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“You knit as much as you need to. There’s very little waste to it.”
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DESIGNER, THE RARE CREATURE
“Once you go to fashion school, you have this image of what your life is going to be, but in reality, it’s so different from what you imagine,” Lisa Li says with a laugh in her sunny, minimalist dining room, “I’m now doing knitwear which is not exactly what I studied back in school.”
It’s not. Li studied business and marketing before going into sales and styling at Gucci. She always had an interest in design however, and soon she found herself back at school to study fashion and apparel design at Parsons. When she graduated and began working in the design world, she was amazed by the amount of waste that was occurring. “I was just like, ‘This can’t be it.'”
She found the sustainability that she was looking for in knitwear. “You knit as much as you need to. There’s very little waste to it, compared to traditional cut and sew and wovens.”
In September, Li is launching a startup venture called The Rare Creature, a line of sustainable and ethical knit kits. Each kit contains a step-by-step knit pattern, knitting needles, and ethically-sourced alpaca yarn. Li knew that because The Rare Creature’s focus was on minimizing waste, the yarn used should be friendly to both the animals it was sourced from as well as the environment.
After attending a trade show and researching many different mills, she settled on a mill in Peru that specialized in alpaca yarn. The most important factors that she was looking for were the treatment of the animals and the quality of the yarn. “Alpaca yarn is one of the best yarns out there right now, so I knew it would be alpaca. The mill we chose does an amazing job. They really respect the animals.”
Li and her husband, who is acting as her partner in this sustainable business venture, visited the mill in the spring. The treatment of the alpacas impressed them enough to select this mill to supply The Rare Creature’s yarn.
Li loves to knit and her passion is evident throughout her New York City apartment. A basket full of cream and white yarn rests next to a bookshelf and a knitting project sits center stage on the dining room table. Her mood board features rows of knitting swatches with different stitches and textures of yarn. “If you have an idea that’s really inspiring and really pushes you, that’s what fuels you,” she says. We couldn’t agree more.
The Rare Creature is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign. You can support Lisa and The Rare Creature here.
What is the best thing about working in fashion in New York?
What kind of style inspires you? Fashion or otherwise.
What’s one item in your closet that you can’t live without? Why is it special?
What’s on your playlist right now?
“less is more” or “more is more”?
Could you draw a map of where you live or work in New York with your five favorite spots?
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TEXT & PHOTOS BY ELIANA MARIE RODGERS
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