Design/Life: Meet Anouk O’Connell, co-founder of Olannmor

Design/Life: Meet Anouk O’Connell, co-founder of Olannmor

Aileen Lee chats to Anouk O’Connell, co-founder of Olannmor

What’s your background?

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.

What’s a typical workday like for you?

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?

Tell us about a recent project you have worked on?

View this post on Instagram

A very special, custom corporate workshop this afternoon at the stunning @ballyknocken with @mci_ireland.

A post shared by Olannmor (@olannmor) on

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.

What’s your design style?

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.

What inspires your work?

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.

Your favourite trend?

View this post on Instagram

A warm and stylish blanket, handmade from pure merino wool by the Olannmor team in Co. Wicklow - a perfect gift for Christmas!

A post shared by Olannmor (@olannmor) on

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.

What’s your most treasured possession?

I’m building a lovely collection of mugs, all designed and made by very talented Irish ceramicists.

Favourite designer?

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.

Your dream project?

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.

Have you any design tips for us?

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.; Instagram: @olannmor;

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