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Shrunken Sweaters Lead to Million Dollar Business

Posted December 27, 2010 in AlumniAlumni

Sue Lee Burns (‚??83) started Baabaazuzu 18 years ago when she discovered that her husband had thrown her wool sweaters in with the regular wash, which resulted in shrunken sweaters. Instead of tossing them, she cut them up and used the pieces to make matching jackets and hats for her (then) small daughters. ‚??As they wore them, people would ask me where I had bought them. I soon realized that I had a business opportunity, and I opened Baabaazuzu as a line of children‚??s clothing.‚?Ě‚?® The company‚??s unusual name comes from a coupling of ‚??baa-baa‚?Ě (for the sheep), and Burns‚?? nickname: ‚??Zuzu.‚?Ě‚?®‚?®

Baabaazuzu‚??s line of clothing and accessories is made from reclaimed woolens. Burns and a group of 20 year-round, full-time, in-house employees and another four who work out of their homes make a diverse selection of items, including hats, mittens, scarves, jackets, vests, gloves, purses, bags, satchels, zip totes, Christmas stockings, and a wide range of accessories including pins, headbands, slippers, and boot liners that are now sold by more than 900 retailers across the United States, Canada and Japan, as well as online.

Recently Baabaazuzu‚??s cold-weather creations were shown on ABC Television‚??s new celebrity sporting competition, ‚??Skating with the Stars.‚?Ě Actress Sean Young was shown wearing baabaazuzu‚??s colorful and whimsical hats and gloves. Burns said that her goals for the company include developing a bigger presence in the Rockies and the Northwest, and she is glad that the firm is currently experiencing some ‚??exciting growth‚?Ě in the Canadian market. She would like to see Baabaazuzu grow globally, especially in the southern hemisphere, which would provide year-round revenue for what is now a third and fourth quarter business.

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