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Shark Tank funds senior purse-knitters with an unusual production model

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What a great idea, hiring seniors from a retirement community to make hand-knit purses! Bravo to all!

Yay Purlettes! Makes me want to buy one of her purses!

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Buy a Sarah Oliver handbag:

And you're right, what a great way to increase production by employing retirees.

"When I needed to increase the production, I went to the retirement home," Oliver says Friday outside the Mill Valley Tennis Club as her husband, Mark, fusses with a red carpet runner purchased off Amazon.

That retirement home is the Redwoods, a nonprofit senior residential community in Mill Valley where she had been spending time. About a dozen of the production facility's residents begin arriving at the club. 

A man and woman in walkers are the first to approach the red carpet. They move toward the flashes of a professional photographer as friends and family of Oliver cheer. A stream of fellow purlettes, most of them women, follow, grinning. 

"I need to get your autograph," a woman's voice calls from the edge of the red carpet as the knitters make their way inside. "Can I get your autograph?"

There is wooting, and some laughing, and some strutting. "Estellllle," a woman calls, drawing out the name of purlette Estelle Leopold as the 86-year-old steps off the red carpet into the tennis club. 

Inside, Leopold explains how she started knitting for Sarah Oliver Handbags about 18 months ago after losing her Long Island home of more than 50 years to Hurricane Sandy and moving to Marin County to live closer to family. She was at her new home, the Redwoods, looking at the activities board. Knitting was an obvious fit—Leopold had picked up the craft as a child. "I thought it was a great idea," she says.

It takes her a day to make a bag or—"if I stop or something or I have to go to the doctor, maybe a day and a half."

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