I had so much fun connecting with my friend Franceska Earls and learning more about her beautiful sustainable sweater line Augden. I find her company’s mission so inspiring, and I’m so excited to share her story with all of you.
Julie: What did you do prior to starting Augden?
Fran: I grew up in the fashion industry following in my mother’s footsteps, who was a fashion designer. I grew up sitting beside her while she was designing, creating prototypes, conducting fittings, and styling photo shoots etc. I then worked for Rebecca Taylor out of college, during an exciting time in fashion, traveling domestically and abroad to recruit and manage partnerships with vendors. I saw the beauty and challenges firsthand in fashion as the industry continued to seek lower and lower costs for production across the world.
Julie: What is the Inspiration behind Augden and the company’s mission?
Fran: The inspiration behind the brand started when I traveled to my Mom’s home country of Bolivia to reconnect with my heritage. I was inspired by the incredible handmade pieces lining the streets of La Paz and deeply moved by the lack of opportunity for the talented women making these clothes to provide for their families. At the time, and this trend continues today, machines were quickly replacing the craft of hand making clothes. I realized Augden could provide consumers with rare handmade pieces styled modernly, yet sourced and made locally, while empowering these native artisans with greater financial freedom, all while helping preserve this centuries old Andean craft. Each Augden piece is signed by the talented artisan who knit it.
Augden’s top three tenets
- Creating beautiful, sustainable, responsible products.
- Empowering women artisans with greater financial independence in Bolivia.
- Preserving and showcasing the Bolivian culture of Hand Knitting.
Julie: What is your favorite piece from your current line?
Fran: The Dune Sweater is such a gorgeous piece that embodies the essence of the perfect sweater, beautiful, soft, easy fit, yet lofty. You’re enveloped in a classic cozy turtleneck sweater while still stylish in winter white. Alpaca is an amazing fabric as it is incredibly soft, technically softer than cashmere, while also being both warm and breathable. Our alpacas are all free range and temperatures vacillate often in the high Andes based on sunlight, so our sweaters reflect this same material benefit. As a result, I style my line and pieces so they can be worn in multiple seasons. For example, you could wear Augden out for Après ski, as a layering piece on the beach at night, or for an outdoor dining dinner date.
Julie: Current daily uniform, what are you wearing often?
Julie: What is your favorite recipe or things you like to cook?
Fran: There is an incredible bounty of local farms on the North Fork of Long Island where we live and breathe the farm to table ideology. In the Fall, I love roasting a huge tray full of colorful veggies that are still so fresh from the ground they need little to no seasoning and result in a gorgeous platter. In the Summertime, I love to make a farro salad with local veggies, arugula and dried fruit which is always a hit for get togethers.
Julie: What is your workout of choice, and favorite workout attire that you are loving now?
Fran: My favorite hour of the day is my daily morning circuit training with my fitness guru and health coach Sarah Sirico. It keeps me young at heart for myself and my family. My favorite workout is the yearly Triathlon Sprint which is humbling yet exhilarating. Outdoor Voices workout attire is my fave, Short Sleeve Tee and Core Leggings stay put through the toughest workouts!
Julie: What is a daily ritual you practice?
Fran: Our household thrives on routine, so before the day begins I start each morning with a tall glass of water and a scoop of marine collagen followed by an iced almond milk latte, over which I’ll do one to two minutes of a gratitude practice and set an intention for the day. We have a family daily ritual of taking a walk and watching the sunset over the inlet beach that is down the road from us, which is something we started during Covid and became our silver lining that we will continue to do. Each evening brings an inspiring different gradient of colors and is a special way to recount our days and plan for the next.
Julie: What is your favorite cocktail?
Fran: If you’re lucky enough to get a table, a Classic Margarita on the rocks, as served by Le Cevicheria in Cartagena, Columbia. It is my favorite cocktail ever, salt on the rim of course.
Julie: What is your favorite place to travel to, and all time favorite hotel?
Fran: My favorite place to travel to is a tie between the otherworldly and deeply spiritual hike to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu which is a truly life changing event, and the last stop on the Paris Metro #4. The sprawling Marché Clignancourt otherwise known as the Clignancourt Flea Market, a different sort of a spiritual event if you are a treasure hunter at heart like me. My all time favorite hotel is Singita in South Africa, the Lembombo Lodge, landing in a small aircraft while giraffes gallop past the tiny airstrip is a thrill. A place to truly feel one with the earth and where humanity originated from. It’s like you can hear the earth’s heartbeat on the vastly grand safari of the legendary Kruger Park.
Julie: What are your plans for Augden in the future?
Fran: Our deep commitment to community building in Bolivia, as mentioned above, centers around the idea of sustainable knits and sustainable employment for local female artisans. There are many impoverished young girls and women that could learn to be self employed and learn how to harness opportunity by learning how to knit, how to create. As Augden grows, our most important plan is to bring these women under our wings and to teach them these skills, share knowledge and continue tradition. In regards to our product offerings we plan on expanding our sweaters to include children pieces and potentially offer rare vintage handwoven rugs, and antiques on our commerce platform to further round out the Augden experience.