“Wool is such a beautiful fabric that has so much potential that’s overlooked – a lot of people don’t respect how beautiful it is,” says Kevin Burns, the co-owner of Baabaazuzu in Lake Leelanau.
This beautiful fabric that is known to be a little high-maintenance has provided a Northern Michigan couple with a brand that’s been creating stylish pieces for over 25 years.
“Kevin my husband was doing laundry and happened to throw a whole load of my wool sweaters in the dryer. They came out very small and misshapen,” says Sue Burns, the Creator and the “Zuzu” in Baabaazuzu.
This accident turned into Sue and Kevin Burn’s dream business. They took those shrunken sweaters and reinvented them.
Sue says, “I looked at our small daughters and said maybe I can salvage them into wearables for our little girls so I made them little hats and jackets and sent them out the door and never thought anything of it. Next thing I knew, everyone wanted to know where they could get them and that was sort of the light bulb moment.”
Taking post-consumer goods and “upcycling” them is a process that creates unique products every single time.
“We get our wool from salvage companies from around the U.S. We contract with them and buy about 1,000 pounds at a time. They sort, balance and ship to us right here to our facility,” says Sue.
Kevin then grades the wool and bundles it so they know which products the wool goes to whether that be gloves, hats, scarves, etc.
A designer by day, making sure each product is as unique as a snowflake, Sue says, “It’s the eye – you gotta have the eye. I’ve been doing it for so long and I’m steeped in design and so it comes very naturally to me.”
This eye for style is something Sue always understood, but it took some time convincing to get others to see the beauty in upcycling.
“At first boutiques were like we love the look but once we explained what it was they were like woah our client doesn’t want anything recycled, they’re not going to wear that. Then 10 years down the road everyone was all over the recycled movement we just couldn’t keep the product in stock,” Kevin says.
Giving life to old wool sweaters is keeping people stylish and warm during our chilly winter months. These products are sold globally but can also be found right here in Northern Michigan.
For more information about BaaBaazuzu .