Living the Sassy Life
By Kathy Gerhardt
The tag on the children’s clothes at Linden Hills Natural Home reads in part: “Superb comfort. Inspired design from organic and recycled fabrics…this is what fashion should be. This is Sassy Knitwear.”
Designed and hand-sewn by Molly O’Brien, these clothes are not only sassy, but smart, too: smart in design, smart in comfort and smart in that they are created and delivered with as little impact to the environment as possible.
It seems that life has already come full circle for this twenty-seven year old co-op member. O’Brien grew up in the neighborhood and remembers shopping at the co-op when she was as young as ten. She worked, for a time, in the co-op’s deli, during high school, and met her husband, Lawrence, there too (he worked in the deli as a cheese-buyer). Now, after moving about the country for several years, they have settled back in Linden Hills. Her business, Sassy Knitwear, is run out of her home which is located right behind the library. So deliveries to Linden Hills Natural Home mean a short walk around the block.
Before returning to Minnesota, O’Brien and her husband owned a coffee shop café in Bayfield, WI. While in Bayfield, Molly was designing and selling one-of-a-kind hats and scarves. That evolved into her two-year old business.
“I really started thinking about wanting to get it out to more people, wanting to use all organic materials and recycled fabric, and wanting to find a way to use all the clothes that go to thrift stores and then aren’t necessarily bought,” says O’Brien.
“We also wanted to create clothing that was simple and comfortable, but at the same time kind of sassy and stylish—everyday clothing that you can live in and feel good about by people who care. There is some energy that goes into clothing when it is made by someone who really cares and I think people can feel that when they put it on.”
Sassy has a clothing line for infants and young children consisting of rompers and onesies, dresses, recycled jean shorts, and t-shirts with raglan sleeves. The new spring line for kids will be at Linden Hills Natural Home in April. O’Brien’s two-year old son, Kadin, plays a pivotal role in this company in more ways than one.
“I was having a hard time finding things that I really felt fit his spirit and who he was, and there was so much stuff out there with trucks. Not that trucks are bad,” O’Brien smiles. “Kadin gets to wear all the new designs as I am figuring them out, so I know how they look and how he moves around in them and how they fit. I make things in his size first.”
“He was a big part of my inspiration for the organic cotton, wanting [the clothing] to be as pure as possible, and thinking of the environment and the world that he is going to be living in, in the future.”
Sassy also has a women’s line that includes cropped and long pants, shirts and tank tops, skirts, hats and scarves. For space reasons, the women’s clothing isn’t carried at Linden Hills Natural Home at this time, but the Sassy Knitwear web site (www.SassyKnitwear.com) has been updated to showcase the 100% organic cotton items.
There are so many positives about this business for O’Brien. Designing and sewing clothes allows her to tap into her creative side. She’s making responsible clothing from organic and/or recycled materials and her business is truly local.
“That’s very important…working from home, I don’t have to use gas to get to work. I can work in my home and it is great to be able to walk the order over to a local store. I think it is a great example of what the future could become for more local business.”
“Obviously [it’s] very different from factory-made clothes shipped over an ocean and what it takes to get things over here. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be factories to produce things on that scale, but [we should] start going in a direction of having more small businesses with locally-made things that are still affordable. They aren’t going to be as cheap as Wal-Mart, but I think there could be a change in how we look at clothing and buying less ‘stuff’ but of greater quality and [items that we] have a connection with.”