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 the Activities Director at The Redwoods Senior Retirement Community, in Mill Valley, California. They agreed to post a sign-up sheet for knitters interested in working with Sarah Oliver Handbags. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Sarah Oliver Handbags soon had a whole team of amazing knitters, who named themselves The Purlettes +1. In the early days, the seniors just could not seem to get enough to knit and became more engaged and proud to be a part of Sarah Oliver Handbags with each passing week. Working with seniors is the perfect fit for our business.
Are the knitters paid and how is the pay rate determined?
We pay each of the knitters for their work. We strive to fairly compensate each of the knitters for their work on each handbag they create. The Purlettes + 1 work on Sarah Oliver Handbags independently, and knit wherever and whenever they want. Some knit in groups while others knit on their own, while watching TV or while out and about. In other words, the Purlettes + 1 work at their own pace and can knit as many or as few bags as they wish to create. We love that each of the knitters do as much or as little knitting as they want to do!
We have no production quotas because we respect that each knitter contributes differently. To treat the knitters fairly and commensurate with their available time, interest, and skill level, they are paid on a per-handbag basis. The pay rate is different for each handbag. In general, our pay rates are based on a fair hourly rate and the average stitch rate for a proficient knitter (the Average Stitch Rate). For each handbag, we calculate the average length of time it would take a proficient knitter to knit that handbag by determining the average number of stitches required to create that handbag (Stitches Required per Handbag), and then divide the Stiches Required per Handbag by the Average Stitch Rate. We then set the pay rate per handbag by multiplying this average length of time by a fair hourly rate. Obviously the larger the handbag, the more stitches are required, and therefore the more the knitters are paid! In all cases, the knitters are paid for their work no matter their knitting speed or skill level.
How many handbags can a knitter knit in a week?
The knitting rate varies widely from knitter to knitter. We create overall production estimates based on the average of the knitters’ individual production rates.
How does Sarah Oliver Handbags plan handbag production?
It is our strict policy not to have any quotas. We do not require the knitters to make a certain number of handbags in a week. While the knitting rate varies widely from knitter to knitter, over time, we find that the production of each knitter is fairly predictable. Once a Purlette has knit for us for several weeks, we are able to determine how many pieces he or she likes to knit each week. We create overall production estimates based on the average of the knitters’ individual production rates.
How does Sarah Oliver Handbags manage quality and consistency of the handbags?
It is always our goal to maintain the quality and consistency expected by our customers and the retail stores that carry our handbags. Our overall approach is to embrace the uniqueness of each handbag. It took years to adjust our patterns to ensure that the handbags meet our standards. We pride ourselves on working with each knitter in a respectful manner and helping him or her to knit the highest quality handbags.
How has Sarah Oliver Handbags been funded until now?
For the most part, we are self-funded. Early on, Sarah borrowed money from family and friends, including one very special friend who is a huge supporter. Our team was in the process of seeking more formal investment when Sarah Oliver had the opportunity to appear on Shark Tank in early December 2015.
Does Sarah Oliver take a salary?
Sarah Oliver Handbags has not yet made a profit. Currently, any revenue we receive is used to cover costs and expenses. Sarah Oliver has not taken a salary since she founded the company, and instead has invested any revenue into growing the business.
What happens to the profits of Sarah Oliver Handbags?
Sarah Oliver Handbags has not yet made a profit. Currently, any revenue we receive is used to cover costs and expenses. While working with The Purlettes + 1, we have learned about several health challenges unique to knitting seniors, including but not limited to macular degeneration and arthritis. Once we are profitable, we hope to create a foundation that would donate to charities that support these and many other senior causes.
How do you determine pricing for Sarah Oliver Handbags?
Until Sarah Oliver’s appearance on Shark Tank in early December 2015, Sarah Oliver Handbags was primarily a wholesale business. Online sales and traffic were a very small percentage of sales. To protect our relationships with wholesalers, we are not able to offer prices less than what retailers charge after they purchase from our wholesalers. The prices on our website reflect prices set by the retailers. Needless to say, we are thrilled with the overwhelming increase to online sales since Sarah Oliver appeared on Shark Tank.
How do I become a Purlette?
We would love to have as many Purlettes as reasonably possible. Since Sarah Oliver’s appearance on Shark Tank in early December 2015, we have received many requests from individuals all over the country who would like to knit for us. While we plan on expanding soon, we require time to determine a growth strategy that protects our social mission. If you have submitted a request, we will respond as soon as possible.
If I placed an online order, when will it be shipped?
Thank you for purchasing a Sarah Oliver Handbag! The Purlettes are thrilled about all of the orders. We are working as hard as we can to process your order. Please understand that our handbags are knit by hand and that our current team of Purlettes can only handle a certain amount of production. It is our strict policy not to have any quotas and we do not require the knitters to make a certain number of handbags in a week. Therefore, we hope that you can be patient if we are not able to ship your order ASAP. All orders for handbags placed in December 2015 are now on backorder until January 2016. We are in the process of determining ship dates for all customers based on our current production capacity. We hope to provide you with a specific delivery date as soon as possible. Please bear with us, and thank you for your support!
If I placed an online order in December 2015, is it possible for it to be delivered before Christmas?
Thank you for purchasing a Sarah Oliver Handbag! The Purlettes are thrilled about all the orders. We are working as hard as we can to process your order. Please understand that our handbags are knit by hand and that our current team of Purlettes can only handle a certain amount of production. It is our strict policy not to have any quotas and we do not require the knitters to make a certain number of handbags in a week. Therefore, we hope that you can be patient if we are not able to ship your order ASAP. All orders for handbags placed in December 2015 are now on backorder until January 2016. We are in the process of determining ship dates for all customers based on our current production capacity. We hope to provide you with a specific delivery date as soon as possible. Please bear with us, and thank you for your support!
Can I buy a Sarah Oliver Handbag from a retail location?
Nearly 100 local stores around the United States carry our handbags. Under the “About” tab, please click on “Store Locations” for a list of retail locations that carry Sarah Oliver Handbags.