Birds of a Feather

When we sat down to formulate our business plan for Pavo Textiles, one of our initial goals was to locate a reliable mill in the United States working with natural fibers and a transparent manufacturing process. If we did not find the right mill for our venture Pavo would remain an intangible concept.  File under: Dreams

Our intent was to find a mill in the United States, but we cast our net wide, looking at mills from all over the world in order to compare price, skill, sourcing, and technique.  The more time we invested in our search, the more it became clear to us that we absolutely needed to find a mill domestically. The number of textile mills in the United States had been quickly dwindling and when those mills closed, decades of knowledge and expertise were quietly being lost to the dust of history.  From 1997 to 2010, over 1200 textiles mills closed, with most weaving equipment in those mills being shipped overseas to be used in mills producing cheap textiles, destined for import to the United States. Between 2004 and 2009, almost forty percent of the jobs in the textile industry were lost with such jobs being outsourced to cheaper labor in countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, and China.

We were firm in our conviction to produce American-made textiles and we renewed our search with gusto.  Our initial efforts were disappointing; there were a limited number of mills who could produce to the quality and specifications we required and those that were able to do so were decidedly wary of working with an unknown entity, which is what Pavo was at the time.

In our search one mill we heard about over and over again was The Oriole Mill; they came highly recommended by our contacts in the industry, and were spoken of with a hushed, reverent awe.

The Oriole Mill was founded in 2006 by Stephan Michelson and Bethanne Knudson as the textile industry in the United States was quickly transitioning production to cheaper overseas facilities and leaving laid-off workers and deserted towns in its wake. While other mills were closing their doors, Oriole was setting up shop.  To say that this was a bold, risky, daring move is most certainly an understatement.  In the face of a flagging industry focused on cheap disposable goods The Oriole Mill is deeply committed to weaving high quality textiles made with the finest natural fibers and have made a reputation for being innovative, independent, and luxurious.  Their ideology embodied everything we wanted to be able to say and do with our textiles.  Oriole seemed like a natural fit for Pavo since we shared many of the same convictions:  the desire to create heirloom quality products, fair wages, the use of natural fiber, superior design, unsurpassed technical skill, and a deep and abiding commitment to high quality American made products.  We wanted in.  

For us, it was a match made in heaven. So we called. We emailed. We called again. It took months before anyone at The Oriole Mill would even talk to us. In hindsight, it is not surprising; they are a small artisan mill with exclusive clientele and they offer a unique service no longer found in the States and we were a buzzing fly with an unknown end product.


Penumbra Matelassé baby blanket

In a textile industry that’s ninety percent gone, what’s the other ten percent doing? There’s not a lot of quality goods being made. The other part of that ten percent is the high-quality industry. That’s where we come in.
— Stephan Michelson

By the time we met Bethanne and Stephan they had taken on rock-star status, but were even more impressive in person.  Bethanne is a passionate artist and educator. She has the energy of a lightening bolt in both body and mind. She is a masterful technician and designs the cloth from the fiber to the loom, taking into consideration the innate structure of the fabric and what it can support.  Bethanne reminds us of Michelangelo, who was able to see the form of the figure within the stone before the first cut.

Our relationship began with reworking Oriole's English Sonnet design to suit the desired (and required) characteristics of a woven wrap, and, at Bethanne's suggestion, developing Penumbra as a parallel release to create the beginnings of two distinct  collections for Pavo Textiles: En Plein Air and Effets de Soir.  

After ten months of working with The Oriole Mill we are thrilled to announce our exclusive partnership and co-branding under the label 

Pavo Guild

named for our mutual desire to thrive while producing luscious textiles in a constantly shifting market and to also capture the synchronicity of the birds in both our brand names.  The Oriole Mill produces home furnishings that complement Pavo Textiles’s collections, and Pavo Textiles will work with The Oriole Mill to extend our product line and continue our commitment to producing strong, safe, beautiful woven baby wraps.  We plan to innovate and overlap as much as possible, incorporating our collective designs with the traits appropriate to woven wraps to bring you the finest textiles made in the United States.  

Pavo Guild will distinguish itself from Pavo Form in that it will be made from the finest most luxurious fiber on the market, and will be woven exclusively under the partnership of The Oriole Mill.   

In addition to The Oriole Mill we are also deeply indebted to Libby O'Bryan of the adjacent Sew Co, who is responsible for our fine finishing and the development of our final product. She spent hours of her life aligning the border of Parterre, and adjusted our raw size chart to allow for little to no waste in the cutting room.  She asked all the right questions and had all the right answers as we fumbled through the explanation and demonstration of our woven wraps.  The combined forces of The Oriole Mill and Sew Co listened intently as we explained our product—its need to be weight bearing, what safety standards it must pass, how it should feel to parent and baby—and they are continuing to listen and innovate as we grow in our relationship. 

The most sustainable is that which need not be replaced.
— Bethanne Knudson

Pavo Textiles is incredibly lucky and infinitely grateful to be working with both The Oriole Mill and Sew Co. as we begin our exclusive collaboration into woven wraps and beyond.

Procresco 100% cotton jacquard woven wrap

In November we sent out samples for critique to some well respected and experienced babywearers, we were so happy to have a wrap worthy of review and couldn't wait for their feedback.  We knew we liked it, that is why we released it into the wilds, but we needed to hear something more than our own excitement ringing in our ears.

For us Procresco embodies the spirit of Pavo, it is woven in a small improbable mill run by passionate owners who believe in superior quality, integrity and a fair wage above all else.  Procresco is made from materials sourced, spun, and woven in the United States, making it fiber forward and unique in the babywrap market. It is even finished close to the mill making its fiber-miles, as we call them, tiny in comparison to say textiles in the apparel industry which travel the globe in various stages of production.  In loom-state it is soft and supple in hand, with no goop or residue from production since slashing is not necessary with the type of fiber used and the attention given to the tension at the creel for the warp.  

I will let my better half, J$, talk to you about the design and the concept behind Procresco, she is the scholar, the writer, and the funny one to boot.  For now, the testers speak.

xo, Erin

Larissa's review

Gorgeous true black threads and silvery white ones make this wrap striking out of the box. The pattern has a lovely amount of grip without being overly so, due to the fiber choice and the distribution of the design against the background. In hand, the wrap is silky-fluffy soft; medium thickness, not at all overwhelming, with a lovely cush and drape that carry over to being worn.

My initial thought when wrapping my 4.5 month old was that it was unlike any other woven wrap I have tried. It bears similarities to wraps made by other manufacturers, of course, but it is uniquely itself--uniquely Pavo. It wraps lightly and yet maintained cush without being dense. It is supremely comfortable. It has just that touch of bounce that acts as a shock absorber while wearing, yet it did not sag. It is exquisitely beautiful and soft, well suited to beginners and experts alike. If this is but a preview of what Pavo has to offer, we in the baby wearing world are in for a marvelous treat!

We still aren't back wrapping much so I didn't get to really test it that way, unfortunately. She's currently 14-15 pound so not a really heavy subject, but I get the sense that it would be comfortable for me with a bigger kid. It fits my wrapping aesthetic nicely, though graphically it isn't a pattern I normally gravitate toward. The tactile quality of the threads and the density are just lovely. 

Jilliane's review

I want to start by saying I am so eternally grateful that you have given me this opportunity to see, touch, try and yes, fall in love with this beautiful piece of art. You told me earlier about the "Fiber Forward" aspect of this wrap and let me just tell you, it's amazing, the shine, it just glistens in any type of light and the contrast helps this. The softness of it is beyond wonderful for a brand new wrap, there is no break in process and if there is, it will be very minimum with these fibers. The thickness is dead, spot on, not overly thick where its un-managable and not super thin where it will not be a great wrap for all ages. The texture is also perfect, enough for it to grip and hold your carries.

Let me tell you about what and how we have worn this beauty so far.  A quick trip up to cuddle in a Ruck TT. It felt soft and wrapped great for that short amount of time. Let's move forward to Saturday one of our crazy days, we went to a craft show at a local high school and walked around for about two hours where E rested nicely and also fell asleep in a Double Hammock. The wrapping qualities of this fits great with its look. It has the perfect amount of stretch to it but no sagging. It is thick and dense which makes it great for carrying a toddler (E is three-years-old and around 35 pounds) and yes he did feel weightless in the two hours that he was up there. The cush of it felt amazing on my shoulders and there was no digging either.

After the craft show we went for a walk through the park to enjoy some of the fall's sights, sounds, and smells.  Again, we were there for about two-and-a-half hours with E up most of the time for our walk, then a quick stop at the play ground until E fell in the mud and we had to call it a day. This time I did a Back Wrap Cross Carry with Ruck straps. No digging, no sagging, no re-adjusting needed, it was secure and very comfortable. I am very pleased with this wrap and yes if given the chance I would certainly purchase it for either E or an upcoming squishy. 

Jilliane, VBE


Role Models

As we grow our business we are continuously looking for inspiration both in the artworld and the marketplace, but also more significantly among the leaders in eco and social responsible manufacturing.  

One of our favorite designers Alabama Chanin today shared in her blog the new book by Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose, Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change. In it Alabama Chanin is sited as an example of a business that supports a local economy and builds relationships with the consumer the producer and the community—everything we want to be.

Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change is at the top of our night table book stack for information on nurturing Pavo Textiles into an inspiration in its own right.