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Small businesses thrive in Lund

Handcrafted clothing draws local and international buyers
lund business
LUND FACTOR: A small number of handcrafted clothing businesses in Lund have found international success in sales of their products, including Katie Beaton, whose Red Creek Kids business began with making clothes for her daughter June, three. Contributed photo

Lund is known for many things: mile zero of the Pacific Coastal Highway; the end of the road or the beginning, depending on your perspective; gateway to Desolation Sound; and those cinnamon buns at Nancy’s Bakery.

Now the quaint little village is becoming known around the world for exceptional, handcrafted clothing.

“When moving to Lund, I was unaware of the creative hub that exists here,” said Ken Diamond, a craftsperson of footwear and leather goods who began his business on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a far cry from the peaceful solitude of Lund.

“Lund is the perfect speed, it’s whatever you want it to be,” he said. “There is so much going on, you just have to look for it. Whether it’s exploring the backcountry, all the trails, spending time in the studio developing new products or kicking back with some friends, it’s amazing.”

Of the Lund clothiers, the most famous success and first to be founded and flourish is Pollen Sweaters. Now in its 30th year, the local institution is known throughout the region.

The first sweater produced was the placket neck, which is still the most popular of Pollen’s line.

“Please don’t call it a placard, as so many people do,” said Carla Brosseau, founder Eve Pollen’s daughter.

According Pollen, people in Lund are proud of the company and the sweaters’ origins, as is she.

“I’m so grateful of the community,” said Pollen. “When people have out-of-town guests and bring them all the way out to Lund to see the sweater store it’s a lovely feeling that people want to share.”

That warmth is shared as far away as a diamond mine north of the Arctic Circle and “in Coober Pedy, Australia, one of the hottest places on earth to live,” said Pollen. “The Australian customer has a dog team in Alaska and wanted to have her wool sweater on when she got off the plane.”

Pollen said she is now semi-retired and Brosseau is running the show.

“Right now I’m working every day because we’re slammed with orders,” she said. “Carla calls me a free-range hen now. I pop into the hen house once in a while.”

Currently, Pollen has orders for 300 sweaters. Brosseau’s crew of friends can make 20 per day, with each sweater taking two hours to create.

Pollen and her family have been fixtures as “Lundies” for years, whereas Diamond is a “newbie.”

“Lund wasn’t on our radar,” said Diamond. “As we started looking to buy, it was the land and home that sold us. Once I moved here was when I became aware of all the do-it-yourself-ers in Lund. It’s great to be surrounded by so many driven and creative businesses.”

Katie Beaton said she and her family had not planned to settle in Lund either, but decided to take the plunge a year ago.

Beaton’s children’s clothing business, Red Creek Kids, has exploded in just a few short years.

“I ship worldwide and most of my customer base is in the US,” said Beaton. “I ship a lot to Europe, Bermuda, Russia, Korea or Chile. It’s so strange.”

Beaton said she attributes the success of her business to social media and “a big, online presence on Instagram.”

Moms are active on Instagram, which gives her product line endless reach, said Beaton.

Beaton’s unadorned clothing line began with her making clothes for her three-year-old daughter. The pieces are all made of natural linen and reflect the Lund lifestyle.

“Everyone is relaxed and it’s pretty cozy,” she said. “Our clothes are laid back for country living, but durable for kids.”

Beaton said she wants to make products that last for a long time that, once outgrown, can be passed along to another child.

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