When Tara Sfez first launched the Numero 74 brand of ethical, organic, consciously created clothing, it was born from the desire to help women in a Thai community that had helped her family during a difficult time. The label became an international success, and expanded into children’s toys, blankets and homewares and in 2018, opened its flagship store in Ibiza, Numero 74 L’Atelier, in the heart of the Santa Gertrudis village. The store – which serves as a café, retail boutique and creative workshop for islanders of all ages – is run with the same ethos as the label, from the healthy and organic local ingredients used in the kitchen and the sustainable collections in the store, all the way to supporting healing through creativity in its varied workshops.
When the effects of the 2020 crisis started to become apparent here in Ibiza, Tara – known to her friends and throughout the Ibiza community as Poupy – was passionate about keeping the Numero 74 L’Atelier dream alive, albeit on a streamlined, socially distanced manner. Now, more than ever, she believed the island’s visitors and residents needed healing through beautiful experiences more than ever. Over summer, the brand offered luxurious take-away picnics to enjoy safely in the campo or on the beach, in addition to providing workshops in homes, villas and hotels, small-scale bespoke events complete with styling and catering, plus the existing instore offerings. Now that the winter months have arrived, Tara has refocused her vision and created an all-new concept that’s filled with tidings of comfort and joy.
It all started last winter, when the Numero 74 L’Atelier team would come to work wearing their own black cardigans or jumpers over the signature, organic cotton uniforms created by the brand. Of course, they needed to keep warm while working – there was no doubt about that! – but Tara felt inspired to create some winter knits in keeping with the organic aesthetic, soft textiles and rich colour palettes the label was known for. An avid crochetier and experienced knitter, Tara set about designing patterns for a handmade mohair sweater and jumper her team could wrap themselves up in over the cooler months and created the first samples herself. Then, alongside team member and fellow knitting aficionado Anika, an entire staff uniform collection was handmade here in Ibiza.
It wasn’t long before Numero 74 L’Atelier customers began asking the team where they could get their hands on these stylish pieces. The chunky, cosy sweaters and oversized kimono wraps were oh-so-perfect for winter days spent lazing around the house, or as a snug layer to throw over your outfit when out and about on the island. This sparked an idea in Tara’s mind, however the onset of the island lockdown meant it would have to wait… until now. With the summer season done and dusted, and the seasonal chills kicking in, it’s time for the knitting needles to come out of storage and a new collection to be unveiled – one with a soul-warming touch that makes investing in winter warmers (for yourself or as gifts) all the more rewarding.
“When I opened Numero 74 L’Atelier, I had a dream to be able to produce something locally,” says Tara. “When I was visualising the struggles people on the island would be experiencing this winter, I thought it would be great if we could find women on the island who could knit for us – from their own homes – and create a source of income for them. I felt it was what was needed right now.” She placed a call out on Instagram, asking for knitters to come to Numero 74 L’Atelier and learn more about her new project, and has since built up a collective of around 15 local women, of all ages and from all backgrounds, who hand-knit the luxurious designs – now also including scarves, beanies, mittens and childrens pieces – that are then placed on sale in the boutique, and in the new Artisan e-shop on the brand’s website to ship around the world.
The women’s circle gathers every Saturday in the Numero 74 L’Atelier workshop, to submit the beautiful pieces they have poured their hearts into knitting throughout the week. Tara and her team invite the knitters to join them for lunch, and to share knowledge between them, and with any others who may want to learn to knit themselves. “It’s really beautiful,” says Tara. “I see so many positive things in this project. We can see and feel the love and happiness of these women through the products they make here in Ibiza – they are so proud, and that was part of the goal too, to create that mindset.” Each heart and handmade piece takes around one full day to produce, and comes with a label signed by the knitter so you know you’re purchasing an authentic product.
“The project is about transmission,” says Tara. “It means if someone on the island can’t afford to buy the finished project, they can enrol in the workshops at Numero 74 L’Atelier on a Saturday (25€ for two hours), and learn the basics, or if they already know the basics, they can learn to make the models we have. We also offer them a 20% discount on the wool in our shop, so they can create the same product at a much lower price. The workshops are open to everyone – you can come simply to learn and make your own, or you can keep learning until you are skilled enough to start producing in your own time and create a job for yourself. Some of the women we’ve met are super skilled and are already developing new patterns with us.’”
For Tara, this new initiative is the fruition of a long-term dream to support the local community and bridge the gap between the busy summer months and the long winter. “It’s a beautiful circle,” she says. “It will evolve. I hope to develop the concept further in the future, to encourage creativity and include things like crochet, ceramics and macrame.” The final piece of the puzzle of course, is that sales of the gorgeous knitwear – made from fluffy mohair or soft virgin and alpaca wool – go straight back into the local community. “The island is suffering right now, and this project is about supporting Ibiza,” Tara concludes. “With the new Numero 74 L’Atelier e-shop, we can also ship worldwide to those people who couldn’t come to the island this summer, or who love Ibiza and came in summer but are back home now and still want to support the place they love.” Just in time for Christmas…