Sarah Oliver Handbags FAQ

Sarah Oliver Handbags FAQ

What is the mission of Sarah Oliver Handbags? Our mission is to launch a movement to engage seniors in the economy with passion and purpose by offering them an opportunity to participate in a company creating handmade luxury goods. As sales of the handbags have grown over time, we became more committed to creating a sustainable, profitable business with beautiful products that supports continued participation by seniors. This mission is so important to us that we amended the Articles of Incorporation of Sarah Oliver Corporation in December 2014 to become a California benefit corporation. A benefit corporation is for-profit business structure that includes a social mission as part of the legal foundation of the corporation, and allows the Board of Directors to make decisions that take that mission into account. At Sarah Oliver Handbags, we believe in applying the strength of the for-profit business model to empower and enhance the lives of seniors. We are inspired every day by the seniors with which we work. Having seen the difference being part of this company makes in their lives, Sarah Oliver Handbags is committed to empowering seniors by re-engaging them in the American economy. What was Sarah Oliver’s inspiration for working with the seniors at The Redwoods Senior Retirement Community (aka, The Purlettes + 1)? Sarah learned to knit from her mom, grandmother and great aunt, and she had close relationships with all of the elders in her family. Sarah wanted to grow her company slowly while she raised her children Annie and Will, and to keep production local. With these fond memories and personal values, Sarah decided to approach...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ann

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ann

Ann. Not a sleeper If these hands could talk, they’d not waste a minute speaking, but would quietly seek out the next adventure. These are the hands of Ann, and they have lived more lives than she has fingers. With knitting as the calm, common thread, Ann has loved, lost and pulled herself up by her bootstraps to carry on; a survivor, a force and one of our favorite knitters. Born and raised in San Francisco, Ann attended Stanford University and married her college sweetheart in her senior year. A geography major, Ann also dabbled in music, economics and political science finding a new sense of adventure with each and every college course, and each course of her life. After college, the young couple found their wanderlust, living in Connecticut, Portland and even in a trailer “because we thought that would be fun” then finally settling in Northern California. Ann and her 2nd husband were avid outdoorsmen hunting antelope, skeet and trap shooting, and nearly making it to Alaska to hunt polar bears. To say Ann has had an active life would simply be a great understatement. Parasailing in Mexico, jet boating in New Zealand, mastering the rapids in Canada, diving in the Great Barrier Reef and horseback riding everywhere from Puerto Rico to London. “Every place I went I looked for something fun to do. I’m not a sleeper.” We can’t imagine there was much time left for the luxury of shut-eye, especially after raising four children! After Ann’s children were grown, she volunteered in the ER at Marin General for 20 years while embracing the idea that...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Anjali

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Anjali

Anjali. Well traveled hands. If these hands could talk they’d say that no matter where you’re born, where you travel or where you end up, it’s good to know the international language of knitting. Anjali was born and raised in India in a small town called Sidhpur. Anjali’s mother wanted her to learn to knit “properly” so she sent her to a proper teacher when she was just 12 years old. And that was just the beginning of the love affair and the common thread that she carried with her around the globe. Anjali went to school in India, received her BA and a nursing degree from Bombay. After marrying in India, she moved to Chicago in 1961 with her cardiologist husband and 8-month old son. After three years and two more children, they moved to London, knitting needles in tow, then buckled up for Toronto, New York and finally Los Angeles California, which led to her favorite destination thus far, San Francisco. Have yarn and needles, will travel! Anjali is most proud of her 3 sons who are grown and doing quite well; one an orthopedic doctor in Maryland, one a cancer researcher at UCSF and her youngest a producer for the LA Lakers. Not bad, Anjali and your traveling brood! It’s no secret that Anjali enjoys traveling and her passport includes stamps from many colorful parts of the world including Jerusalem, Egypt, India, Cashmere and Portugal. This love of travel has led to a love of history and whenever she’s not knitting, she loves to read books about US history and learn “as much as possible”.   And...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gordon

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Gordon

Gordon. 91 years young. If these hands could talk, they’d say life begins at 91.  These are the hands of Gordon, who, at the ripe young age of 90 decided it was time to start knitting because, quite honestly, it was the first opportunity he’d had. Gordon has been busy. Born in Illinois, Gordon joined the Navy right after high school and two years of college as a seaplane pilot, flying amphibious air sea rescues and proclaiming himself “lucky” that just as his training was complete, WWII ended. So Gordon began chapter two, heading to the University of Illinois receiving a degree in Architectural Engineering. His career took him “all sorts of places” from Hawaii to Iran to Mexico to Milwaukee and finally, to California.  When asked if he’d ever built anything I may have seen, Gordon casually mentions the Field House at the University of Wisconsin of Madison. An amazing, exquisite structure where I’d seen countless concerts and sporting events as an undergraduate. “Yes Gordon, I know the Field House. It’s incredible.” He shares family photos of live-filled gatherings of his blended family, which includes eleven grown children and plenty of grand children and “greats”. I can’t help but notice countless colorful paintings intermixed with the family pictures. “Oh yes, I painted those. I think I won a prize for that one.” We’re certain you did. Last July 21st on his 90th birthday, Gordon’s granddaughter thought it might be fun to teach Gordon to knit. Only a grandpa like Gordon; Navy pilot, architect, father x11, grandfather, musician, artist, a man with a perpetual smile and a story to follow,...
Hector: Superstar Yarn Spinner

Hector: Superstar Yarn Spinner

Hector, our original plus one, volunteered to visit the office today and help wind our skeins in to balls! The Purlettes+1 have been anxious to knit more and more and we just can’t keep up with their demand! While we do have a spinning machine to help wind the skeins (we use one by Nancy’s Knit Knacks), the machine still occasionally needs an operator to keep an eye on the yarn to make sure the skeins don’t get snagged. Here at the office, we’re definitely guilty of creating a few rat’s nest once in a while. But Hector was a pro — he even had time to read his magazine while the wheel was spinning. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re typically found winding yarn the “old-school” way with your hands and a chair. Thank you, Hector, for taking the #17 bus from The Redwoods to help us out. I know the Purlettes will be excited to see so many expertly spun balls at Thursday’s knitting...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Audrey

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Audrey

Audrey. A life filled with love. If these hands could talk, they would lovingly explain how the glass is always half full because you are the one who fills it. These are the joy-filled hands of Audrey. One of 237 first cousins in Wisconsin, she grew up surrounded by people who truly valued their hands; farmers, who when not farming, would cozy up around a wood-burning stove with steaming cups of tea and laugh, talk, quilt, knit, crochet and massage each others’ feet. “It was a very sweet way to grow up.” From farming in Wisconsin, to the Peace Corps in Brazil, 19-year old Audrey found herself with a job farming fishing coops and knitting nets for fishermen north of Rio de Janeiro. “I couldn’t resist working with the local women — learning from them and teaching them to sew and embroider baby clothes.” Her infectious smile fills the space as she regales the adventures of her younger days. After five years in Brazil, she and her husband, Jim moved to Maine where they raised two “very creative, amazing” children. She then moved to California to work as a Master Teacher with the UC Berkeley Teacher Training Program in English and Social Studies, grades 6-8. As a Purlette+1 for over a year, Audrey calls knitting one of her long-term loves, and it’s in very good company. “I love my life. I love poetry, kayaking, meditation and hiking and am lucky enough to have been in two very loving relationships; my husband, Jim and my current life partner of 29 years, Betty. I wouldn’t trade a moment of any of...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet LaVonne

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet LaVonne

LaVonne. Hands that dance… If these hands could talk, they would hold their cards very close to their chest and smile. But they might dance a bit first, tease with stories of adventure and travel, and coyly infer that there is more to these stories than she’s willing to tell. With a name like a movie star, LaVonne exudes glamour, class and humor and can even make knitting look like an elegant dance. LaVonne began working right after high school because she couldn’t wait to make her own money and go traveling. The girls in her office all loved to knit and LaVonne joined right in learning by “pure osmosis.”   She knitted and danced her way from South Gate California to the Bay Area at the age of 25. Calling herself a blissfully happy transplant, LaVonne just had to kick up her heels. “I wanted to be Ginger Rodgers. Oh I loved to dance!” During the Great Depression, LaVonne took dance lessons at the very same dance company that trained Shirley Temple and says she can still do the two-step but not much else “because we could only afford three lessons.” There’s the humor. “In the 40’s and 50’s, we would go dancing and do the Jitterbug…” and the hands dance in the air as the sentences trail off again leaving the story much to our imagination. In 1953, Lavonne and 3 girlfriends took their hard-earned paychecks and their quest for adventure overseas via “the big ship” to Europe and meandered for nearly 10,000 miles from Scotland to Italy. Her love of adventure and travel still brings her to...
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ellie

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Ellie

Ellie. Hands with foresight…. If these hands could talk, they’d tell stories of romance, tales of irony and talk about the curse of the hand-me-downs. Ellie began knitting to avoid wearing her sister’s castoffs, which simply “weren’t my style”. As she walked the two miles to school in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1940’s, she passed a storefront where a women’s knitting group met. She decided if she wanted her own style, she’d have to create it herself. And so it began. Ellie’s knitting led her to a job with the Red Cross for an organization called Bundles for Britain. They sent knitted wares and candy bars that soldiers during World War II actually wore…and ate. When it came time for college, Ellie and her fashionable self headed to Pennsylvania where she met her future husband on a blind date. An MIT student who nearly lost his chance with Ellie after not writing to her for not 5 or 6 days, but 10 days after their first date. When he finally did write, a night at the Pops led to him giving Ellie his fraternity jacket, Ellie knitting him socks, and all was forgiven. The rest is knitted in history and the couple was married. After moving to Portland Oregon, then California, the couple had two children; “one of each” and Ellie discovered another interest as well. At age 27, she began working in a retirement community. “I knew we needed programs for elders and I thought that someday, these programs might be here for me.” Ironically, Ellie has resided in the Redwoods in Mill Valley for nearly four years....
If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Esther

If These Hands Could Talk: Meet Esther

Esther. A fine-tuned instrument. If these hands could talk they would likely sing, dance and garden instead. While knitting is definitely one of Esther’s passions, it really needs to take a number and get in line. When she does put down her needles, Esther puts on her walking shoes and takes to the streets and art walks of Mill Valley and its vibrant town square. As part of a jazz A cappella group, Esther and her “Moving Targets” fill this small town with music. We’re just happy she has enough of that energy left for handbags, because her lovely, talented hands knit like fine-tuned instruments themselves. Born in China, Esther came to the United States where her family opened a restaurant in New York. When she was just eight years old, two of her favorite German customers taught her to not only knit, but to knit the European way. “It’s faster when you knit from the left and puts less stress on your fingers.” The reduced stress approach seems to be working well for Esther who literally has more hobbies and interests than we had fingers to count them on. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Esther moved to Mill Valley to raise 4 girls, 7 grandchildren and 1 great…. her most important pastime yet! The best part about working with Sarah, says Esther is “talking to the other women…. plus Hector.” We love that she hums when she knits and when asked when she finds the time, she smiles peacefully and says, “first thing in the morning when the sun hits different redwood trees is my quiet time to...