Icelandic Design was founded in 1981 by Gerdur Kristjansdottir, a native of Reykjavik, Iceland. Gerdur, who came from long lineage of knitters, grew up watching her mother make the entire family’s clothes and wool socks to stay warm through the brutal Icelandic winters. She herself had learned to knit by age 7. Then, in the early 1980’s, Gerdur’s life took a turn when she decided to start a sweater company with her then retired mother, and to make this family tradition a business. At the time, Gerdur was living in Colorado and the demand for their well-constructed sweaters was smoldering. With an initial wholesale order for 200 sweaters, Gerdur returned to Iceland to employ 20 local knitters that first year, validating her change of course.
After 30+ years, Gerdur is still at the helm, employing women knitters all around the world. Gerdur feels she still uses her social work background as she truly cares for the women artisans she works with to create the finest wool sweaters available. The majority of knitters work out of their homes so that they can stay close to their families, and Gerdur provides scholarships and educational opportunities for their children. “This feels good to me, and is a worthwhile thing” explains Gerdur on her active support of her knitters. “They encourage me to keep the business going.” With their positive feedback and her tradition, the future of Icelandic Design looks warm and cozy.
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