At the start it isn’t much to look at. Just a heap of raw fiber. But as it moves through the mill it is transformed into a luxurious piece of fabric. You only get to luxury through quality, so before it leaves there is one more process. A meticulous vetting by hand of every square inch for any imperfection. With an expert eye she spots things that others wouldn’t give a second thought. It’s the final step before it’s introduced to the world so she makes sure it’s the world’s best. This is Paula Hastings and she is Assistant Mending Supervisor at American Woolen.
I grew up in Somers. A girlfriend of mine had a boyfriend here at the mill and suggested I come fill out an application. I did, and I've been here ever since. Twenty-six years now.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
A lot of it is making decisions, because this is the final step before it goes to the customer. That's a lot of pressure. It has to be perfect.
What's the most rewarding part?
To see where the product started and then to see what it actually looks like when it is done is amazing. Some of the cashmeres look and smell like an old barn when they come in, but once it gets here and it's finished, it looks absolutely beautiful.
What does the Made in America movement mean to you?
My grandfather was a supervisor at the old mill in Somers that burned down. I grew up hearing them talk about it. A lot of people you talk to now are surprised, because they don’t think this type of thing is done here anymore. They assume it is in the past, but here I am doing what my grandfather did.
I have a new granddaughter, and she's my first so I spend a lot of time with her.