The first thing you need to know is that I live in Minnesota. It gets cold here. Really cold.
It was one of those really cold December mornings when this all started. As I was heading to St. Olaf College for work, I grabbed the blanket off my couch and wrapped it around my waist to stay warm in the cold car. Happily, I stayed warm in the car and while walking into the office from the parking lot. Instantly, I was convinced I had a great idea for a new winter outerwear garment for people living in cold climates.
“Innovation comes from adversity”
-Tom Fisher, Design School Dean, University of Minnesota
After wearing the blanket everywhere I went for about 2 weeks, it was time to come up with something a little more stylish. The first winter was spent experimenting with designs, sizing and fabrics. It was important to me that the wrap be made from wool and that it was easy to wear over any type of clothing, with no zippers or snaps. I also wanted a design that anyone could wear. I kept thinking about scarves. We all wear scarves in the winter – men, women, children, young and old. My garment was simply a scarf for the legs.
“What is the best way to start a clothing line?
Start with one product. This product should be something you are personally passionate about. You must be your own customer. There has to be a compelling reason why you would go out and buy the product you intend to sell.”
By the end of the first winter, I had a prototype and other people were wearing my test wraps! I charged ahead with my idea and continued to develop it until NorSari® was born.
NorSaris® are made in Northfield, Minnesota by talented local seamstresses. From Alaska to England, folks are seeing the value in this simple way to stay warm in cold weather.
Yellowstone National Park, 1950.
doing what she loved
Embracing winter, circa 1975.
As I reflect on the journey I’ve been on with NorSari®, I keep thinking about my mother, Marylin Bretzke. Mom had a great eye for beauty and an adventurous spirit. She was a hard worker who lived a joyous life. She valued friends, nature, health, looking out for others, and above all…family. She would have embraced NorSari® with gusto. She loved winter.