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You’ve probably run into baabaazuzu felted wool hats, mittens, scarves, jackets, purses, scarves, bags and accessories because their products are shipped to over 900 retailers across the United States and Canada (they even have a couple retailers in Japan)! Everything about their work is original, and no two pieces are alike. Sue Burns (co-founder with husband Kevin Burns) has a keen eye for fashion and keeps adding more to the line, and continues to uphold the unique value of their products.
Snuggled among the countless county roads on Leelanau Peninsula lies baabaazuzu. Here, some really AWESOME mittens (and lots of other goodies) are upcycled (the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value) by an enthusiastic group of people. There is a lot of Mitten love with those at zuzu, both literally and figuratively, Lisa Brookfield, General Manager, gushes, “It’s really exciting to have a thriving business hidden away in Northern Michigan.”
Frequently, the creators at baabaazuzu intercept tons of unwanted wool on its way to the garbage dump. Not only are those at zuzu making beautiful things, but they are also helping cut down on landfill usage! There is then a washing and shrink process done to the various sweaters, blankets, jackets, and other clothing, in a process called felting, which is then followed by cutting up the condensed fabrics to separate specific parts to go with the products they make. Lisa explains, “Each piece has its own rules.” There is quite a process that follows, including sending the work out to ladies that work from home, adding decorative detailing to the pieces. Finally, they come back to zuzu to be tagged and prepped for distribution. “It’s manufacturing, but much more personal with its creative touch,” smiles Lisa.
In 2008, baabaazuzu was named a Michigan 50 Company to watch and in 2009 the company reached over $1 million in sales. Quite a bit of success for a sweater accidentally getting shrunk in the wash. It’s rumored that the felting process was discovered in a botched laundry job done by Kevin Burns. Luckily for him, his mistake was a successful one, highlighting upcycling and Northern Michigan creativity! Sue then took these scrunched sweaters and made clothes for their children, which inspired the company’s growth. They no longer make children’s’ clothes, but the adult lines are continually growing in popularity.
The welcoming atmosphere at baabaazuzu, the warm feeling their mittens give you when you slide them on, and supporting a local Michigan business are only a few of the reasons you should look up baabaazuzu online, on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter! ~Joanna Dueweke, Regional Director