For another fun session of our Founder's Wednesday series, we went live with Danute Rasimaviciute, co-founder of The Knotty Ones- a sustainable, contemporary knitwear brand ethically made by female artisans in rural areas of Lithuania. Founded by three best friends- Sandra, Danute, and Akvile, the Knotty Ones was started with a belief that it’s nice to be cool, but it’s cooler to be nice! Taking a step away from the dark side of the fashion industry, The Knotty Ones is all about empowering people who make the clothes.
Sandra, Danute, and Akvile met in grad school, pursuing the same Masters's degree, sharing the same dorm room. After graduation, they all chose different career paths, went on to do different things. Six years ago, Danute moved to New York, as an editor to a Fashion Tech start-up by Ashton Kutcher, widely popular as an American actor, but he is also a great entrepreneur and investor. "Working directly with him, I learned first-hand what it's like to build a brand", says Danute.
After having worked with several different start-ups, all three friends just happened to be in Lithuania at once, where they met, got to talking, reminiscing about their South East Asia travels, their local craftsmanship. During this conversation, they realized how Lithuania is also known for its tradition of knitting. Sadly this craft is dying because no one is making contemporary knits that attract consumers. After one too many mimosas, they decided to do it themselves and came up with the brand- The Knotty Ones. Rest, as they say, is history.
"Challenging each other has led to innovation throughout our history, and definitely contributed to where we at are today."
Friends Turned Business Partners
When asked about how they maintain healthy relationships as friends, founders and business partners, Danute says the secret to finding the correct co-founder is to see how they complement you and the business, in the sense what skill sets they bring to the table that you don't already possess.
"It's a miracle that all of us studied the same thing, but chose completely different paths. This is how we each brought in different skill sets and different perspectives. The key is to balance things out and be complementary."
The Design Process
Unlike most of the fashion industry, instead of dropping collections, The Knotty Ones focuses on individual pieces. There is constant pressure in an industry that works on creating a new collection, dropping it, keeping it for four months, and then removing it entirely. As a brand that is all about celebrating the craft of knitwear, this industry notion just does not do justice, according to Danute.
"When we look at sketches, we think- will this still be relevant a year from now? Can we keep it in our inventory two years from now?"
The brand works with a wide range of designers, globally as well as up-and-coming Lithuanians. The founder talks about the designer they are working with currently, who is based in New York, originally from Porto Rico, and has a background in sustainability. The nature of hiring is truly holistic, creating more and more opportunities for marginalized women, something the industry most definitely needs.
Check out the entire conversation to know more about building a community, diversity and inclusion, fundraising and profitability, and more.