over to our new hotel, incognito. And this was in March 2020. We got through that first lockdown and a few of our employees started coming back. But in the end we had a huge turnover and we had to rebuild our team. And so we were literally in this new studio and rebuilding the team, trying to manage all these wholesale orders that we had set into place. And I had to go through and figure out which ones we could keep, which ones we had to cancel. And everybody was super understanding because at the same time they were all locked down, too. It was a real I mean, honestly, for me to think back to it, I'm like, How do we get there this time? And somehow we did and we powered through and I was able to build my team up. I think that we when we moved over to the new studio, we went from being a team of 14 to a team of four and starting again from a team of four and building it back up to where we are today, which is a team of 20. Working and it took us about two years to really get back to that level of where we needed to be.
Ashley [00:33:45] There's a lot of repressed memories from that time for me. Do I like.
Aimée [00:33:50] It? It really feels like it was 20 years ago. It was so long ago. It's hard to remember all the details clearly. Yeah. Which is probably a good thing I like. Turn the page on it. You know, I needed to. Yeah.
Ashley [00:34:05] So, do you still have your storefront? Are you just online now or. Tell me a little bit about so people know where to find you.
Aimée [00:34:13] So we don't have our storefront anymore. We closed it officially in May 2021. We we crunch through with the boutique, trying to keep it open through the multiple lockdowns. And then, like the flight restrictions to France, our shop was a destination shop and I just wasn't able to maintain the shop in the way that I needed to it. I just didn't have the customers coming in. So it became a kind of a sore point between my husband and I when we would have to manage the shop because we had so much work managing actually. And then we'd be like, okay, now we think about the shop. And it came to a point where my husband and I were really just like fighting about it all the time. And I just said to me like, Do we really need to continue to do this? I was like, What do we need to do to make this better? And he and I both came to the agreement right at that same was like, we have to close the shop. You know, it's just like it's not viable anymore to keep the shop open. And at the time, this was like France was still on not lockdown, but there were still travel restrictions, like there were countries I still could not travel to France. And we were just not it just didn't make any sense for us to keep paying that expensive rent that we had to keep the space open in case that we could operate again after the pandemic is over, which is it's still not over, you know. So we made the decision to close. And I have to say that it was probably it was the right decision. It was the right decision because I was able to focus 100% on the atelier. It also left me time to start working on some other creative endeavors, like working on my first book, which I released in November of 2000. And I just I think because I was able to close the shop, I was able to focus some of the time that I had on other creative endeavors, which was really important for me because I lost. And I think this is something that a lot of creatives have said to me over the last couple of years. I lost a lot of creativity during the the first two years of the pandemic. Like I literally I don't think I even knit in the first year of the pandemic like and that's like unheard of because I'm always knitting something and have something in my hand. And I remember my husband sitting and we were at home. He was like, You're not knitting anything. Like, why aren't you doing things? Like, I don't have any brain space to knit. Like I literally don't want to knit, which is like such a, like when I say it out loud, it just doesn't feel right. And so as a gift, my husband bought me a machine, knitting machine, a netting machine, and that was what was that helped me spark back my my creativity was teaching myself how to use this vintage knitting machine. I had no instructions. It's from the 1960s. It's in perfect condition. I just had to teach myself how to use it and I was able to re spark my creative, you know, I guess mojo as people say again. So yeah.
Ashley [00:37:11] It feels like you're in a place now that you can look back and it doesn't hurt as much, but also. You're like really happy with where you're at and that. Right. This isn't the end either, right? Like there's so much growth potential like going forward.
Aimée [00:37:28] I miss the one thing that I miss the most about my shop is the interaction with the knitters. And so that's why you probably see me at a lot of events and doing things as my way to interact with the knitters, because it is really important to be able to see people and talk with them and share. I am somebody who I just love listening to the stories of the knitters that I meet. They tell me about why they're knitting this and why they pick these colors and what does it mean to them and everything like that. Because that's what knitting is for me at all. Has a meaning. Everything that I knit and make. It also has a memory linked to it. I just. I've always been someone who has made color. And so, like recently I've started to, like, kind of make some designs, you know? And that's why I've got things like these, like, prototypes of things that I've just kind of whipped up, and they're like sitting over here on the side, and all of them are attached to places that I think cause I usually do all my creating when I'm traveling, because it's a time when I have like uninterrupted time, you know, like you spend 9 hours on an airplane so you can sit there, do like something for 9 hours straight. No one's going to come bother you. Your phone's not going to ring. You're not going to get notifications or anything like that. And so since I've been traveling a lot lately, I usually come back with another idea for a design and things like that. And so that's been something that I've been kind of nurturing over the last year. And yeah, and also at all, every time I try to travel, I come home with like ideas for new colors. And so that's always really exciting too. So I really do enjoy this option, this privilege to be able to travel because I know that's not open to everybody. I do have to say that I like I like the zoom aspect. I like the virtual aspect that happened during the pandemic, being able to connect with people this way. We did a lot of virtual events and it was really great because I was able to connect with people that I generally would not be able to connect with people in Asia, people in South Africa, people in South America and things like that. And so I think that I mean, I know there was a lot of difficult things that happen during the pandemic, but I also feel like a lot of people were pivoted and became became like more open to connecting in new ways, you know, and all these like virtual events that happened, I still really enjoy them. And I still, as much as I crave, is being in touch with people. But I really enjoy the virtual events too, because I feel like there's just more accessibility to people, you know? And that's that's really great.
Ashley [00:40:04] When you think about the future. What are the things that you're most excited about? You touched a little bit on it, but maybe dove a little deeper into that, particularly exploring. Maybe a new avenue as a designer.
Aimée [00:40:20] Yeah. So this is now that I have started making books, and so the books that I make are these like curated collections with designers. So I'm not the designer. I just bring together these designers to make a collection together. So it's like a true it's kind of a collaborative project that I'm doing because I love collaborating. And so this was something, the reason why I came with this idea to make Horsted was in the middle of the pandemic. I wanted to work with people I was craving, working with people. And so I pitched the idea for worst book to my publisher, and she thought it was a great idea because I just reached out to the designers in my first book, and they were all designers that I had worked with before. And so I was like, Hey, we've worked together before. Would you be interested in doing this project with me? And they were all on board with that. And so I just thought, I think that's where my future is going to be taking me, is to more collaborations. Like I am really interested in meeting new people and working together and we have such a great industry and I just really feel like we can really bring each other together to collaborate and move forward. You know, I'm all about collaboration over competition. I hate that. And so I'm always wanting to see like how can we include so and so into this? How can we include sounds? I like like one of one of my friends always tell me she's like, you're all about bringing all the people together, you know? And so that's kind of I think that's where my future is going to be, is bringing the people together, making some more books, and then maybe making a book with some designs that I've made. So I don't want to make any promises because I have I have projects for another book to make, which is going to be another collaborative project. But like I said, I have been working on these prototypes and I have all these ideas for designs and and I feel like sometimes I should just make them myself. Sometimes I just give them to designers. I'll talk to a designer, friends like, Hey, you should make this and take that idea and throw it. And they're always looking at me like, What? And you're giving me the idea? And I'm like, Yeah, just do it. I think you'll do great. And they always do really great and I am super excited to work with them. I give them yarn support. We have like this great launch and everything. It's like such a great I get such a high from working together with people on these projects. And so. Yeah. I think that's where my future is going to be spent doing more collaborations and maybe doing a little bit of design work on the side with a little.
Ashley [00:42:52] Bit of matchmaking between the art and the designer.
Aimée [00:42:55] And yeah, and I think that maybe I'll design with not my yard, you know, like maybe because I want to keep that collaborative process in the design. So if I'm designing with my only my yarn and it's my design that I'm only just designing, collaborating with myself. And so that's kind of what I've done with this second book that I'm going to be releasing next spring is I have collaborated with designers, but also using other people's yarns in the book. So I've been able to contact other yarn companies, reach out to other makers and say like, Hey, let's do this project together, you know? And it's been really exciting to do that. So.
Ashley [00:43:33] Okay. My final question. Is. Your mother didn't really get to see everything that you've done over the last. Decade or so. She's there with you. Obviously, you can feel that as you net. What do you think? If she were here today, what would she say to you? What do you think she would think about everything you've done?
Aimée [00:44:00] I know that she'd be super proud of everything. Well, no matter what I would do, she's always been really proud. But I think. She would just love everything that I've done with your eyes, because I do remember her knitting as a child and the kind of yarn that she knit with. It wasn't always the nicest yarn because it was what we could afford at the time. And I remember when she did get really nice yarn to knit with, she would tell me she's like, This is really nice, and she would tell me why. She was like, Look at how it's twisted. Look at this fiber. It's like silk and merino mixed together. You know, she's like, There's no nylon in here. And so she even before I knew I was a little kid, I just knew that she had made these difference and differences in the art. And she would explain to me why. And so I think that she would be super excited to knit with all the yarns that I'm making right now, especially I started developing bases, starting with Quarry Works, that these are bespoke bases that I designed with the fiber content twist and everything. And I do get a little kick of thinking like my mom would totally love this yarn, you know? So I think that, yeah, she would love what I'm doing right now and she would be really proud.
Ashley [00:45:23] The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers for podcast notes and transcriptions. Visit our blog at makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.