Ivory Row in Nicaragua

Our creative director Grace Chang recently traveled to Nicaragua and came across an incredible story that we wanted to share with you. 

While strolling through the streets of Granada, she came across a store filled with these amazingly colorful hammocks unlike anything she had ever seen. Wonderful colors. Incredible craftsmanship. Uniquely original. As she peeked around the store, she also noticed a beautiful working space with high ceilings and graphic tiles, filled with busy workers weaving hammocks.

Upon entering the store, she immediately spotted a beautiful hand-woven bag. While paying, the salesman generously offered to show her around the space. 

Inside the store was a small garden with a café on the right side and tons of hammocks hung majestically. It was there that she was introduced to Senor Antonio, the mastermind behind the store. Well, it turns out that he was so much more than the owner of the store.

The entire space was a haven created by Tio Antonio. Originally a chef from Valencia, lived many years in Barcelona, who moved to Costa Rica in 2006, he realized he didn’t like Costa Rica much and came to Nicaragua. One day, as he was traveling to Antigua, Guatemala, he was hit by a storm so severe that his car ran into a ditch. A generous family kindly offered him food and shelter….for 37 days!

Tio Antonio quickly realized that the family’s oldest child Cano was 13 years old, deaf and mute. He wanted to return the goodness this family had provided for him and raised funds from his friends in Spain to get medical treatment for Cano. It turns out that, with the generous help of Antonio and his friends, the doctors were able to fit Cano with a special hearing aid that would, for the first time, allow him to hear and start learning how to speak. From this experience, he learned that there were no educational, support, or career opportunities for disabled children in Granada. It was then that he decided to launch a business that would help those children who were most in need.

And thus…Tio Antonio’s Hammocks was founded.

Charity and the social good are the foundation for everything that he does in Nicaragua. In addition to the hammock store, Tio Antonio also started a café (el cafe de las sonrisas) where anybody is welcome to come eat and work. The entire wait staff is disabled. In addition to teaching them sign language, he hung prints of sign language on the wall for people to learn and order.

Tio explained to Grace that her beautifully hand-woven bag was actually made by mothers of disabled children. Due to the non-stop care of their children, these mother’s can’t travel outside of their home. Nor can they go far to work. Instead, they make these incredibly bags at home and bring them to the store to sell. She knew her bag was special, but she had no idea how special it was until now.

We want to spread the word of Tio’s incredible mission so we've decided to help him in any way that we can. As parents, we can’t help but think of those incredibly hard-working moms making these bags to support their disabled children. Their message and these bags need to be seen and heard by as many people as possible.

So who wants one? Email me at grace@ivoryrow.com

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5 Things to Know About the Chinese New Year

It's a chance to spend time with families and prepare for the good fortune to come.

Today marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, China’s biggest and most ceremonious holiday. Though China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunar calendar maintains ceremonial significance, and so every year, around the new moon closest to the beginning of spring, Chinese people ring in the beginning of a new annual cycle — a chance to honor one’s ancestors and prepare for the good fortune to come.

Here’s what you should know about the holiday:

1. It’s about family. Unlike the New Year celebration per the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year is not a time for drunken revelry and sequined hats. On Sunday night — Chinese New Year’s Eve — the streets of Hong Kong are quiet as locals gathered in their houses for “reunion dinners” with family members who’ve returned home.

2. The world’s greatest annual migration of people. Fortune recently called it “the greatest travel nightmare of 2016.” In China, Hong Kong and other countries with a significant Chinese population, the New Year is celebrated as a public holiday — schools and offices close during this time — and so a massive number of people take advantage of the opportunity to travel — either heading home to be with loved ones or going on holiday. Though workers in mainland China are given seven consecutive days off, the holiday period extends through early March, during which officials expect 2.91 billion trips to be taken!

Last Monday, more than 100,000 people were stuck at a railway station in the southern city of Guangzhou after a series of train delays.

3. You’ll be seeing red. To the Chinese, red represents good fortune, and so around the New Year the color can be seen everywhere in Chinese cities: red lanterns hang in doorways; red paper cutouts adorn windows. And a staple of the holiday: red envelopes, called hongbao in Mandarin, or lai seein Cantonese, are filled with cash and given by married people to children, unmarried relatives and friends, and employees. The sum is typically an even number, and it shouldn’t contain the number four, which is considered unlucky because it sounds like the Chinese word for death.

4. We’re entering the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese calendar assigns each new year an animal per a rotating zodiac of 12: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Last year was the Year of the Goat; this year is the Year of the Monkey. People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterized as intelligent, witty, curious and playful. The years 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 and 2004 were also assigned as the Year of the Monkey.

5. It’s now celebrated around the world. China has seen a significant diaspora, and cities that have received a large number of Chinese immigrants over the years are now holding their own celebrations for the New Year. In New York City, for instance, all public schools are closed on Monday to commemorate the holiday. The Lunar New Year festivities are also observed by Vietnamese and Koreans, as well as Tibetans, whose first day of celebration falls on Tuesday.

Happy Lunar New Year!

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Why Are Some Cashmere Sweaters So Expensive?

Via our good friends at InStyle Magazine comes a new article discussing why some cashmere is more expensive than others. Below is an excerpt: 

Here at InStyle, we love sweater weather. Whether we are opting for light, paper-thin styles to sport solo or chunky knits to layer over crisp oxfords, these chic basics are wardrobe essentials. And the coziest options happen to be cashmere. But, when shopping for these knits, the huge difference in prices can be extremely perplexing. For instance, you can buy a crewneck cashmere sweater from Uniqlo for as low as $49.90, whereas a ribbed cashmere knit from The Row costs $1,690. Why is one option so much cheaper than the other?
Quality is a tricky proposition.
There are three different grades of cashmere in terms of softness: A, B, and C. Grade A fibers are the best and most expensive, meaning they are the finest and thinnest. Grade B is slightly thicker than A, so it is less soft. Grade C is almost double the thickness of Grade A, which is significantly coarser. Unfortunately, cashmere garments never list grades on their labels, Cormier says. "You're not going to know what the grade is because the tag is going to say the country of origin and 100-percent cashmere," he explains. "Your best bet is to go with how it feels on the hand."
No matter the price, all sweaters pill.
Whether your cashmere sweater is $50 or closer to $2,000, all sweaters pill. "The fluffier or lighter the knit is, the more it will pill," Patmos says. So does that mean the cheaper the sweater is, the more likely it will pill? Not necessarily. "Sometimes cashmere is washed more times in the manufacturing process to be softer than its original form," she says, "so really soft sweaters at all prices will pill."
Ivory Row brings you sweaters using only the finest Grade A Mongolian cashmere. Our cashmere comes from the highest quality mills, the same ones producing for your favorite luxury and designer brands. However, by avoiding the high costs associated with traditional brick-and-mortar retail, we're able to offer pricing that is far below what you would normally pay. 
Quality guaranteed. 
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PFW Knitspiration

Paris Fashion Week always has some of the best street style, and this season is no exception. Take a look at Ivory Row creative director Grace Chang's favorite knit looks of the week. 

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Sweater Weather + Cashmere Care

1. How can you gently remove pills from a sweater?

The truth is that all sweaters will pill just by wearing or cleaning them. You can remove pills easily by holding the sweater flat with one hand and slicing off pills one at a time with a simple razor, like a Bic. You can also buy a manual pill remover. 

2. How often should you wash a sweater?

Did the sweater pick up germs or dirt? That warrants a washing. A good rule of thumb is to wash every six to eight wears, unless you spill, sweat or are around smoke.

3. Walk us through hand washing a sweater step by step.

To wash your cashmere sweater, first turn it inside-out. Immerse it in a solution of cold water and a gentle wool wash product like Woolite or The Laundress. Don’t scrub thoroughly, but instead gently squeeze the suds through the fabric. Never wring or stretch the fabric in any way. Finally, rinse the garment several times in clean lukewarm water until the water runs clear without any traces of detergent.

4. And how do you squeeze out water and let it dry?

Never wring anything. Gently squeeze water out of the sweater and then lay it flat on a towel. Press out the excess water. Roll it up like a sleeping bag to really suck up the excess water. Dry it by laying it flat on a clean towel and reshape it as it dries. Allow it to air dry naturally. 

6. Any other tips? 

Wet cashmere can sometimes take days to dry. To cut the time in half, use a large salad spinner to spin off excess water. Use one with a pull cord; they’re more effective. Then lay flat to dry.

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