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Meet the Makers Series: Red House

Feb. 12, 2020In your frustration with the daily tasks of work and life, how many times have you declared something akin to the following: “That’s it! I’m moving to a house in the woods! The mountains are calling!”



That’s exactly what Britt and Matt Witt of Red House did. Dissatisfied with the status quo, the duo set out on a journey that ultimately led them to the forests of Vermont, where they started to build their own business that would eventually become their livelihood.

Tucked away in their studio, Britt and Matt create the bespoke bags, aprons, and other home and lifestyle goods that comprise the Red House product line. Inspired by a conscious connection to their materials and the environment in which they’re made, the Witt’s aim to not only craft beautiful pieces but to also give back to the community in which they create by giving a portion of sales to the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont Farmshare Program. This particular program works to make fresh, organic food available to families of all income levels. We caught up with these two makers and doers to learn more about Red House and their endeavors. Read on for our interview and who knows, they may inspire you to follow your own intuition and make your way to the woods!

#1—Who are the creative minds behind the beautiful brand?

“Well howdy! Thanks so much for engaging us to share a bit about ourselves and our company!

We are a husband and wife team running a design and production studio tucked in the forests of Vermont. We are eternal life partners, parents to two teenagers, and fearless sojourners through the electric complexity of existence on the planet Earth.”

 

#2—What were your lives like before Red House?

“We led rather traditional lives before engaging the adventure of self-reliance, which ultimately resulted in small business ownership. Prior to moving to Vermont and starting Red House, we were acting out roles that our culture presented to us, but felt disconnected from what we knew as our true life path.

It was the notion of blindly following societal mandates, especially ones that did not coincide with our internal guidance, that created such discomfort within us, we ultimately had to make a shift, or risk a greater sense of despondency.”

 

#3—You mention on your website “…once you begin to take control of your reality, reality begins to acknowledge you in return, and even begins to lend a hand.” What does this mean to you?

“We feel that independence and sovereignty are a birthright of every human being. Oftentimes in our culture, we allow others to define expectations surrounding what we should do with our lives. The concept of taking control of one’s reality implies that in order to pursue what is written in your heart, you simply need to claim your right to define your own life, and not allow any other individual, group, or institution to dissuade you from your path.”

#4—How has this shift in reality lent a hand to the growth of your business?

“Once we engaged a path of self-guidance and determination, the idea of creating our own business arose organically out of our thoughts and actions. After establishing a commitment to authenticity in our livelihood, the desire for self-reliance took root and became impossible to ignore.

This shift in mindset, and subsequently external reality, essentially created our business and brand. We found that we were developing a brand through our actions before we even understood the concept of branding. We feel that others connect with these ideals, and since we are open to share our story — successes and failures — we become kindred with our audience and customers, and our business grows as a result.”

 

#5—Why Vermont? What role did/does your location play in Red House and your mindset?

“Vermont was a bit of an intuition move. As soon as it entered our thought process, we dropped all other options and declared it as our destination. It heavily influenced the creation of our company through the interpersonal connections we made with so many other individuals pursuing a similar path of independence. Vermont essentially defined our brand as well — as our materials, designs, and early products were all part of the lifestyle we embraced upon our arrival.”

 

#6—What led you to creating the specific products that you create? How do you choose the materials you work with?

“At first, our products were items we made for use in our personal lives: a Wood Fetcher for gathering and hauling wood indoors to heat our home with a woodstove, a Lunch Tote for Matt’s daily use in the cubicle he occupied before working Red House full-time, a Field Satchel for me to hold her essentials as we cycled around the village together. Once we honed in the items that we found most striking and that performed the best commercially, the shift into a handbag-forward product line took shape.

Our material sourcing was also an extension of lifestyle and environment. We were drawn to waxed canvas, not only for its resiliency as a textile, but also due to its shifting nature through use. Horween leather has always represented quality to us as a brand, and its dark, rich tones couple beautifully with antique brass. Lastly, French Ticking seemed to find us when I spied it through a window, in the back corner of a textile boutique in Cambridge, on a trip to visit family.”

#7—You give a portion of sales to support local farmers. Did you always intend for your business to have a giving angle? Why did you choose NOFA-VT to partner with?

“Once we dialed into our community, we quickly understood the importance that local farmers represent to our immediate surroundings. We became fast friends with a Shelburne husband/wife farming team at Bread and Butter Farm, and they influenced and inspired us profoundly.

“We always wanted to incorporate giving as part of our business model, and after gaining some traction and growth, we decided that supporting our local farmers and those seeking to engage in a direct connection with local food was a perfect fit.”

NOFA-VT’s Farmshare Program embodies this concept brilliantly, as they are working to subsidize a portion of CSA farmshares for low-income Vermonters, supporting both the consumer and the producer.”

 

#8—Why do you think it’s important for businesses to give back? 

“We subscribe to a belief that giving opens pathways for receiving. While this can be misconstrued as self-serving, our intention is to take a piece of our profits and push it out into the world in a direction that we feel is important to the greater community.

In doing so, we believe that a symbiotic connection is created, and one way or another, that outward giving ultimately returns to the giver, often in greater measure.”

 

#9—What’s next for Red House? Any special projects or products in the pipeline?

“We just completed construction of a studio and living space in the middle of the forest. This has been a dream of ours, for the better part of our lives together, and was honestly one of the most trying and fulfilling endeavors we have ever embarked on. With its completion, we are positioned to begin the next phase of our evolution as a company and a brand, and we are in the midst of new designs, new materials, and new visions for creating, gathering, and sharing.”

 

#10—As Vermonters, what’s your favorite way to spend a snow day?

“It is literally blizzarding sideways out all our windows as we sit and write this right now! There is something so amazing about being forced indoors by nature, with a fire, a book, and family.

While most will prepare with batteries and gasoline for an impending 24 inches of snow, we race to the store for brownie mix, ice cream, cocoa, beer, and wine.”

Thank you Britt and Matt for taking the time to share your journey with our community!

 

Be sure to follow Red House on Instagram @RedHouseVT and share your own snowday tips with us @AvocadoMattress and #AvocadoGreenMagazine!

Julie O'Boyle

By Julie O'Boyle

 —  Julie O'Boyle is a freelance writer and content strategist with a background in fashion and DIY and a devotion to the outdoors and functional nutrition. Currently residing in the woods of Maine, when she's not writing you can find her at the beach or on a mountain, or otherwise getting her hands dirty.

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