This week on the podcast and just in time for cooler weather, Logan is joined by Swans Island Co. President, Bill Laurita.
Featured in Martha Stewart Magazine, Down East Magazine, and Maine Home & Design, Swans Island Blanket Co. is more than a blanket company; it's a testament to the enduring tradition of craftsmanship and quality.
Founded on Swan's Island, Maine, in 1992, Swans Island Co. produces some of the most exquisite and sought-after blankets in the world, using sustainable practices that honor the original craft.
Listen in as Logan and Bill dig into the craft of weaving, dying, and sourcing quality, heirloom goods in a world of disposable products.
Check out the episode where you get quality podcasts and support our growing podcast by sharing, liking, and subscribing.
You can find Swans Island Co. blankets here:
Machine-generated Audio Transcript
Logan Rackliff (00:00):
Hello. Welcome to the Slow Goods Podcast. We love to talk quality and design, but most of all, we love to hear the inspiring stories of the masters of these spaces. Join me, your host, Logan Rackliff. As we talk about Maine adventure business, and we explore with these creators the different aspects of quality and design and everything around them together. I'm here today with Bill Laurita, the president of Swans Island Company. And Bill, would you mind sharing a couple of publications, like favorite ones, maybe you're most proud of that you've been in different types of pieces, maybe people have seen them.
Bill Laurita (00:35):
Sure. We've been fortunate over the years, so the company's been in existence since 1992, and I've been the president of the company since 2004. And I think because it's such a sort of a romantic concept of making blankets, and when we started on Swan's Island, it's, especially in the early days, we had a lot of publicity. So Martha Stewart did a whole piece on us both in her print publication as well as on her TV show, and that was fantastic. That's exciting. Yeah. Yeah. We were just talking before we started recording here about a more recent piece we had on W G B H, I believe the call numbers out of the Boston Public TV station. So they came and did a piece about five minutes on us. It was with other businesses, and that really initiated a response from people in the Boston area, so that was great. We've been in the New York Times, we've been in Coastal Living, we've been in really too many to mention local publications we've had mentioned before in the Washington Post. You were just talking about that. So yeah,
Logan Rackliff (01:59):
Lots of good things.
Bill Laurita (02:00):
Lots of good things. Yeah.
Logan Rackliff (02:02):
Yeah. You've been blessed and you guys make great stuff.
Bill Laurita (02:05):
Well, thank you. Thank you. We try to always keep our eyes on the main focus of why we're in business, which is to make these beautiful heirloom products that have real meaning for people. And part of the reason, the reason that they have real meaning is it's the story, and the story is based on what we actually do. It's not like a made up story. It's the story of how we source the fleece, spin, the yarn, dye, the yarn, weave the yarn, finish it up, package it beautifully design. All of that stuff is meaningful to people who want something in their life that's special. And that's, in a way, our blankets function very well. Sleeping under wool blanket really does improve your sleep. But in addition to that, having something that you can hand down actually that has meaning to you beyond just what you paid for it and how it functions. But the thing unto itself has meaning that's sort of implicit in it, and that's really what people love. I think about our product even more than the functionality of beautiful textile on your bed that keeps you warm.
Logan Rackliff (03:24):
Sure. So yeah, before we get more into that, I'd love to just hear about Bill and Bill's your story. When we had lunch, you told me a little bit about it, and I was fascinated. So I'd love to share whatever you feel comfortable with growing up or coming up through, and then eventually how you got to where you are now. I would love to hear, and I'm sure listeners would, yeah. Okay. Any inspiration? I love to hear people's stories. I love listening biographies, and there's always inspiration mixed in there.
Bill Laurita (03:56):
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, I'm one of six children. I grew up in upstate New York in a small town in the Adirondacks, and it was for my mom and dad. It was six kids in eight years. So it was a lot of kids, and we were all each other's playmates. And we had on the property some old barns, and those barns had been used for all sorts of different things, including square dances and hay storage, and also a workshop. And I used to go, and when my mom and dad bought that property, the people just sort of left. They didn't want any of that old stuff anymore. So the workshop still had a hand cranked lathe, I remember, and all these jigs from making rocking chairs and cool. I loved to play in there. And there was always something you could find in there that was like, what is this?
And so I always had an attraction to the material world, let's say how things are made. And I just love to make things. So I have spent time doing carpentry and furniture building. I was a blacksmith for a little while. Always interested in how do you make beautiful useful items when Swans Island came up as a possibility for us, it was, well, this really, I mean, I'm also fascinated in how the economy works and how businesses, particularly small businesses make it. Most businesses don't make it. You don't hear about those ones. You hear about maybe the few that are inspirational stories. So what is it? How do you run a business? How do you raise money? How do you work with employees? How do you finance the whole thing? Marketing and sales, all of that I find quite interesting. So how do you take this beautiful product that has integrity and get it out into the world in a way that works in the economy that we have, for better or worse, this is the economy we have.
And you can argue whether it's a good system not, but it is the system we have. So I really wanted to understand how that system worked. So putting my love of making things together with this keen interest in small business, that's really what inspires me with Swan's Island. And you've got to be, I often say running a small business is not for the faint of heart because you have to be nimble and flexible, and yet you have to maintain the integrity of what you're making. I mean, we have an unwritten contract with our customers, and that is that we will make this beautiful blanket and stand behind it. We also have a blanket hospital as well as an organic cleaning service. So we're always there for our customers. And we've always sort of implicitly said to them, we're never going to skimp on quality, never.
We have other products that we sell that are also great for what they are. And the same holds true for that, but particularly with our core product, our handwoven blankets, we are still making them the exact same way that we made them on Swans Island starting in 1992. So that will never change as long as I'm in charge. And we also have to charge what we charge for because it's an extraordinarily expensive way to make something, as is anything that's really worthwhile and going to last for generations. I agree. So, yeah. Wow. I think I wandered a bit from your original question. Yes.
Logan Rackliff (07:37):
Well, you also told me at lunch that you were in Waldorf Schools. I'd love to hear a little bit about that and blacksmithing or anything. I was just like, Ooh, I really love to hear about that.
Bill Laurita (07:48):
Sure. Well, so let's see where to start with that. Well, I've met my wife 45 years ago, and we have two children and three grandchildren. And in that course of time, I've been doing this with Swans Island for 20 years, but before that, I was a teacher, and that worked out really well having young children. And I taught both in a public school, and then I got really attracted to the Waldorf School system. What about
Logan Rackliff (08:28):
Bill Laurita (08:28):
Well, lots of things, but one thing that really stands out is it's an educational system that is really committed to process. So I think the through line through what I do now and what I did then, so for instance, you teach in units or blocks, they're called in a Waldorf school, and you start with a blank main lesson book it's called. So it's just a blank book with empty pages in it. When you're done with that block, that book is filled. But one of the things you're teaching is how do you build up a knowledge and skills, and how do you really come to understand something? Well, you've got to see how you make something that's all about art, really. And these books are incredibly beautiful to each student's ability. Of course, it's not an art school per se, but a lot is done through art because you're trying to teach children that they're the authors of their destiny. So you don't do that, in my opinion, by giving them a textbook. Someone else has already done the research and recapitulated this, and now you just learned
Logan Rackliff (09:45):
This stuff. Here's what I want you to memorize.
Bill Laurita (09:47):
Yeah. This is more like let's, I'm going to give you a lesson. We're going to, in the early grades, do a lot of drawing. So you come to understand through drawing through that process, we'll start our math lessons that way. We'll do our language arts lessons, we'll do our science. And that of course, changes from just going out and doing nature walks when they're very young to studying physics and chemistry and physiology and whatnot in the middle school. But all of it's done with that same idea where you start with a blank book and you create something and you go through a process. So that is very, in my experience with my own children, it's very empowering because it's like, okay, I can create this textbook, make this beautiful thing, come to really understand this particular subject at first with a lot of help from the teacher. But then as I get older into the middle school and these schools going into high school as well, more out of my own forces as I sort of come to know myself better and have more skills. So I think mean there's a lot to it, but that's the thing that really stands out in this context,
Logan Rackliff (11:05):
Was the blacksmithing before. I just think blacksmithing is super. So was that before Waldorf or
Bill Laurita (11:12):
After? No, in Waldorf schools, if you can, if you're able to, and you're a grade school teacher, which I was, you start a class in first grade and you go through them to eighth. So you can never rely on those musty, dusty, old notes. You always are creating something new each year. And as I said, it's not only is what you're teaching, but how you're approaching a children has to change. So part of what you're doing is modeling that. So I went through, excuse me. I picked up a class in middle school and taught that so that teacher wasn't able to continue. And then I started a first grade and went through eighth grade. And when I had graduated that class, I decided it was time to try something else. So the first thing I did was to apprentice myself with a local blacksmith where we were living in Charlottesville, Virginia.
And he was a master blacksmith, and he taught, again, it was this idea of taking something and taking a raw piece of metal and making something beautiful and useful out of it. And I did that for about a year. That didn't seem quite right for any number of reasons. One of them being that I'm really not, if you know blacksmiths, they're usually built quite a bit differently than I am. Let's put it that way. I'm sort of tall and lean and blacksmiths need to have more oomph behind them than what I've got. Yeah, exactly. So that was part of it. And anyway, it was a great thing to do and I've really enjoyed it, and I use that knowledge when I make things at home just for myself or someone else. What was it
Logan Rackliff (12:57):
Like a favorite thing you ever were able to make
Bill Laurita (13:00):
As a blacksmith? Yeah, I made this bench that was a lot of fun that had a sunburst in the middle of it. So that was one project that Steve, the owner, said, well, you can kind of do whatever you want to here. So it was fun figuring out the physics of how do you make a bench that's comfortable and sits flat? And then this design of having this starburst in the middle, which I think we did out of, or I did out of brass to the rest of it, was wrought out of iron and painted black. And then this starburst, or sunburst rather, was made out of bronze or brass, I can't remember now. So that was a lot of fun. And I actually have a little book of, I took images of the things I got to work on, and we did a lot of railings, a
Logan Rackliff (13:43):
Bill Laurita (13:44):
That was fun.
Logan Rackliff (13:46):
So from the blacksmith thing up to becoming the president of Swans Island, what's in between?
Bill Laurita (13:53):
Well, I did some carpentry then, and my wife and I were trying to sort figure out, we were living in Charlottesville. It's where we'd raised our children, where we had both been involved in the Waldorf School, and we had been coming up to Maine for a long time because I had a brother who moved up here first, actually before that, my mom went to summer camp in Maine when she was a youngster. And that always stuck with her. She just loved Maine and would always talk about it. This is, I think, is the, it's a common theme. A common theme, yes. So my brother apprenticed after vet school, apprenticed, and then became a vet in Camden, Maine. And so we started coming up and visiting him. My parents ended up sort of semi-retirement up there. Then I had actually four of my five siblings move up.
And then we finally came up in 2004 to buy this business along with my brother and some other, and my wife also moved up here because there was a Waldorf school. It still is in Rockport, and she became the director of that school and stayed in that position for 17 years. So it just sort of worked out. And we liked the idea of being around my parents as they were getting older and siblings and Maine, of course, is a beautiful place, and if you can get work up here. So that was sort of a requirement. We weren't going to just move up, figure out what the heck to do. So buying this business and apprenticing on Swans Island and on the weekends renovating the space in Northport on the coast that we currently inhabit, we did not want to live on Swans Island. It's beautiful, but really hard to get to. Yes, it's really up there. And obviously it's an island. You have to take a ferry to it. So that was part of the deal was that we bought the business and learned how to do the dying in the weaving and how to sell them. And
Logan Rackliff (15:49):
So you guys bought the building that is in Northport? Yes. And you? Yes. Okay. Yes. Yeah. Just from anybody who's seen it. Yeah, it's a gorgeous building. I was just curious on the transition. I actually have my grandfather on my dad's side, the Radcliff's, we would have, he'd always have a family reunion out, lobster and clam, all the main stuff. And I think a decent amount of them came from Swan's Island. I have never got into those roots a lot, but I would like to someday.
Bill Laurita (16:22):
Oh, interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Well, there were quarries on Swans Island. Yes. Quarries everywhere. Yeah, quarries everywhere. Yeah. But that's also no longer quarries, I don't believe active. But then people moved
Logan Rackliff (16:34):
Into Think there's lobster. Think there's one in the state. Yeah, I think Stonington is going again. Oh, interesting. The end of it, or don't quote me on that, but there's not many actual granite quarries. There's Dragon cement with, they get the lime and other things there. But yeah. So now we're up to Swans Island. So what are the roots of Swans Island and yeah, how did it become, and then how did you guys hear about it and take it over? And I'd love to hear about Swans Island. Sure.
Bill Laurita (17:06):
Swans Island Company, which was called, at that time it was called the Atlantic Blanket Company, makers of Swan's Island Blankets. That was a mouthful, but that was because the founders, John and Caroline Grace could not agree on a name, so I can't remember who wanted which. But they both, one wanted the Atlantic Blanket Company and one wanted Swans Island blankets. They lived in Brookline, but they had a summer place on Swans Island, and they wanted to move there. And it was like, what are we going to do there? They were sort of semi-retired lawyers,
And they didn't need to make a lot of money also just because of who they are, but also because they'd been attorneys. So they came up with this name, which is a bit of a mouthful. So John, who's a real flinty old New Englander, and doesn't look any older now than he did when I met him 20 years ago. Wow, great guy. He and Caroline, well, John had these blankets in the family, so he is been in New England forever, the Boston area, and they were great blankets, and he sort of said one day, wonder who's making these still? And turned out no one was, from what he could tell, sort of this particular style. And so he went to RISD and sat in on some classes and learned how to do some basic weaving and purchased one of the looms that we still have and put it in their dining room in Brookline to see if they could make a blanket.
And started doing that. And their whole focus was on the quality. It was not really a business in, you hear these days of a traditional path for a company it to start would be to identify a need and to raise capital and to come up with a business plan. They didn't do any of those things. They just said, we want to make the best blanket we can, and we'll charge what we have to charge for it, and we're going to make it on Swans Island. I love it. So they moved to Swans Island. They moved the loom up there, and they hired some local folks and they started making blankets. And I think I mentioned earlier, Martha Stewart, who is a citizen up in that area, heard about it and was entranced by this whole idea, which is very romantic, making blankets on an island off the coast of Maine.
So that really helped grow the company. And for years after, anytime that ran, we'd get a spike in sales and people would come in and say, didn't I see you and Martha Stewart and so on, which also, I'll go back to an earlier question. We have been very fortunate in that we have made either a blanket or a throw or something for every administration since the second Bush administration. And we got a lot of play. When the Obamas first came into the White House, they got in touch through, not directly with us, but through the person in charge of protocol gifts and saw our product and said, this would be perfect for, we have the Prime Minister of Great Britain visiting, and his wife, Debbie Cameron at the time, his wife was pregnant, so let's get them a baby blanket and embroider it. And we got a lot of press around that. So that was, go back to your early question about some press. I really remember that really made everyone feel quite good, and it was exciting. And before then, the Bushes had bought. And so everyone since then has used it as a protocol gift to give to visiting dignitaries.
Logan Rackliff (21:04):
Bill Laurita (21:04):
Cool. So most recently, Jill Biden and Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, both bought, I think it was five throws each hand embroidered from Jill Biden or from Anthony Blinken, or, I can't remember exactly what the words were, but something like that.
Logan Rackliff (21:22):
Oh, that's exciting.
Bill Laurita (21:22):
Yeah. So that was really great. I've meandered a bit though, because your question was,
Logan Rackliff (21:28):
Yeah, so you on the island, the original founders, they're on the island, they just started making these, I think,
Bill Laurita (21:34):
Basically. Yeah, exactly. They started making these blankets. They weren't using any dyed yarn at the time. Then they started to feel like, well, we need to had a little color
Logan Rackliff (21:42):
To this. Where's the material coming from? Is it actually sheep around Maine, or is it wool? Is
Bill Laurita (21:49):
It, yeah, so our main thing is sheep's wool, and we could have a whole podcast just on that subject, but I won't bore you with the details there. I would
Logan Rackliff (21:59):
Love it. But yeah,
Bill Laurita (22:01):
So we continue to use, there's two families, one in Ohio, one in Pennsylvania, and their names are the Riker and the Ruperts just sort of iteratively have a similarity there. And they raise award-winning rydale sheep. It's a particular breed that happens to be very, very well suited for our summer weight blankets. So they were sourcing from there. And so
Logan Rackliff (22:27):
That's where they originally started sourcing from too. And
Bill Laurita (22:29):
That's where we continue to. Wow, cool. And they started to use a mill here in Maine in Springvale, Maine called Jagger Brothers, which has been in the Jagger family since the 1880s. And so that's where we got and continue to get our warp yarn. And we had, so warp is the vertical threads. That's how you set your loom up. And that has always come from Jagger Brothers Mill. And we, what you fill, the horizontal axis comes from Green Mountain spiny for those particular blankets. So that continues. Those relationships are both over 30 years old, and those are one in Vermont and one in Maine. So
Logan Rackliff (23:13):
They weren't dying yet.
Bill Laurita (23:15):
They weren't dying yet, but then they sort of guess you could say they got a little bored of just having, because the colors really then are kind of off white, most sheep. And then there's the black sheep of the family produces a brown or dark brown fleece or a light brown fleece, and that's called sort of moot that color. So then you can take that and you can spin that up, and you can make a brown blanket. You can make a white blanket, or you can mix the two and make a gray. So they only had white, let's call it gray and brown. So it just got a little boring, I think. And so then they said, well, we should add some color. Let's learn how to dye with natural plant eyes. And so that was Caroline's piece. She learned how to do that dyeing.
And John was more on the weaving end of things. And so I started making a couple of different colors using indigo, which is from the indigo plant and Koil, which is a little bugs. Shell kind of a cousin of the ladybug, if you can imagine that, that produces a red matter root that produces an orange. These are dyes that have been used forever. If you go into a museum and look at their textile collection, every single color in the world that was created before the 1850s, that's when they first started to synthetically create indigo actually was the first color every single color before that. So for all of humanity was made in the way that we made our colors then, which is with a natural substance and a morant, which has to have a little metal in it that will allow, so that's something you soak the yarn in, and then you're able to dye it and the diet goes into the wool yarn instead of staying on the surface then. So that's what we started with, and we continue to do that as well, as well as other things. But that's the basic what in the business world, we call the bullseye of what we do. Right. That's the same for the last 32 years.
Logan Rackliff (25:17):
So they expanded it to some color. So if they started in 92, maybe we're in the mid nineties now or something. Exactly. Okay. Exactly.
Bill Laurita (25:25):
Then what happened was that they had some illness that prevented them from continuing. And so they reached out actually to my brother Tom, who knew them, who had gone to the island and bought some blankets and kind of befriended them. And Tom got in touch with us and we started to think about it. We had at that point, had both finished with the Wal School, and my wife was working for the University of Virginia, and I was doing blacksmithing and carpentry and that sort of thing. And so it was like, Hmm, well, let's check this out. And we went up a couple of times and decided that this was a good thing to do. And at first, before my wife was directing the Wal School in Rockport, she was our dire and our bookkeeper, and I was doing the weaving and selling and things like that. So we apprenticed with them for about six months. In the meantime, we were renovating this 200 year old farmhouse as a apartment for ourselves, upstairs and downstairs, a showroom. And then we added on a weaving studio and finishing room. So the place we do the stitching, and we had a little dye house on what had been a porch, and that was 2004. And I remember that, well, we moved those looms. We would take 'em up all apart,
Take 'em over on the ferry, put 'em in trucks, and take them down to Northport and set the whole thing up. And that was a lot.
Logan Rackliff (27:03):
Are these big metal contraptions or wooden or how
Bill Laurita (27:07):
Yeah. Well, they're mostly wood actually. So they're made by a company called a v l. They're out of Chico, California. And they were, excuse me, developed by three engineers, what I understand their story to be, whose spouses were all hand weavers. And they could see that hand weaving traditionally leads to a lot of repetitive stress injuries if you do it a lot. So they said, well, how could we develop a loom that you could do production hand weaving on? And so they created these looms that have certain features. It's still hand weaving. It's one person on one loom sending the shuttle across one at a time.
But there are some features that, for instance, the beater bar, the thing that you kind of beat the wet yarn with is on ball bearings. So it runs very easily. And instead of throwing by hand a shuttle across, which you can't do on a wide loom of course, unless you're about seven and a half feet tall or something, you have a way to, with a piston and a stick, you have a way to sort of hit a button and it shoots it across and you watch it go across and you beat it if it's all is well, and then you do it again. So there are other features that allow you to do production, hand weaving and not have injuries. And we've been pretty fortunate to have a fairly injury-free workforce over the years. Right.
Logan Rackliff (28:44):
Yeah. So you moved to Northport, you get everything over there. How many, is it just you and your wife at this point, or
Bill Laurita (28:50):
No, we've always had employees. We started out with probably four employees at that point.
Logan Rackliff (28:59):
Did they have to move off the island too?
Bill Laurita (29:01):
Well, we offered to actually have them move with us, but the people who were working there then didn't, didn't want to leave the
Logan Rackliff (29:11):
Island. I wouldn't be surprised.
Bill Laurita (29:13):
So I taught them. My wife did the dying, Jody and I did the weaving and taught our employees how to weave. And then we had the stitchers, we hired stitchers, and the stitching is pretty straightforward. And we still have one of those stitchers who works with us, actually, who was maybe the fifth employee. So yeah.
Logan Rackliff (29:37):
That's cool. So yeah, you've got into it a few times. That was 2004, I guess. Where are you? How many people do you have today on your team? Yeah,
Bill Laurita (29:50):
We have between 20 and 25 employees now. And obviously production workers, weavers, dyers, hand finishers, the people who actually take the raw blanket make into a finished product. Salespeople, we have someone who runs our website, so webmaster, we have a photographer. These are not full-time employees, of course, but they're longtime employees. So our photographer, for instance, has been with us for nine or 10 years. He's also a part-time blueberry farmer. Cool. So that gives you a little picture that's very Maine of how you work it in Maine. And then someone who does our online marketing and like that. So it's a broad pool. And then our salespeople very often are also weavers, so our shipper can weave and can also do dying and does some of the design work for us, just as an example. So that kind of cross training is really important in a small business.
It is where you're making stuff, got to just sort of go to where the need is. And a lot of it is, and I really credit, I mean, I have two business partners. One is Justin Maser, who is our C F O and does a lot in operations, and he is really fantastic with anything, which is definitely not my cup of tea. So I really appreciate the difference point of view that he brings. And then my other partner is Michelle Orn, and she is fantastic in the design realm and both in products, and we do a lot of that together. But she's a fantastic designer, but even more so the look of the website and the photography, which is
Logan Rackliff (31:47):
Bill Laurita (31:47):
Yes. Well, thank you. When you have, our main way of selling is through our website. So we have two stores, but our website is super important to us, and you have to have great imagery when you sell products, particularly at the higher end. And you're trying to convey a sense for how they feel, the whole gestalt of it, not just that, again, that it's a blanket that's these dimensions or something
Logan Rackliff (32:16):
Like the nostalgia.
Bill Laurita (32:18):
You got to have a beautiful photograph image. And so she works with our long-term photographer, Doug Mot, who's fantastic, and they are, it's wonderful to watch them work together. Actually a whole, when you do a photo shoot, it's like doing a small movie. It's not moving images necessarily, but it's a production. And you've bring in stylists and models. If we're using models, that's a lot. It really is a lot. You're well aware, I'm sure.
Logan Rackliff (32:45):
But it's really cool to watch them. I love my wife's our stylist, and then we get one of these talented photographers, and basically I get, I'm a big idea guy, you, it's like, okay, we need to, and I don't have a checklist necessarily. I do make one. I should use it more, but it's more just get to them to this spot and then let those two do their thing, get the best thing out of this area, but we need to make sure we get this. But no, it is quite something. Yeah,
Bill Laurita (33:19):
My management style is very much like that. I am not a micromanager, so my belief is to get good people in, make sure they have the whatever tools they might need or understanding and let them do their thing. So that's not everyone's way. I do recognize that. Right.
Logan Rackliff (33:36):
Are all your makers still right there in Northport?
Bill Laurita (33:39):
Logan Rackliff (33:40):
Okay. Wow. Right.
Bill Laurita (33:42):
Well, we need to have that control now. We do, for instance, we make a line of products where we do the dyeing and we send it to a mill in Maine and they do the weaving and they have industrial looms, so they're able to do it, send that weft across way quicker than we can. And so that's a very different product. It's not as fine or supple or subtle, let's call it design-wise. They're beautiful though. They're sort of thicker chunkier, and they're finished very differently. But we're able to get a less expensive price on that. And it's a different product, but has a lot of integrity for what it is. So we've tried to it expand in that way. So some products we have, we do a piece of it like that. We also now sell linen, so linen bedding, so sheets and pillowcases and duvets and duvet covers and that sort of thing. And that's French linen that's made in the us. So we have that element of control and that element of onshoring in that way, but we don't do any of the making on that. But that's a really nice compliment to our blankets and our customers have really appreciated our bringing those on. Yeah.
Logan Rackliff (35:10):
Yeah. You're just seeking out quality and listening, and we need to do more of that ourselves. So I can ask you whenever we get there to how you go about that. But yeah, tell us a little more, the blankets. I think you've walked us through a little bit a couple times, but the blanket journey starting just making the blanket. Just give us a good visual of that best you can. Sure.
Bill Laurita (35:37):
So we start, as I said, with sourcing the fleece from one of our two farms that we use for, I'll just talk about this summer weight blanket or lightweight blanket. We send that to the Green Mountain spiny. They spin what's called a woolen spun yarn. So there's different ways to spin fleece into yarn. And the woolen spun is it has the hair sort of stick up in a woolen, spun a little bit, if you can imagine. So if you would look under a microscope at wool yarn, you'd see all sorts of hair. Sometimes they're running all parallel. That's called a wared spun. And sometimes they're more going every which way. That's called a woolen spun. And the woolen spun has got a more of a rustic quality to it, but also those hairs wick moisture away from your body. So they're like little wicking agents.
That's why if you sleep under wool blanket, you don't feel damp when you wake up in the morning as opposed to, let's say a down comforter that is warm and cozy. But I think the experience is that you feel a little musty when you wake up. Can't breathe. Yeah, it doesn't breathe. Yeah. So the duvets we sell, for instance, just as an aside, are wool batting. I see. Yeah. But the blanket, to go back to that is spun a green mountain, this organic spin. So they wash out, they use organic soap to wash out much of the landline, but leave a little bit in they then what is landline? Oh, good question. I shouldn't assume. Everyone knows landline is natural grease that sheep produce, and it is why you can wear wolves a great thing to wear in a rainstorm because it repels moisture. It also breeds. I see. So the lanolin is if you just touch a fleece, a sheep, it's almost like a therapy for your hands. And lots of ointments and creams have Lenin in them because it has a restorative power for human skin, but it's too greasy to take that fleece and spin it as is. It's also dirty because sheep, let's face it, they're animals, so they're not neat animals. So they get lots of things in their fleece. Some of the fleece that we purchased, the sheep wear little jackets actually to keep some of that chaff out.
But it goes, yeah. So Green Mountain spins it up and scours it organically and spins it on these old spinning machines, let's call 'em that, allow the yarn to be a little thick, a little thin. So it looks almost like hand spun yarn. And that just gives it not only a nice look and a more authentic feel, but it's actually, you can spin yarn very thinly that way. And only a hand loom is going to take that beautiful thin yarn and send it across because an industrial loom cannot do something that with a yarn that's that delicate. It'll break. It'll break. Yeah. So it's our blankets consequently have this beautiful hand or drape to them. So they just flow really nicely. Thicker blankets are made very differently. And if you think of an army surplus blanket as an extreme, they're packed so tightly that they are, they don't have a nice hand to them.
And usually they're made with fleece that is very coarse. So our fleece is fine that we send to get spun. So it comes to us, and then, as I said, either if it's going to be just a white blanket, but very few of our products are just have completely no dyed yarn in them. So some of it's going to get dyed and we dye that in this natural dye process for those products, and then it just dries, air dries, and then it gets put onto a shuttle. So all of the yarn that's going to go across has to be wound onto a bobbin. Bobbin goes in a shuttle, shuttle, goes into the loom shuttle, goes across and feeds out the yarn as it's crossing over the warp yarn. If you can picture that, the warp yarn is the vertical. The warp yarn is the vertical. Correct. Shoot it across. And now if you can imagine, most people when they were younger had potholder kits. So you had a frame, that's your loom. You stretched some of that cotton, those cotton pieces vertically across. That's your warp. You took pieces like that and you went over and under and over and under, and you then sort of pushed it down. That's your weft, and you're beating that weft to sort of pack it in a little bit and you do it again. Well, these machines do the exact same thing only more efficiently.
And then we go over under instead of over under, like you did with your potholder, let's say. And that creates, so the structure, that's the structure how we have a number of harnesses that some warp yarn goes up, some stays down, and then you shoot it across. So how many go up and how many stay down? That's your structure. So there's lots of different structures you can do, and there are people who go to school just to understand all the different structures and all the different materials you can use for warp and weft. So it's quite complicated. Of course, I actually wrote a journal piece on this. I entitled it. It's hard to do simple. So if you talk, I would imagine to an apple farmer or orchardist who raises organic apples, they would tell you the same thing. It's very hard to do this simple thing, which is just like let apples grow. Right? You think it's so simple? Well, it's not. In our society, it's very hard to do simple. It
Logan Rackliff (41:52):
Takes effort for sure.
Bill Laurita (41:53):
You've got to go across the grain and there's more
Logan Rackliff (41:55):
Than one aspect.
Bill Laurita (41:58):
And then you have to find products, in our case that are organic or that are natural. You've got to go against the grain because we're not making the cheapest possible product. And let's face it, most people are looking to buy a commodity. They want to just get something inexpensive. If you want to do simple, you got to be really committed. I don't mean that in the pejorative sense as in committing you to an institution or anything, but I mean, you have to be committed to that act, and that has a lot of roadblocks that get put up. So you've got to just work through those and love what you do. Ultimately, it comes down to loving it because man, you've got to get up every morning, go into work. And part of my job is to motivate everyone at the company and help them see why are we doing this? What's the vision? We've been doing it now for, the company's been in existence for over 30 years. We've been doing this in Northport for 20 years. Why are we doing this? And people, it's easy to lose your way. So you need someone, I believe, that is holding that vision and carrying it through, why are we doing this thing over here? I thought we were doing this thing. Well, here's how it's related and here how it helps our mission to go forward.
Logan Rackliff (43:21):
So why are you doing it?
Bill Laurita (43:24):
We're doing it because we, I'll just speak for myself. Yeah. I want to create beautiful things in the world that have a functional purpose, but also are going to be here long after I'm gone and are going to allow whoever comes into contact with that, a feeling that there's something here that's going to outlive me. And that's in a certain sense, the process of making that product. In our case, blankets is inside that blanket. So you're helping that process to continue. What we're doing is an ancient craft. I mean, for as long as there've been people who have settled in communities, someone's been weaving in Maine, in 1840, half the households owned a loom. Wow. So in a place like Maine, it's always been a part of who we are. Er so in the native peoples who lived here before the Europeans, they also had to weave. They probably used a backstrap loom, which was just providing tension by tying your warp to a tree and around your back.
And so obviously there are native folks who could speak more informed than I can about that. But my point is that that's why, that's what gets me up in the morning. Simply put, I'm making a beautiful thing that people love, and we have a very tight relationship with many of our customers. I mean, they've, not once, but more than once, our blanket has been used as a funeral shroud for people because they want to send, either the person who's deceased expressed an interest or their loved ones said, this is how they'd want to go out wrapped in a swans island blanket, innumerable wedding gifts. We do han embroidery baby blankets to mark that time and be in that household forever. So that's an awesome responsibility and also something I find inspiring.
Logan Rackliff (45:37):
Yeah, I agree. The whole time you've been talking, I spent the founders, you, your team. I've just been in here passion. You couldn't do that if you weren't dedicated and passionate about what you're doing. Exactly. And then the other thing, just as you're explaining that, which is very inspiring, I just have this, maybe it's a tagline, I don't know, but the story lives on the story of making this and this craft is living through the blankets as they get passed down and everything else. It's all like this.
Bill Laurita (46:08):
I would imagine it's how furniture builders feel too. The idea that this chair, not only is the current owner going to sit in it, but their grandchildren. And we actually have a little card that we include. We make a linen bag with aromatic cedar planks built into it for moth protection for our wall blankets. And there's a little pocket, and in that pocket it's a little card, and there's a place for who bought it and then who it's getting handed down to. And of course, you think of the word heirloom. It's something made on a loom for your heirs, and that's definitely a good description of what we're doing. Yes.
Logan Rackliff (46:48):
Yeah. No, that's great. I had about materials. You've gone over 'em quite a bit. Is there anything else you want to mention on materials that, the materials you use, anything to learn any other wool is your main, and you've explained that. Are there other materials that you might want to mention or?
Bill Laurita (47:10):
Well, we're looking at building some products out of alpaca right now, which is another animal fiber. So not far from what we're doing. We've had some yarns before that had some alpaca in them. So we're looking at that We really understand best. We've also worked with us grown organic cotton. We actually do some blankets for the hospitality industry, and that is much better done out of cotton than out of wool because a hotel needs to be able to launder and it doesn't really want to dry, clean or send their product back to us. For instance, for cleaning. Wool doesn't need to get washed that often because it does repel grease and dirt. But of course, everything, every textile at some point needs to get washed. So we do work with that sort of cotton, high quality cotton. We recently designed and had, we don't have knitting looms, but we work with some US producers who do have knitting looms. And we recently made a few products that had a recycled plastic yarn in them as well as cotton. But it really, so the good thing about that is you're keeping some plastic out of the landfill.
The other part of that equation is you're weaving with plastic, so we're actually knit. So I don't know what to think about that. It's one of those things where you've got to scale. Is that better?
Logan Rackliff (48:54):
Well, I think that, I mean, me personally, if you think it's a quality product and it's got some use and what we're talking about, a lot of this is if we're authentic and just tell people exactly what it is, they can make their own decision, right? It's just, Hey, if you love this blanket, this is what it's made out of. And I guess you decide, right? Yeah. The people will tell you if they buy
Bill Laurita (49:17):
It or not. Well, that is true, but I also have to be able to feel like we can stand behind it.
Logan Rackliff (49:23):
Bill Laurita (49:23):
Sure. For me, I think it's ultimately a good thing because we as a society have to deal with all of the waste that we create. And the textile industry is terrible about the waste it creates. At Swans Island, we compost cutoffs like yarns at the end of a run that what are we going to do with 'em? They're too short to do anything with. So we send that to local place to compost. We obviously recycle all of our cardboard and so on, but we have almost no waste. So we will take cutoffs and stitch them together to make new products and then sort of show the stitching on the back, much like a dovetail joint on a drawer is kind of cool. You see? Oh, look how it's joined. That's neat. We like to also show, and these particular products, this upcycled thing, and we do a lot of upcycling actually, because it's like we have these things and we're creative and what can we do with these?
And then let's tell the story and make sure they hold together really well. In this case, like three or four strips of cloth you're taking and stitching it together to make a throw blanket, let's say. So it has to function well. It has to hold together well. And then it's like, okay, this is a good product and it has this story behind it, and the design is really different piecing together, different colors and so on. So yeah. So anyway, that's the kind of thing that is to go back to the recycled plastic yarn. Is that a way we want to evolve? I mean, never 20 years ago, no way. Now things are different. It's like we're deep into this sort of environmental crisis we all find ourselves in, and all I can do is my little piece really, I compost at home, I recycle. It's like those things are important to me to do. And at work, it's the same thing. It's like, what action am I going to take? I'm going to contribute. I hope to make things better, not add to the problem that we have. So I think that fits into that category. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway,
Logan Rackliff (51:47):
I agree. Yeah, no, before we get off the blanket won't mean solve. We'll, never totally get off the blankets. We're talking about Swans Island, but nothing we want to I love them.
Bill Laurita (51:59):
Logan Rackliff (52:00):
I have you here. If I did not, oh, I don't think we were going through the loom, but I just thought, how do you finish the blanket? So you've got it all. I was just thinking how do we tie in the blanket? How do we finish it and put your logo's beautiful how you put it in there. Yeah.
Bill Laurita (52:19):
Well, the logo on the blanket we're talking about is actually woven right into it. So one of the reasons we do that is because it's a seal of authenticity. Only a hand loom can put what's called a over weave in there. So that is, and it also, it's become kind of our trademark, those foursquares and the rectangle. But what happens is once we might weave maybe three to five units on the loom, and every blanket begins and ends with silk that we weave in. So silk is extraordinarily strong. It's a good way to bind that blanket off. And the edges, one of the things you get also with a handwoven product is the edges are called the salvage edge. So it's a very elegant way to end that edge of the blanket. And other products have to be stitched over, and it's just not as elegant and refined a way to
Logan Rackliff (53:20):
Finish the product. So they're not like, I don't know all the terms. They're not just like, how do you it? I just see you keep putting this material in. Does the end fold it over and sewed
Bill Laurita (53:31):
Or is it Yeah, exactly. So you weave in silk and then it gets cut off and you then stitch that silk over and that's a binding. And the edges are very strong because of the way we do a slightly different weave on the very edges. So we never get a product back that's ripped, for instance, even though it's a very fine yarn. That's
Logan Rackliff (53:52):
Bill Laurita (53:53):
So yeah, then it goes upstairs and they do the picking I described earlier. If there's chaff in that product that needs to be handpicked out, that can take anywhere from an hour to three hours, just that process actually, believe it or not. So we always try to have as clean a fleece as possible, because that's a very laborious task.
Logan Rackliff (54:13):
Chaff is hay, or who knows what sticks
Bill Laurita (54:17):
Exactly. All the stuff that animals get into. Okay. So then the way we wash those products is we soak them in a upright washing machine, a top loader, and spin them out. So we soak them in an organic soap and spin them out, and you can't agitate wool. It'll become felt. Wow. Yeah. So you don't want, I mean, we sometimes play around with that with different products, but for our blankets, we want the weave that we do to be what the customer experiences. So it's called an open weave. What we do, so if you look at upholstery fabric, for instance, that's all closed up. If you held it up to light to the window, for instance, you really can't see light to it or not much. You hold our blanket up to a window and you're going to see light come through it because it's an open weave that allows for the best hand.
So the most elegant drape, it just feels great to hold our product in your hand for that reason. I agree. And just if you're making the bed, which happens to be one of my tasks at home every morning, and you sort of ripple that blanket across to make your bed and you see it just sort of floats in the air a little bit, like wings almost. And then when you sleep under it, it's very light, and you'd think that can't be warm, but it actually is incredibly warm because of that. It's breathable. And it also wicks this moisture way in the wicking process. So wicking is when it just sort of takes that you're sweating at night or you're expiring, not expiring. I hope you're sweating a little bit. And this will be absorbed into the wool in that absorption process. A little bit of heat is created. So that's kind of the secret of why wool is so comfortable to sleep under, because you can have a very lightweight blanket and still be warm. And in Maine, let's face it, especially this summer, you need some warmth on there. Our nights are cool, even in the summer and in the winter, we have the heavier or winter weight blanket we call it, and that is a heavier product, but also light for what it is.
So they're doing going back to finishing. So they're stitching over, they're picking out chaff if they need to. They're washing, so they just do the soak and then spin out. And then there used to be something people had in the family that they would store away called lace curtain stretchers. When people had lace curtains, they needed a way to wash them. And they put these large frames out in the yard and wash them once a year, and then they'd block them out. And these lace curtain stretchers are just like carpet tags in a way. They're like pieces of wood with little nails sticking up. So we use that to block out our blankets. And so every blanket air dries up in our finishing room, and then it gets pressed and the bag is made to put them in. Any imperfections are found. If there are some, and they're remedied, and then it's ready to sell.
Logan Rackliff (57:39):
Wow, that's a lot.
Bill Laurita (57:41):
Logan Rackliff (57:41):
Is it. That's a quality product. Yeah. Got to have that passion and yes. No, that's so beautiful to hear. So take me through, I was looking at your journal a little bit, or journal is great. Thank you. Anybody who wants to know about Bain or Swans Island or just everything we're talking about, the journal is really is well done. One of the prompts on there was keeping it simple. You talked about how it's hard to keep things simple. Just real quick in that article, what stood out to you? I enjoyed it.
Bill Laurita (58:16):
Thank you. Yeah, just also to give a shout out to my business partner, Michelle and someone else who works with us, Amy files. So when we started doing that journal, I've written them and then it's like, well, I guess that's all done. But the level that they take that to, they do some editing of my writing, which is fine, but also how well that's put together, that's Michelle and Amy. Yeah. That doesn't
Logan Rackliff (58:44):
Bill Laurita (58:44):
It doesn't just happen. And for me it's like, yeah, the detail of that I'm not well suited to, but they really are. And boy, they dig in and in the end it took a long time to get that journal together, but in the end, wow, I'm so impressed still. So I think it's just that commitment. It's so easy to cut a corner. It's so easy to, especially over years, to say, is it that important to make this blanket this way? We do it this other way. We do something else with it. And so it's not only hard for the reasons I said to do simple, it's also hard within oneself to maintain a long-term commitment to something through the vicissitudes of the ups and downs of the business cycle, employees coming and going and people having very different opinions than what you might, I don't own the company a hundred percent. So we have a board. And so they have input on it. So it's also hard to just in yourself to maintain that commitment and not say, well, sure, why don't we just do it that way now?
Logan Rackliff (01:00:07):
Right. Nobody will ever know or
Bill Laurita (01:00:08):
Whatever. It's exactly. Without being rigid, I certainly don't want to be the old man there saying, no, no, no, we can't do it that way. So it's finding how you evolve while maintaining your integrity. That's the trick. And I'm much more interested in that than making a gazillion dollars.
Logan Rackliff (01:00:35):
I love it. Another thing that stood out to me, handmade for life, I guess maybe you're just talking about that, but that was another journal article that I thought was neat.
Bill Laurita (01:00:47):
Yeah, well, we do look at these. I mean, sometimes I think, I wish we made something expendable so people would have to buy it again and again. And actually, I have to say that we went into making knitwear apparel with the idea that, okay, people like new colors and new styles, and this is something that we might get repeat customers on. And we do have lots of repeat customers because they have more than one bed, for instance, for a blanket. Or they might have more than one home, or they move or they give a gift, but it's not a wearable is something that you may well want
Logan Rackliff (01:01:31):
To, it's not like a candle. It's not burning down. And then you got to buy a new one too, right? Yeah. It's lasting a long time.
Bill Laurita (01:01:37):
But we want our core product to be something that, again, it's not inexpensive, but what you do get is something that we believe will last generations and generations. And because we can, when you get something that's mass produced, it's in the general, it is what it is in the specific, it might not be that great because no one's paying attention to each unit, let's call it. Right? We're paying attention to each and every unit. So it's almost like each blanket is its own thing, as opposed to a thousand units of something is a lot of shirts, let's call it those shirts, maybe comes in a box of a thousand of them. Well, each one can't be perfect in its way I mean, it might be some of them. Some of them might have some problems. Who knows? Ours is like one lot equals one blanket, and that's going to be perfect as we define. Perfect. So then early on we realized that well, something might happen, let's say your dog bites your blanket or let's say mods put holes in it. Or let's say you don't want to use a dry cleaner because you don't want those chemicals applied. Well, what are we going to do about that? Well, so we started an organic cleaning service and what we call blanket hospital. So I love
Logan Rackliff (01:03:10):
Bill Laurita (01:03:11):
Yeah. We've become very skilled at repairing things and we'll get back blankets that were made 30 years ago and it has a moth damage in it, let's say, or something did happen to it from an animal or whatnot. So yeah, so we're able to be there and feel like we'll be long after I'm gone, hopefully still in business and still repairing blankets that were made 30, 50, 70 years prior so that you can feel, and sometimes I remember this happened recently, actually. We had someone who had, I think it was animal problem, cat, dog, something like that. And we had to patch it. Usually we can sort of weave it back by hand, but it was too big hole. So we got in touch with 'em, said, well, the only way you can really fix this is to patch it. And they said, great. That just adds to the story. That's the time that whatever happened. And then Swans Island repaired it, and now that's a marker for us. So cool.
Logan Rackliff (01:04:20):
Yeah. So not only do you hand make them and their quality, but you also provide services that can extend, keep the life going.
Bill Laurita (01:04:27):
Logan Rackliff (01:04:29):
Now, I did want to talk about what was voted Maine's most iconic photo that seems to be so in sync with Swan's Island. So guess we could talk about the photo a little bit, and then I'm curious how that ended up being a part of what you do too. I mean, I see the very practical, but how that Yeah.
Bill Laurita (01:04:56):
Well, Peter Ralston's photo is, well, first of all, Peter's a friend and a great guy and quite the raconteur, so you wouldn't get him out of here less than five hours. I think he's got so many great stories, and he's such a really an amazing person and a great artist. So he was a good friend of my brother, and then I got to know him. And So this came after you bought the business? Yes, exactly. So we just asked him when we were actually, we were designing, I think this is when it happened, the box that our handwoven throws come in, which is a linen covered box that a company in Massachusetts makes for us. And it has a hinge top, and on the inside of that top is Peter's image. And so when we were designing that box, we of course knew that image and knew Peter, and it was like, oh Peter, how would you feel if we used your photo for attribution?
And he said, yes. And we said, what can we give you in exchange? And he said, how about a winter blanket? We said, great. Five or eight years later, he finally came in for that winter blanket. But yeah, so we've used that ever since. And we send people to, he has a beautiful store in Rockport Village, and he sold that image and many other images, but he has, yeah, I think he's really known for that. But there's so many things that he does do. But that one is the, so Peter grew up in Chad's Ford, right next door to the Wyeths, and he's the same age as the offspring of Andrew and Betsy Wyeth, Jamie and I can't think of the other, I can't remember either. I know Jamie. And so that photo is, so Betsy Wyeth and Andrew Wyeth own, I think they still do Allen Island.
Yes, they do. And so Betsy liked to have sheep on that island, and she are great on an island. They keep the underbrush down and there were a lot of sheep, right? There's a lot of islands out here, sheep island, Ram Island and so on. And so it was a great place to raise sheep, but they were being, Peter obviously knows the story much better than I do, but I believe they were being either taken two or from that island to be shorn. Actually, I think in the picture they're shorn. So I guess they were going back to the island and Peter was following in a boat and snapped that picture. And we actually had, there's a little girl on the boat and she came into the shop the other day, maybe last year, and said, that's me in that picture, we have a big blown up one in the Camden store, and now she's an adult.
And so there's something about the way the boat is a little precarious being taken, towed by that lobster boat. And the sheep are all sort of sheep don't like to be contained like that, I don't think. And they're not naturally meant to be on water. So there's something about that. That to me anyway, speaks about the, it's tough to live in Maine in a way, right? We're right close. That's what I love about it. It's like it's very elemental here. You've got granite here and salt and the weather can be challenging for some people. You've got mountains to climb, ski slopes to be on lots of things to
Logan Rackliff (01:08:37):
Ledges the dodge.
Bill Laurita (01:08:39):
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Rough roads. And that's kind of what Maine is about to me anyway. And I think that's embedded in that picture.
Logan Rackliff (01:08:49):
Bill Laurita (01:08:50):
And also, of course, our agricultural past and present, we do a lot, right in main stills, there's the whole organic farmers movement and so on. So yeah,
Logan Rackliff (01:09:00):
I think I did stop in to Peter and he kind of asked him that story one day. I can't recall at all. I did notice when I was looking at it the other day, the Dory, he was towing. It says post in it, and I'm pretty sure, so that's Nic Island. So I'm a lobsterman. So my territory, we fish up against Nic. Oh really?
Bill Laurita (01:09:21):
Logan Rackliff (01:09:22):
Thought he told me that was Nic. And they were taking it from Allen one way or the other. I can't remember. That could be Allen Island or it's Nic, and that might be buzzy. He's a local ground fisherman, towing that. I can't remember I quote it, but I was like, oh wow, that's right where we are. It's a really neat thing. And just a small connection I had.
Bill Laurita (01:09:44):
Well, in Maine there's only a half a degree of separation. Most places there's six degrees of separation apparently. But in Maine, you don't need to scratch the surface too much to find someone in common. So there's only 1.2 million people in the whole state. That's true. So it's like,
Logan Rackliff (01:10:01):
Yeah, no, it's really neat. So what I love to do too is just ask people what is something I normally do? Just what does quality mean to you?
Bill Laurita (01:10:12):
Well, it's really important to me that the things in my life are well-made, and I'd rather have fewer things, but of higher quality. So that goes from a corkscrew. We drink wine on the weekend with a nice dinner, and I want that corkscrew to work really well. I don't want a lousy corkscrew that I throw out after a year because it's failed to do its mission in life. And when I build things, so I like to renovate places and I do, in my spare time, I do make furniture. And I just gotten to the point where I don't care how long it takes and I want to use good materials and I want the right tool and I want it to function properly. So it's more important that if I hang a door that it swings the right way properly then that I get it done in half the time, or that I use a cheap contractor grade hinge and I don't want to do that. And I want the things to, someone has really thought about the design and the color, but also the functionality. How does this thing work? What purpose does it serve? Why is it in existence?
And I get it, we can't, on a practical level, have everything be just perfect. Okay. And I understand that price is a thing. It is for me too. So I get all that. So this is an ideal. And to the degree I can bring that ideal into reality, that's quality. That is quality, and it's something that's going to last. And when I am no longer here, I want my kids to be looking through my stuff and say, wow, that had some good stuff. Nice.
Logan Rackliff (01:12:14):
Wow. I dunno what to say besides to all that, except for Amen. I mean, you nailed it. I, I'm just going to copy that. And I talked about it. That was fantastic. And just one last thing I like to ask everybody too is, out of those things, maybe it's a corkscrew, do you have a favorite item at home or at work? Something maybe you use? Could be daily or just sometimes do you have a favorite thing or something that just stands out to you?
Bill Laurita (01:12:49):
Well, wow. Well, the thing, I don't know if it's my favorite, but one thing that just popped into my head when you said that is I do have a wood stove, and it's a beautiful enamel cast iron stove made by Vermont, that company out of Vermont? Yeah.
Logan Rackliff (01:13:15):
Is it Vermont?
Bill Laurita (01:13:16):
Logan Rackliff (01:13:17):
Vermont castings. Yeah.
Bill Laurita (01:13:21):
I mean, I'm no expert at wood stoves at all. So someone who is might say what, but all I know is that this stove, it's centrally located in our house. It heats really well. It has glass doors, so as long as they're clean, I can see the fire. And it's, we've had it for quite a few years. It's still looking pretty good because you can clean it and have it really look sharp and it throws out a lot of heat. And I just, even though it's a lot of work to do the wood, and I don't split my own wood, I get it delivered. It's got to get stacked and it's got to get brought into the back porch and so on and so forth. You move it a lot. Right.
I still really appreciate that thing because you can never get as warm with central heat as you can, in my experience anyway, with a wood stove. So we have central heat, of course, but we use it as little as possible because we have this wood stove and it's beautiful and it provides heat, and it's great to look at because we have, in the winter, we have our coffee and tea in front of that wood stove sitting on our couches in the living room. It's just always, yeah, it's something that is very functional, but very beautiful and keeps on working.
Logan Rackliff (01:14:50):
Cool. I just love to hear people say that because as they describe it to me, that's quality. Usually. Stories tied into their functionality, timelessness, all those things. I just love to, that's a great example. Well, thank you very much, bill for coming. I really appreciate it. If anybody wants to find you guys, where should they be looking?
Bill Laurita (01:15:13):
Well, we have a store in Camden, Maine and a store in Northport where we manufacture. And you can also see some of our processes that we do there if you come to Northport. But most people find us on the web at Swans Island company spelled out.com. And we have a great website, as you so graciously said, it's beautiful and functions as these things should, and you can also call us our number on the website, so yeah.
Logan Rackliff (01:15:43):
Yeah. You guys are a solid Instagram too, I've seen.
Bill Laurita (01:15:45):
Oh, thank you. Yes.
Logan Rackliff (01:15:47):
Anyway, thank you so much, bill. I really appreciate it, and I'm sure everybody's going to love this.
Bill Laurita (01:15:51):
Well, thank you, Logan. Thanks for doing this and for asking me, and I appreciated chatting with you.