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Check Out Sue Burns’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sue Burns. 

Hi Sue, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Baabaazuzu, which I co-produce with my husband, Kevin debuted thirty years ago as a children’s line in an effort to salvage some of my shrunken sweaters due to a laundry error (Kevin is guilty). Consequently, our product design stems from the use of post-consumer wool garments, which are transformed into new and useful fabrics by way of a rigorous felting process. During our brief interlude with the children’s creations, we had so many adult women (and now men!) taking notice of the style and wanting the same for themselves. We quickly switched gears from the children’s wearables by upsizing the styles to meet our new adult size demand. And just as quickly, we took notice of the “fall-away” fabrics from our first designs, which we then repurposed as our mittens, then hats, and so on, taking our initial action to salvage my shrunken sweaters one step further. And just like that, we were green before green was cool! We currently transform 1000 pounds of discarded wool garments per month into hats, mittens, scarves, fingerless gloves, and much more for men and women. The method by which we blend our patterns, colors, and textures has become a Baabaazuzu signature trait. Over time, we have mastered these design aesthetics, which our consumer has come to know and love. 

Though we have many (!) best sellers that are staples to the Baabaazuzu product line, inspiration for new product is an ongoing effort and comes to us in many forms. For starters, the raw goods we upcycle vary widely, providing a large format for inspiration. What’s trending now is another wealth of inspiration to us. We spot trends, like fingerless gloves, say, and then simply put a Baabaazuzu spin on them. And our Baabaazuzu fans are an endless source of inspiration. They ask, we listen! 

Our top sellers, hands down (pun intended) are our classic mittens and fingerless gloves. Side note-my favorite product to create are our mittens, though I am eager to design all things Baabaazuzu. Our mittens have been around for our entire 30-year ride and my connection to their design is deeply rooted in the Baabaazuzu evolution. 

Our claim to fame has been founded on our undeniable, unrivaled function and design of each Baabaazuzu creation. Our universal appeal is due solely to our quality of construction, ensuring the utmost warmth, comfort, and longevity for the person who has so carefully selected and now covets their very own Baabaazuzu original. 

In addition to creating a product line from reclaimed materials. we are also proudly made in the USA. Though we could manufacture Baabaazuzu from many other places, we are Michigan natives and have loved living in and working from the beautiful Leelanau County of Michigan. Bonus-it doesn’t hurt to be known for the warmest mittens made in the mitten state! 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Looking back 30 years, there wasn’t one repurposed sweater mitten, hat, or anything! As Baabaazuzu became a recognized brand, we became a popular target for inspiring others and look-alike products surfaced aplenty. Without knowing it, Baabaazuzu created an entire industry of this nature, which is a pretty big deal to us. I am particularly proud to remain the leader in our industry by adhering to strict standards of quality and innovation. 

When you span three decades you encounter challenges, change, and hurdles, along with your successes. A notable and ongoing challenge for us is an everchanging shift in sales/marketing channels for our product line. We are a blend of wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales and know that our efforts to reach customers in both arenas is necessary to our brand building. We continue to market Baabaazuzu through in-person wholesale trade shows, as well as at in-person retail events. The challenge today is having to also be present in a digital world. While there is great opportunity in the “newer” way, an additional investment in time and money must be made in order to participate on these platforms. Fortunately, we are up for the challenge and have enlisted some savvy help here. In the end, we know that collectively, all of these efforts are instrumental in introducing the world to Baabaazuzu! 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
The product line we produce at Baabaazuzu encompasses mittens, fingerless gloves, hats, scarves, and bags for men and women. We also create a jacket line for women. All is created from post-consumer woolens, refashioned into these Baabaazuzu styles. 

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Our Baabaazuzu fans! Our success is largely attributed to our loyal customers. People just fall in love with what we do! We really do pour our heart and soul into every Baaabaazuzu product and design. 


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