Fashion to Farm: Inspirational Designer Becomes Fur Farmer

June 12, 2017 - Driven by the desire to explain to customers how the fur value chain works, the youngest furrier in Norway goes to work on a fur farm for a week.

Pernille Moripen, Norway’s youngest furrier, has spent a week working on a fur farm to explore the value chain and explain to customers how fur products are made.

Last year’s Summer School participant opened her atelier two years ago as a reward for years of hard work devoted to learning the right set of furrier skill.  Now, when the business is growing, Pernille is focusing on how to make it thrive even more.

 ‘’There is so much to think about when it comes to the business part and then you have to think about what your customers wants to buy when you are making your products. I make everything I sell in my shop, everything is handmade by me, except my knitted hats. There is always something to think about and you never stop working’’

A successful business also means a responsible supply of materials used in the atelier. Pernille says there is no room for compromise when both her reputation and that of her suppliers from the Norwegian Fur Breeders Association are at stake.

 ‘’I buy all of my fox and mink skins from local farms in my county here in Norway. The reason why I do that is because it gives me total control over the animal welfare and I know I’ll get the best skins.’’

Grateful for the trust of the customers, Pernille wants to do more to show she deserves it.  Although she has visited fur farms in the past, for her it is still an area of the value chain where she could improve her knowledge.

‘’I get a lot of different questions and have to be prepared about everything, and it’s so embarrassing if you can’t answer their questions. Animal welfare is the most important thing for my customers and I know they love it when I tell them about fur farming. ’’

The only way for Pernille to learn enough on the farming side is to become a farmer herself.  Even if it is for some time.

The organisation is easy. It takes one call to a friend from the Summer School – Anne, whose family owns a farm in the Netherlands, and the details are clear. Pernille leaves the furrier atelier to become a genuine fur farmer for a week.

 ‘’I got more interested in fur farming every minute I spent working at her farm. It is its two different things working and visiting a fur farm. When you just visit a farm you’ll just see the animals and how they are, but when you work at a farm you’ll see everything the farmers do and what the animals need. You get a VIP ticket to behind the scenes,’’ she explains.

 ‘’I had this dream about driving the feeding machine and I fulfilled it! It was so much fun, I loved every second of it; I don’t think I have been this happy for such a long time. I also went around the sheds to check the minks, if the moms and the puppies were okay, if they ate their food or had a bad tummy. There’s a lot to check! I felt like I actually became a farmer for some days.’’

Pernille admits that her approach might be unconventional for some, but she is certain for one thing – furrier and farmers depend on each other’s work, and should work closely together. The winner from this good relationship are the customers themselves.

 ‘’It’s really important that we know a lot about the whole fur business chain because then we can educate our customers and tell them about everything they want to know.’’

At the end of the farmer’s adventure, Pernille goes back to work on the side of the value chain, where she feels the most comfortable – at the atelier.  Asked what she want to see from the fur industry in the future, she gives a simple answer.

‘’We should do our best to give people positive knowledge about fur and let them see the fur business like I do, a wonderful, hardworking and fluffy world.’’