Port Huron mom of five finds time to revive handmade knitwear brand amid a pandemic

Ashley Teigeler has always loved making things. Being creative is something passed down from her parents, she says, and her grandmother before them.

So when Teigeler shut down her line of hand sewn cloth diapers in 2018, it’s perhaps inevitable that she would one day revive the Birchberry brand.

Birchberry recently relaunched with a new line of handmade products, including beanies, scarves, and ear warmers. Teigeler, along with her mother Julie Trimpe and her sister Jessica Trimpe, operate the business from her Port Huron Township home.

“I saw a cute hat online and thought about how much I missed making things.” Teigeler says.

“You would see pictures of customers wearing things other people made — it was so nice. I missed it.”

She’s no longer making and selling cloth diapers; her five children have since outgrown the diaper phase. It was when her youngest became a toddler that Teigeler put a pause on Birchberry — the mother of five, who also homeschools her children, simply no longer had time for the business. (A peek at the company Facebook page can attest to this, with one of the last posts before the pause being a mom-toddler meme of two figure skaters, one outstretched and the other trying to reel them back in.)

It may seem counterintuitive, but raising and homeschooling her five children has actually allowed Teigeler to restart Birchberry as the kids get older. She can knit and crochet as a way to relax while her children are learning.

And then there’s the late-night knit sessions with her family, too.

“It’s always fun. We have some pretty late nights, staying up way too late making things and getting a little slap-happy. It’s pretty cool. We’re like the Three Musketeers,” Teigeler says.

“My mom and my sister, we’re like friends. This way we can spend some quality time together.”

Birchberry offers a variety of stylish beanies in an array of sizes, including toddler, child, and adult sizes. The same goes for their infinity scarves and ear warmers.

Teigeler plans on offering little stuffed animals in the future. She also hopes to start making more “character” hats, beanies with animal ears or modeled after cartoon characters.

The dream is to one day open their own storefront, with retail in the front and a studio in the back where her mother can lead knitting and crocheting classes. Until then, they’ll continue to bring Birchberry back from her Port Huron home.

It’s a good way to restart a business, an enviable endeavor in these troubled times of COVID-19.

“Everyone’s been having a pretty tough year,” Teigeler says.

“People are bored, sitting around the house. My mom and my husband had their hours reduced at work. This is a way to boost our income — especially around Christmastime.”

The Birchberry brand is available online.

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