Chain mail factory’s needs don’t always mesh with realities of rural Minn.

Published 6:18 am Saturday, January 26, 2019

By Dan Gunderson

MPR News/90.1 FM

In January 2012, Edie Ramstad started wrapping wire around a knitting needle and cutting the coil into rings with a small hand saw.

Email newsletter signup

She had recently married a northwest Minnesota farmer and moved from Arizona to a farm just outside Ada, Minn.

She was bored and not ready to retire. She had experience making the rings for a jewelry class she taught in Arizona. So she started making jump rings, tiny metal loops that are woven together without soldering or welding.

She figured she could make 2,000 rings a week. So the hobby became a side job.

“I did a business plan, and I figured that if we did it for about five years, we might make about $60,000 a year,” Ramstad said. “And for a part-time job, you know, that was all I really wanted to do. I was happy with that.”

Seven years later, her sales are well over $1 million a year. And Weave Got Maille has 16 employees, turning out about 2 million jump rings each day in a variety of metals from aluminum to titanium to 14-karat gold.

The company sells about 450,000 different products and is now the third-largest supplier of chain maille rings in the world.

Jump rings have been around for centuries. Medieval knights wore armor called chain mail — also spelled “chain maille” — made out of rings just big enough to slide over a pencil that had been woven together. The rings, which now come in many sizes and colors, are used by jewelry makers and craftspeople around the world to make everything from bracelets to neckties to colorful wall hangings.

The renewed interest in chain maille means more growth potential for Weave Got Maille. But that growth could be stymied by some uniquely small-town barriers.

Financing is one of them.

“When you go to a bank and you want money for financing, if it’s not for a combine or a tractor or land, they don’t know what to do with you,” said Ramstad.

Read the entire story here: