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Fashion brand The Knotty Ones empowers female knitters in rural Lithuania

Leveraging sweaters as a catalyst for social change, The Knotty Ones creates premium garments while uplifting Lithuanian women. The knitwear brand, which is based in both Vilnius and New York, works with a team of around 70 hand-knitters who work from home in rural Lithuania, as well as with two family-run, female-founded factories.

Men are the breadwinners in many non-urban areas in Lithuania, and decently paying jobs for women are hard to find. But employing knitters in those regions is about more than providing them with a source of income, says The Knotty Ones: "By encouraging financial independence, we're ensuring women here have voices in their households and communities. The human touch is evident in every garment, with each one bearing the name of its knitter.

In addition to ethical labor practices, the brand's founders have also rooted their business in environmental responsibility, using only natural, biodegradable materials such as Merino wool, cotton and linen. Instead of plastic, buttons are made from corozo nuts and packaging from corn starch. The Knotty Ones was founded in 2014 and recently raised EUR 250K from an all-female group of investors to grow in key markets and increase its social impact.

Trend Bite

Mission-driven brands like The Knotty Ones usually originate from a founder's desire to have a positive impact, whether on the planet at large or a specific group like rural women in a small Baltic country. On the receiving end, consumers remain eager to become part of an inspiring endeavor and can turn a singular pursuit into a shared purpose.

An August 2023 survey by Amex of people in the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, UK and Hong Kong found that 68% consider a brand's values when purchasing or renting from a luxury label and 71% care more about craftsmanship and sustainability than a designer label. Which spells opportunity for impact-first organizations with a knack for communicating their values and goals.