Aileen Lee chats to Anouk O’Connell, co-founder of Olannmor
I studied Tourism Management in the Netherlands, where I grew up. After moving to Ireland in 2008 I spent a couple of years working in the tourism industry. Since 2012, however, my focus has been on raising our three children. But my creative and entrepreneurial side was undeniable, so I opened a small Etsy shop with handmade home decor and gift items.
Shortly after that, I met Frederique van Buuren, and we both had our eye on the beautiful chunky merino wool and tried sourcing it in Ireland. When we were unsuccessful, we decided to join forces and introduced the wool in Ireland under our brand, Olannmor, which is Irish for big wool.
Olannmor has become the go-to place in Ireland for chunky merino knits. We have a full range of home decor and fashion items: cushions, wreaths, bed runners, pompoms, hats and wraps. We also offer a selection of DIY kits and wool in various amounts.
Our workshops kicked off in October 2018 and are a real success. You get to knit a blanket, cushion or wreath and go home with a finished product.
During the summer we spend a lot of time designing new products: selecting colours and materials, working on prototypes, writing out patterns, and calculating prices. We also start planning our winter season — what markets or other sales platforms suit us, as well as product launches.
During autumn and early winter, it is all go. Long days of knitting, meeting customers at markets, wrapping and posting online orders, and a couple of workshops make for what we call “crazy-busy season”. We love it!
In late winter and springtime, we usually focus on workshops. People who have seen or received our products over the Christmas season love coming back for more, and what better way to do that than to make something yourself?
During 2019, we developed some lovely relationships with corporate events organisers, like Ballyknocken Cookery School and Clive Agency. Planning, preparing and teaching corporate workshops is something we really enjoy. Our knitters usually don’t know what exactly they are doing until on the day itself.
We live in an old woodcutter’s cottage in the middle of a forest, so country style is my main focus.
Comfort and functionality are high on the list of priorities, but I can’t resist adding some soft chunky knits for instant luxury and style.
The Wicklow Mountains are not only our home, but also my main inspiration. Olannmor’s colour collection offers a wide variety of natural colours and our priority is to only craft with natural, durable and environmentally sustainable materials so that we can look after our planet whilst creating.
I’m thrilled to see the slow change to more conscious consumption. People are choosing more natural materials, handmade products with a story, and less mass-made items. Olannmor uses only use 100% wool, no man-made fibres and our packaging is all reusable and/or recyclable. This has been non-negotiable since day one.
I’m building a lovely collection of mugs, all designed and made by very talented Irish ceramicists.
I really admire Michelle Harvey, designer/maker and creator of Crayon Chick. She designs and makes beautiful homewares and jewellery using unusual materials in the most stunning colours.
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We are getting new stock in, so if you’d like to get some merino wool (new year’s resolutions) - please order before 4 January 2020 midnight and we’ll deliver the wool within the next two weeks. You can order in quantities of 500 grams or 1 kilo in any of our nine collection colours. Any queries, just drop us a line! • 📷 Big balls of chunky merino - duck egg, damask, mink, cloud and mustard
I’d love to design and make something really big using our chunky merino wool. Using the wool for something different than knitting, making it art.
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Midterm break filled with lie ins, forest walks, reading books and doing crafts. Just joking. They wake at 7am, are on a constant sugar high due to all the Halloween parties, there's been non stop facepainting to the point where their faces are permanently yellow and the house looks like it was hit by a bomb. Let's keep it real. Definitely fancy a cosy night under a blanket so. Like this moss stitch small blanket in oyster.
Design and trends are lovely, but always choose for you, whether it’s making or buying. Choose long-term and quality over fast fashion and interiors. It has to work in your home and life, not just look good on your Instagram feed.