Moving America Forward

Manufacturing Chainmaille in the Rural Midwest

April 13, 2018
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Manufacturing Chainmaille in the Rural Midwest
Kayle Hope, Emrys Eller
For this entrepreneur, making jewelry was a hobby that blossomed into a full-time business.

For Edie Ramstad, retirement didn’t exactly go as planned. In 2011, she moved to the tiny city of Ada, Minnesota (population: 1,700), to settle down, but she quickly got bored. So she started a side business, called Weave Got Maille, that manufactures supplies for chainmaille, small metal rings that are woven together to create jewelry and are often seen in Renaissance costumes.

“I’ve always loved chainmaille,” Ramstad says. “Even though I made more high-end jewelry as a profession, it was chainmaille that I did as a hobby.”

Though her hobby-turned-business venture proved a hit, Ramstad faced challenges as it expanded. “It just took off,” she said. “It had a mind of its own, and it just kept growing.”

Weave got Maille was the first non-agricultural manufacturing business in the county. “We’re a very small farming community, and I was an internet company in a town that only had dial-up internet,” Ramstad says.

In 2013, Ramstad was so overwhelmed she decided to close the business. Seeking support, she drove an hour to Fargo, North Dakota, and attended 1 Million Cups –– a free program developed by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to connect entrepreneurs and provide resources for new business owners.

“It was life-changing,” Ramstad says about meeting other entrepreneurs. “I realized I wasn’t alone.”

With help from 1 Million Cups, Ramstad was able to manage her company’s growth challenges and keep the business going. Weave got Maille’s products are now sold in 76 countries and can be seen on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Watch the video above to learn more about how a novel networking community helped Ramstad and her business thrive.

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This content was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which works in entrepreneurship and education to create opportunities and connect people to the tools they need to achieve success, change their futures and give back to their communities.
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