Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Marissa Goodman Thieriot. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a workspace post on her incredible small business. As most of you know, whether I am designing a home or choosing my own clothes, I’m attracted to timeless style. When I saw the designs of Marissa’s line – Tempest + Bentley, I could relate to their updated classic look. It reminded me of when I would wear my father’s sweater when we’d go on long walks at the beach. Marissa started her company for all the right reasons – thinking about respect for natural resources as well as ethical production processes. As a fellow Oregonian transplanted in San Francisco, I look forward to Marissa’s success and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful sweaters she’ll have in store for us in the future.
Give us a brief background of what inspired you to start Tempest + Bentley. What drew you to sweaters, specifically?
I was a knitwear designer for the first ten years of my career. My first job was for a cashmere knitwear designer where I did everything from design sweaters, to run the production room, to ship orders. I learned about luxury fibers and knitting techniques and discovered that I enjoyed immensely, the process of designing and combining stitches, and working with yarn. I worked for numerous companies in San Francisco including Esprit before they moved oversees. While I was working as a designer for Old Navy, I really began to envision myself creating my own line. It wasn’t until I left corporate fashion and was five years in, working in fashion tech, that I felt ready to take on my own business. I also met my husband during this time and his work in sustainable agriculture and ranching greatly inspired my vision to create a line where design and ethical production were equally important. San Francisco is also cool and often foggy, year round. Most people here have a lot of sweaters. There’s nothing more comforting to me to wear than a super soft oversized sweater.
From buttons to packaging, you’ve done a lot of work to ensure each aspect of the production process is aligned with sustainability. Why is this commitment so important to the brand?
When I started the long process of researching yarns, trims, labels, factories and everything else, I didn’t know if I’d be able to find everything I would need to create the sweaters I hoped to design. It took time, but as I started piecing together the puzzle and discovered so many amazing businesses with either a rich history of manufacturing or ranching, or a modern vision of sustainability, or both, I became more passionate about making every piece of the brand focus on ethical design and manufacturing practices. My sourcing research inspired the aesthetics of the brand and even though Tempest + Bentley’s a new brand, there’s a lot of history in the sweaters. I’ve learned so much about the history of U.S. manufacturing, textiles and farming through this process and I’m excited to continue my education and see what else I discover.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’ve always loved my dad’s, my brother’s and now my husband’s sweaters. I love androgynous fashion in general and especially knitwear. There’s nothing sexier than a natural woman in an oversized sweater to me. I like classic styles with details that make them modern and fresh. I love vintage pieces and I live very close to Haight Street, so I often pop in the vintage stores there. The yarn quality isn’t usually great and the fit and style is usually a bit off, but I often find a detail that I love that inspires. We’re also in the country quite often, Petaluma and Chico, and on the coast a lot too. Those environments inspire and natural beauty influence my designs.
Your studio is such a unique space. Tell us a little bit about it and what you enjoy about the space itself.
When I started Tempest + Bentley I was working from our home. The first year and half it was great, but as you can imagine, sweaters started filling our house and it was time to move on. I was very lucky to be introduced to my space in the Potrero District of San Francisco. It’s a big old warehouse and my neighbors are a range of creative individuals and businesses. There’s a start up coffee company, a 3-D printing business, wood workers and artists. I love the big windows, the natural light and the energy of the surrounding design community.
What’s been the most rewarding part of building your own line?
The people I’ve met, the community I’m now a part of. The fashion community, and especially the sustainable fashion and lifestyle community. I’ve been overwhelmed by how supportive people have been and continue to be as I launch the brand and figure out how to keep going. It’s also been amazing to see the collection come to life. To spend two years researching and working through the making of the sweaters and to see a finished collection. To be able to wear a Tempest + Bentley sweater and be proud of the efforts that were made to make it beautiful and ethical.
What are you most excited for in the coming year?
There’s so much more for me to learn and there are so many projects I want to work on. I hope to design a line of organic cotton sweaters very soon!
Being an expert in sweaters, give us an insider tip or trick on how to properly care for them.
There are a few things you can do to keep sweaters looking fresh and new. Always fold them nicely and store them in a dark clean environment so moths and pests don’t get to them. I store my sweaters with cedar blocks and lavender sachets which help keep pests away too. You don’t always need to wash the whole sweater, especially big chunky styles. Sometimes I just hand soak the cuffs and hem, as they seem to pick up dirt quicker or I’ll spot clean a bit. I use an environmentally friendly delicate hand wash. I’ve also discovered sweater shavers that get rid of pilling. There are a ton of great options out there. They’re a great tool for making a worn out sweater look new again.
As you find yourself in the frenzy of holiday shopping, consider the possibility of one special gift instead of gifts you’ll never use. One of these Tempest + Bentley sweaters will last for years to come. It’s at the top of my list this year!
Photos by Ali Hartwell