When temperatures drop, it can be difficult to get children to play outside, especially little ones. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, and nor is it that way in certain parts of the globe. Meet Vibeke (Becca) Kvam Johansen. Originally hailing from Norway, but now living in Brooklyn N.Y., Becca discovered upon moving that some of her Norwegian traditions hadn’t quite translated to America. She set out to change that with Ella’s Wool.
MW: Tell me a bit about yourself.
VJ: I’m from Oslo, Norway. I moved to Brooklyn, NY, in 2011 with my husband and two kids.
What is Ella’s Wool and what inspired you to start this company?
The inspiration for starting Ella’s Wool was when I discovered all the empty playgrounds in Brooklyn during winter time.
We were practically all alone at the playgrounds, which are usually packed the rest of the year. Then I realized that we dressed differently from other folks around here.
After living an active, outdoorsy life in Norway for over thirty years, I’ve learned that the only fabric that works when it’s extremely cold is wool.
So I started to import the clothes (wool clothes) I missed for my kids and started Ella’s Wool.
The wool product I missed the most was a special kind of second layer wool pants that all the kids in Norway have, at least, a couple of in their drawers.
I started to make my version of these pants. They’re called Tubes and are made of 100% pre-shrunk merino wool. I make them here in the US.
You put on long johns or tights and then Tubes on top. Then under snow pants or rain/wind pants. They are extremely warm.
Why is wool so awesome for babies and toddlers, in particular?
For babies, wool is super. (Or anyone else who can’t express whether she’s too cold or too hot.) I had both my kids in Norway (the oldest one in December), and I wouldn’t have known how to be outside without it. My daughter Ella was taking naps outside all year from she was about two week. She wasn’t sick a single day.
Wool regulates the body temperature and wicks away moisture. To keep warm and dry with wool it is very important that there is no other fabric between the skin and the wool.
Merino wool base layers are made of fine merino wool and are very soft and comfortable. Tubes are great for babies, especially for babies in carriers. After placing the baby in the carrier, roll down the cuff at the bottom to cover any open area on the legs. Tubes are made with long cuffs that can be rolled up and down at the bottom of the pants. This makes the pants last a long time, too.
What makes Ella’s Wool different from other merino or alpaca wool products?
I only have brands that I’ve tested out myself and known for years. Also, as a mother myself, I appreciate wool that is machine washable. (Wash at wool program with wool detergent, no tumble dry). Here’s how to care for wool.
What’s your favourite product in your line?
Tubes. They’re great for everything from skiing to camping or just going to a playground in Brooklyn.
Any other tips for parents wanting to get outdoors with their kids?
Last year I made an infographic about how to dress your kid in different temperatures. Check it out!
READERS: Save 10% off all products at ellaswool.com with the code 10UNDER. Expires 1/31/2016.