Jessie McShane is the designer and blogger behind Wool & Whiskey
, where she makes handmade warmth in the form of scarves, beanies, mittens, and more.
Talk about the beginnings of Wool & Whiskey. What inspired you begin this endeavor?
Wool and Whiskey was two fold. I learned to knit while teaching abroad in South Korea. My co-teachers were always knitting in-between classes to pass time. For me, it was a great way to break some of the language barrier and it ignited an instant connection between myself and the other Korean teachers. I got really into it in Korea as I had a lot of down time on weeknights and weekends. At home in Northern Wisconsin and the Twin Cities I spend a lot of time in hockey rinks and outside during the winter months. I decided to take my knitting skills I learned in South Korea and knit something big and cozy that was fashionable but would still keep me warm during those cold northern temps. The Wool and Whiskey brand was born after wearing my items out and about when people would ask where I got them. My dad was the one that helped with the whiskey part of the name. We were out at a pub in small town Wisconsin and brainstorming brand names. My dad was raised Irish Catholic, the whiskey suggestion came naturally.
Have you always been creative? What forms or channels have you explored in your creative journey?
I believe I have, yes. My mom started her own photography business in 1992 and my dad was always cheering us along to be independent and do things differently. We were raised very independently and I believe that has helped me tremendously with my business. Photography is something that I grew up with and love.
How have the items you make evolved? How have you evolved as an artist and businesswoman?
I do not believe there is one person in this world that could have taught me what I know today about my business. You have to go through it. You have to go through the 18 hour day knitting days, the crazy busy holiday season, the designing, crafting, branding, marketing, packaging, and social media updating to fully evolve (or become more evolved) in owning a business. I do not think I will ever be fully evolved and I think that is a good thing.
There's an ease, comfort, warmth, and simplicity in your handmade scarves, mitts, hats, and more. Where do you find inspiration to make?
I take great pride in the comfort and simplicity of my scarves. Working with big, cozy yarn on a chilly fall or winter day might be my favorite thing to do on earth. It is incredibly satisfying producing something that you know will keep someone cozy and warm.The most beautiful thing about knitting is that my hands are tied. When I am knitting my mind is free to think about other things and what I can do next to push the brand and products to the next level. It is a form of meditation. I am working while I am working to make every move intentional.
How has living and making in Minnesota influenced your creative work, specifically through Wool & Whiskey?
Minnesota is THE BEST. I have so much love for all Minnesota makers and buyers that shop local. There is a sense of community like no where else and people in Minnesota are one of a kind. My greatest satisfaction is seeing my handmade warmth worn by others. That pushes me and the Wool and Whiskey brand to keep going, and keep producing new and exciting things.