Birds of a Feather

When we sat down to formulate our business plan for Pavo Textiles, one of our initial goals was to locate a reliable mill in the United States working with natural fibers and a transparent manufacturing process. If we did not find the right mill for our venture Pavo would remain an intangible concept.  File under: Dreams

Our intent was to find a mill in the United States, but we cast our net wide, looking at mills from all over the world in order to compare price, skill, sourcing, and technique.  The more time we invested in our search, the more it became clear to us that we absolutely needed to find a mill domestically. The number of textile mills in the United States had been quickly dwindling and when those mills closed, decades of knowledge and expertise were quietly being lost to the dust of history.  From 1997 to 2010, over 1200 textiles mills closed, with most weaving equipment in those mills being shipped overseas to be used in mills producing cheap textiles, destined for import to the United States. Between 2004 and 2009, almost forty percent of the jobs in the textile industry were lost with such jobs being outsourced to cheaper labor in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and China.

We were firm in our conviction to produce American-made textiles and we renewed our search with gusto.  Our initial efforts were disappointing; there were a limited number of mills who could produce to the quality and specifications we required and those that were able to do so were decidedly wary of working with an unknown entity, which is what Pavo was at the time.

In our search one mill we heard about over and over again was The Oriole Mill; they came highly recommended by our contacts in the industry, and were spoken of with a hushed, reverent awe.

The Oriole Mill was founded in 2006 by Stephan Michelson and Bethanne Knudson as the textile industry in the United States was quickly transitioning production to cheaper overseas facilities and leaving laid-off workers and deserted towns in its wake. While other mills were closing their doors, Oriole was setting up shop.  To say that this was a bold, risky, daring move is most certainly an understatement.  In the face of a flagging industry focused on cheap disposable goods The Oriole Mill is deeply committed to weaving high quality textiles made with the finest natural fibers and have made a reputation for being innovative, independent, and luxurious.  Their ideology embodied everything we wanted to be able to say and do with our textiles.  Oriole seemed like a natural fit for Pavo since we shared many of the same convictions:  the desire to create heirloom quality products, fair wages, the use of natural fiber, superior design, unsurpassed technical skill, and a deep and abiding commitment to high quality American made products.  We wanted in.  

For us, it was a match made in heaven. So we called. We emailed. We called again. It took months before anyone at The Oriole Mill would even talk to us. In hindsight, it is not surprising; they are a small artisan mill with exclusive clientele and they offer a unique service no longer found in the States and we were a buzzing fly with an unknown end product.

 

Penumbra Matelassé baby blanket

In a textile industry that’s ninety percent gone, what’s the other ten percent doing? There’s not a lot of quality goods being made. The other part of that ten percent is the high-quality industry. That’s where we come in.
— Stephan Michelson

By the time we met Bethanne and Stephan they had taken on rock-star status, but were even more impressive in person.  Bethanne is a passionate artist and educator. She has the energy of a lightening bolt in both body and mind. She is a masterful technician and designs the cloth from the fiber to the loom, taking into consideration the innate structure of the fabric and what it can support.  Bethanne reminds us of Michelangelo, who was able to see the form of the figure within the stone before the first cut.

Our relationship began with reworking Oriole's English Sonnet design to suit the desired (and required) characteristics of a woven wrap, and, at Bethanne's suggestion, developing Penumbra as a parallel release to create the beginnings of two distinct  collections for Pavo Textiles: En Plein Air and Effets de Soir.  

After ten months of working with The Oriole Mill we are thrilled to announce our exclusive partnership and co-branding under the label 

Pavo Guild

named for our mutual desire to thrive while producing luscious textiles in a constantly shifting market and to also capture the synchronicity of the birds in both our brand names.  The Oriole Mill produces home furnishings that complement Pavo Textiles’s collections, and Pavo Textiles will work with The Oriole Mill to extend our product line and continue our commitment to producing strong, safe, beautiful woven baby wraps.  We plan to innovate and overlap as much as possible, incorporating our collective designs with the traits appropriate to woven wraps to bring you the finest textiles made in the United States.  

Pavo Guild will distinguish itself from Pavo Form in that it will be made from the finest most luxurious fiber on the market, and will be woven exclusively under the partnership of The Oriole Mill.   

In addition to The Oriole Mill we are also deeply indebted to Libby O'Bryan of the adjacent Sew Co, who is responsible for our fine finishing and the development of our final product. She spent hours of her life aligning the border of Parterre, and adjusted our raw size chart to allow for little to no waste in the cutting room.  She asked all the right questions and had all the right answers as we fumbled through the explanation and demonstration of our woven wraps.  The combined forces of The Oriole Mill and Sew Co listened intently as we explained our product—its need to be weight bearing, what safety standards it must pass, how it should feel to parent and baby—and they are continuing to listen and innovate as we grow in our relationship. 

The most sustainable is that which need not be replaced.
— Bethanne Knudson

Pavo Textiles is incredibly lucky and infinitely grateful to be working with both The Oriole Mill and Sew Co. as we begin our exclusive collaboration into woven wraps and beyond.