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From Farm to Fashion

Nicole Delma Weaves a Tale of Local Wool 

The East End has fully embraced the farm to table movement and along with delighting taste buds, supporting local farmers and artisans has also helped to preserve land and the environment. For Nicole Delma, her favorite hobby and stress reducer, knitting, led her in a similar manner to discover and work with local wool growers, using these fabulous fibers to create one-of-a-kind dresses, sweaters, and hats which she sells in her Mind Offline shop in Sag Harbor. It’s a perfect fit with her carefully curated eco-friendly, hand-crafted items and creative projects for the whole family. 

Nicole Delma Photos: Mikey DeTemple

“We think about the waste of fast fashion but not actually the textile fibers we are using,” says Delma, “Mills shut down or switched to synthetics and don’t process natural fibers anymore. And during Covid with the supply chain it was hard to get wool from places like Italy.” A discussion with Laura Sansone who founded NY Textile Lab led her to learn about fibers and local wool production. With her daughters, she started visiting these farms in New York and sheep which produced different types of wool. “You can see how the animals are cared for and meet the shepherdess,” she comments, “It never occurred to me that I could be making clothes by something that grew over on the North Fork.”

Delma connected with New York farms as well as a highly trained group of professional knitters who made samples for fashion designers but were too expensive to ultimately get the production order which was usually sent overseas. With manageable orders of 20 to 40 pieces Delma was able to secure their services and offer creations which “will last a lifetime.” These unique pieces attract the likes of Drew Barrymore and Bruce Weber as well as Isabella Rossellini who is championing her own local wool initiative in Bellport. “The pieces are so beautiful it’s almost like art,” says Delma, “I feel I should hang it on the wall instead of wear it.”

Her founding of Mind Offline is a total pivot from her very online former life as a major marketing maven for brands such as J Crew. Delma says, “I was looking for an alternate reality to getting millions of people to take action online.” Growing up in Silicon Valley and attending a high school that was one of the first national test cases funded by Bill Gates shaped her life view. “We were entirely online and I realized – that was the same time I stopped playing the piano and stopped with my crafts and stopped journaling and all my creative pursuits. I wondered how much this online impacted me. In my own life I have now made decisions to be offline and think in colors instead of spreadsheets. I have set firm boundaries with digital,” and she adds with a laugh, “Which others struggle with sometimes when I don’t return texts.”

Delma’s first business, a sports focused health company came on the heels of 9-11. She started her marketing consultancy in the middle of hurricane Sandy and a week into Covid filed for the LLC to create Mind Offline. “I don’t know if it was my bucket list or realizing my mortality but it’s how I managed the sense that things were out of control.” Knitting still remains her “three-dimensional meditation” and soothes her, a skill she is passing onto her daughters.

Delma now has a small but loyal following catching on to her newest thread. She says, “The goal is not to have large scale production but to educate other people who might want to support farmers and produce fibers locally.” She wants to be able to label these unique wool creations with not only a number but ultimately the name of the farmer and maybe, even the sheep. “You get a different feeling when you spend money on something you are connected to,” she explains, “You are glowing.”