Lynn & LawrenceThe Perfect Beanie And the Life It Inspires
What began as an artistic pursuit to create the perfect beanie turned into the Lynn & Lawrence lifestyle. The East Hampton husband and wife team of Simon and Jessica Howell combined their talents to design and manufacture simple but beautiful hand-made alpaca hats perfect for their adventures. With their four-year-old son Lakota, they immerse themselves in the enticing natural beauty of the Hamptons, and the hats take them, like their customer base, from hiking to surfing to a stylish Sunday brunch. One of the attractions of coming out East from Brooklyn was the close-knit community (no pun intended) which made them feel welcome.
On the genesis of the brand Jessica comments, “We both went to art school. Simon studied photography, and I studied jewelry. We both had a vision of our own company. It’s difficult doing your own thing but when you’re creative and you find your partner, it’s like two molecules connecting. The support is there so when one person is low the other can pick you up. When we first met, we found out my middle name was Lynn and his is Lawrence, and there was a spark there. We knew we had to do something with it.”
When they first began their business in 2013, they were living in a loft in Brooklyn and Jessica was working as a jewelry designer for clients such as Anthropologie and Banana Republic, and Simon was working as a photographer. Simon had a beloved red beanie which he lost so Jessica offered to knit him a new one. Well that beanie became the envy of the groovy Brooklyn artistic set, and Jessica’s knitting needles could only move so fast. As it was a family business Simon knew just where to go for help. “I got my mother involved in England in Yorkshire. She reached out to her community so we had some old dears knitting the hats,” he remembers with a warm laugh. As the business grew to not only boutiques in Brooklyn but nationally in Urban Outfitters and even to Le Bon Marché in France, they knew it was time as Simon says, “To talk to my accountant and make it a real business.”
While they were expanding in styles and colors, Jessica and Simon knew the simplicity of a beautifully made hat must stay paramount. Jessica explains, “We treat the hats as individual pieces almost like ceramics. Each one is numbered. It’s a limited edition. They are hand-knit by a fair-trade co-op of women in Yorkshire, England and now Peru so you see all the care and time that goes into them.” They also source their alpaca fibers from suppliers that employ fair-trade principles. The styles range from a classic fisherman’s beanie to a watch cap modeled on a WWII Red Cross pattern to upcoming styles inspired by 1960’s Italian ski hats. And with the addition of Lakota to their family, there is a new baby line.
So, what are the biggest rewards and challenges of having your own design business? Jessica and Simon respond, “Rewards include being our own boss and keeping flexible hours which is great with a young child, and we have both been able to be very present in his day to day life. The creative side to the business is always the best part. Collaborating with others on projects and shoots is always a blast. One of our biggest challenges running a business is that we are always switched on. At times, there can be very little down time as we are involved in every aspect and put hours of our lives into the business. It’s not just about what we sell, it’s what we do and who we are that defines our brand.”
And this summer they are hitting the road, a cross-country family adventure in true Lynn & Lawrence style, enjoying the outdoors and vast beauty of America, visiting potential retailers and sharing their story with those along the way. Jessica sums up the dream, “It’s about camping and communing with the wonder and magic of nature.” With, of course, the perfect hat. Stay tuned to the video diary.