3 min

Northern Michigan mill's yarn used in Olympic clothing - Located in East Jordon, Michigan, near Charlevoix and Boyne City.

February 2014 local TV interview

Stories from November 2013:

The Stonehedge Fiber Mill in East Jordan, just finished making four thousand pounds of wool yarn that will be used to make sweaters by one of America's most famous designers, Ralph Lauren.

It all started two years ago, when a woman with big city style made a stop at their small yarn shop. She asked very detailed questions about their operation and the quality of yarn.

"Before she left she took some yarn with her and said she worked for a designer in New York and she wanted to see if they could use it in something," Deb McDermott, mill owner said.

Two months later, McDermott got an unusual phone call from a man in New York City interested in yarn samples.

"My husband was sitting behind me and my mouth just drop open," McDermott said. "I was just talking to Ralph Lauren and from there it just went on."

This small mill received a contract from Ralph Lauren to make four thousand cones of wool yarn in eight different colors.

During the whole process of making the yarn, they were told very little.

They had no idea what it was going to be used for until last week, when they saw their creation on revealed on national TV.

Their wool yarn, was used to create sweaters and hats that will be worn by hundreds of Team USA athletes during the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.


Debbie McDermott, owner of Stonehedge Fiber Mill, said clothing company Ralph Lauren enlisted her operation to provide 4,000 pounds of yarn in eight shades to be used for Olympic sweaters, as well as knit hats.

The McDermotts said the first step toward Stonehedge's involvement in the project occurred about two years ago, when a New York-based clothing designer working with Ralph Lauren saw a sign for the fiber mill and its yarn shop along nearby M-32 and decided to stop. She left with some yarn.

Stonehedge followed up with the clothing company by providing numerous samples over several months. Wool top, the raw material for the yarn, was to be provided by an approved supplier, North Carolina-based Burlington Industries.

Debbie said she learned that the softness of Stonehedge's yarn was the quality that had piqued the Olympic clothing supplier's interest.

Stonehedge shipped the last of the yarn in Ralph Lauren's order to California in late summer for sweater production. Debbie said hundreds of sweaters were to be produced for coaches and athletes. Plans call for U.S. team members to wear the garments for the closing ceremonies of the February 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, she added.

Processing of the yarn for the Olympic sweaters took place at Stonehedge's location in East Jordan's Lake Street Center industrial complex. There, the company also produces its own line of yarn that's offered at wholesale and carried in about 250 retail locations internationally.

Stonehedge Fiber Mill was launched 17 years ago to provide custom processing of wool into yarn. The McDermotts, who operated a petting farm at that time, pursued the new business as a supplementary source of income, and originally used two rooms for the operation.

Stonehedge has since expanded several times, and now employs 14 people. The wholesale production site was added about three years ago, with the farm site still in use for custom processing services and retail sales.
Annual sales have stood at about $1 million for Stonehedge as of late, with the McDermotts' Stonehedge Fiber Milling Equipment generating sales of about $800,000 yearly. That business has developed equipment for about 40 U.S. mills plus some international clients.

Around the time of the 2012 Summer Olympics -- for which Ralph Lauren also was a key supplier of U.S. uniforms -- there was something of an outcry about the foreign sourcing of the clothing, made largely in China.


"Wool gets a bad reputation, and a lot of people think they're allergic, but they really just can't stand scratchy sweaters," she said. "Our yarn is very soft."

Feb 23, 2014

#yarn - #business

by john - 716 words - 3 min read
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