In a time when it's not uncommon to hear that companies are "moving home" and focusing on U.S. production, Amy Cooper of Austin founded Red Twist to honor China by way of its materials, production and philanthropy.
Two years ago, Cooper and her family lived in China, and the frequent travel left her uncomfortable and cold amid the constant stream of planes, trains and automobiles. She knew what she wanted: a lightweight wrap that would stand up to the test of time.
Thus, without any sort of fashion background, she began her search for the perfect material to create her own sweater. "[Red Twist] is a very self centered business venture," she laughs about the business' inception.
After searching in various cities and countries — including Hong Kong and India — Cooper sourced the fabric she'd been looking for in neighboring Mongolia — warm, soft 100 percent pure cashmere. She then cut the fabric in a one-size-fits all sweater-slash-wrap style and quickly amassed a waiting list of friends who each wanted their own. It was then, while still living in China, that Red Twist was born.
"I do feel a sense of investing in the country that gave me the opportunity to do this — the cashmere is theirs so they should have the opportunity to make it." - Amy Cooper
"I wouldn't have been able to do it if I didn't live there and have the easy access to Mr. and Mrs. Wu, who were the original people manufacturing my wraps," she explains.
"[The design] was matter of trial and error of how I wanted it to lay and cover up certain areas. I think being in China gave me the opportunity to play around with the materials with the seamstress there and do something that worked."
Cooper is so thankful for the business' success that she's committed to giving back to the country that made the dream a reality.
"It is important to me [to keep working with China] and I can't imagine having the manufacturing based anywhere else," she says.
"The cashmere itself comes from Mongolia, it's two-ply, and I wouldn't know how to replicate here. I do feel a sense of investing in the country that gave me the opportunity to do this — the cashmere is theirs, so they should have the opportunity to make it."
After witnessing the hardships of young girls living in China, Cooper decided that the warm, soft feel of cashmere "could transcend fashion and provide the comfort that comes from knowing that one is doing good, not just feeling good." So, the mother of three daughters commits to a quarterly donation of a portion of every Red Twist purchase to the Josephine Charles Foundation.
Cooper has no plans to introduce different styles or cuts — the one-size-fits all format is a pretty fail-proof gift — but this fall she introduced nine new colors (including a burnt orange that's bound to sell out once football season in Austin is met with chilly weather).
Thanks to Cooper's thoughtful mission, you can now feel good, not guilty, about wrapping yourself in luxury.