By now, these mittens, and the meme that made them famous, need no introduction. Senator Bernie Sanders wore a bespoke pair of mittens made by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis to the inauguration, and gave the whole world something to enjoy together after an unprecedented election cycle.
Jen’s inbox quickly filled with over 10,000 requests, but her heart was with her family and students. In several tweets and interviews, she explained that she would not be taking orders for the upcycled mittens, and selflessly encouraged those hungry for them to work with other makers.
Since then makers across America have been scrambling to fulfill the demand, but one Chicago maker team has a unique approach to serving the masses of folks interested in these now iconic mittens.
Husband/wife team Chad and Jess Schumacher of Allegory Handcrafted Goods have created a plan to recreate the exact look of the bespoke, one-of-a-kind pair of mittens worn by Bernie, while using all recycled materials and donating one-third of their profits! They’ll be supporting teachers’ classroom projects on DonorsChoose in honor of Jen Ellis, the original mitten maker.
“When Jen looked at an inbox full of orders and decided she was busy changing the lives of second graders, we were inspired. And we wanted to create something that would give everyone a tangible connection to the fun moment our country shared, right when we needed it most,” said Schumacher.
The new mittens will achieve the same beautiful mishmash of woven patterns as Bernie’s by using custom woven fabrics created from recycled yarn. The fleece lining will also be recycled. The Schumachers are planning to use traditional manufacturing rather than handmade processes, but have committed to ensure that all workers in the supply chain are paid a living wage.
“When you want a few thousand of something that look Identical, traditional manufacturing just makes more sense. But we’re committed to honoring the values of the original mittens every step of the way,” Schumacher said.
Based on their track record, they might be just the folks to do it. They founded their maker business, Allegory Handcrafted Goods, in 2012 on the belief that the products we use every day should be made to last, have a story you can be proud of, and have a positive impact on all the people they touch along the way. They usually work in wood and leather, focusing on materials with a story. Their messenger bags are lined with fabric handwoven in Ecuador using Incan traditions, and they often work with wood that has taken part in historical events such as The Chicago Fire rebuild, a WWII battleship, or the Selma voting rights march. And their track record with crowdfunding these historical projects prepared them to be able to launch the Bernie Mittens Indiegogo Campaign the day after Jen Ellis announced she would not be taking any more orders.
“The internet moves fast, we’re just trying to keep up,” Schumacher quipped in the Indiegogo video.
The Schumachers have assembled a team of industrial designers and vendors they have worked with in the past, as they occasionally consult with other organizations interested in crowdfunding.
“We’re fortunate to have a design team that has made and shipped millions of gloves of various types, and all of their trusted vendors at our disposal,” Schumacher said. “When I called them that night the whole conversation started as a joke, but in 20 minutes we had a production plan, budget, and short list of qualified vendors for each aspect of production.”
These options enable the Schumachers’ team to handle a wide range of demand, and while their Indiegogo project has a goal of $30,000, the Schumachers are ready to fulfill as much meme-driven demand as necessary.
Selling for $34 a pair, the mittens are available at www.indiegogo.com (search Bernie Mittens), or follow this link.
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Allegory’s mission is to raise the bar for what people expect from products and brands. They believe that products should be made to last, have a story you can be proud of, and have a positive impact on all the people they touch along the way. Founded in 2012 on Kickstarter, they’ve brought 16 of our own crowdfunding projects to life and consulted on numerous others.
DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and backers can give any amount to the project that inspires them. From musical instruments to stem and tech supplies, DonorsChoose helps teachers create powerful educational experiences when their local districts don’t have the funding to do so.