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About The Mouse Works


 A Brief History of The Mouse Works
The Mouse Works operates on the belief that small is beautiful.  My name is Ryan Williamson.  I am the sole creator of unique hand-made fleece clothing.  I was raised and homeschooled on a remote mountain homestead in West Virginia as the son of a
wood- turner and a teacher.   Being self-sufficient was necessary on the homestead where so many things were handmade.  I learned to love the artisan tradition of creating things for myself and for others.  The Mouse Works started out of my desire for a jester hat in 1994.   I was a 14 year old with a big head and none of the hats in the stores fit me.    In an effort to stop my complaining, my father gave me a quick sewing lesson and let me cut up the bottoms of several fleece blankets.    At the end of a full day of experimenting I had my first jester hat which I proudly wore to highshcool the following morning.   A friend who was an avid cross-country runner asked if he could buy it to wear at practice, and thus clicked the entrepreneurial switch in my young brain.    The Mouse Works quickly expanded to many different styles and became profitable enough to support buying outdoor gear and funding summer long distance backpacking trips.  Four years later I ran the company out of my dorm room to pay my college tuition bills.   After graduation in 2001 I relocated the business back to Virginia to a small rural house that was ironically used as a clothing bureau in the 1910-30s.  In 2006 I built a studio-house near Charlottesville, Virginia that is the current Mouse Works home.
Click Here to see how a hat is made

The room of raw fleece that the big factories can't use. 
Click on photo to read more about the recycling mice.

My sewing machine has a good view.

Many nights I sleep outside on a bed set up under a tarp. 

Here is the sleeping tarp in the winter without the summer bug netting

One of my fathers bowls.
Click on image to visit his website

Dorm Room Sewing Factory
|at Bates College 2001.  Click on image to read more about the dorm room business.


Fuel efficient raw fleece transportation
 in Maine, 2001.

The Gauley River.  The Mice like to boat too. 

The business name is a natural extension of my Appalachian Trail name “Timothy Mouse.”    The Mouse Works grew out of a love for the outdoors and has helped me stay rooted in the mountains.   I spend a few months each year on a trip. So far my travels have taken me over 10,000 miles of trail including the Appalachian trail 2 ½ times, the Long Trail and ¾ of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Allegheny trail. I also have gotten into long-distance kayak trips lately. I have gone on three trips floating down the entire New/Kanawha Rivers, the Grand Canyon, and the James River from it's headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay.  To see photographs of these trips please visit the Adventures of the Mouse page on this site.  Since 1996 I have chosen to sleep mostly outside.  Yep I don't sleep in my own house much.  I love to wake up to the birds and fresh air.  I feel that this keeps me grounded (almost literally) to what is important in life.    I also spend an immense amount of time gardening around the place.  

Camping on the PCT in Oregon.
Click to see more hiking photos

My Studio House

I used to have to sort all of my hats outside at the beginning of the fall season.  Now I can do it inside my new workshop

Unique Business Practices

The foundation of The Mouse Works is rooted deep in this lifestyle and is shaped by its values. 

· I believe that unique handmade quality is desirable over brand name recognition.  No label is permanently attached to the outside of my creations in a small effort to counteract the logo-saturated market.  

· Mostly recycled. All of my products are hand cut from factory castoffs.   Some of the fabric is also recycled from plastic bottles.

· All of my scraps are recycled into hat parts, patchwork clothing, tassels, or pillow stuffing. 

  Click here to read more about my environmental commitments

The Mouse Works seconds getting a happy reception at a Tibetan children's orphanage in the mountains of India. Video by Harold W Sherman who was awesome enough to deliver the donations.


Green Giants
By Jedd Ferris
Blue Ridge Outdoors July 2006
Photos by
McNair Evens
Ryan Williamson

Ryan Williamson lives the life we all dream about. He’s an affable granola kid that’s actually turned his ideals and simple upbringing into an unconventional modern lifestyle. He lives at the base of a mountain near Shenandoah National Park. He puts aside months of the year to spend on trails. And he makes a living through his own eco-friendly business—Mouse Works, a unique brand of hand-made recycled fleece hats and clothing that he makes from home. 

Williamson grew up on a remote mountain homestead in West Virginia as the son of a wood-turner. Being self-sufficient was necessary during a youth that included rigorous travel to craft shows. He learned to love the artisan tradition and at a young age he sewed his first hat. Proudly he wore it to school, and classmates were immediately impressed, asking him if he had any for sale. Soon he was slinging them out of a garbage bag in the high school hallway.  

After college in Maine and two complete hikes of the Appalachian Trail, Williamson decided to make his craft a full-time business. The company name comes from his trail name Timothy Mouse.

“At first it was just a way for me to buy backpacking gear,” says Williamson. “Running a small business isn’t easy, but to me this came naturally.”

He hand makes the fleece gear that he sells out of “double recycled” fleece, meaning he uses the scraps that are only going to be discarded from factories. Although he may not always get the colors of his choice, buying recycled fleece drastically reduces his production costs and preserves even more energy than virgin fleece made from recycled soda bottles. 

“From square one I’ve tried to keep my impact as low as possible,” he says. “If I can take what can’t be used, I think it’s far more environmentally friendly. I don’t buy virgin fleece even if I have to turn down orders for certain colors.” 

The products have caught on and are being sold in outfitters all over the Blue Ridge region and as far away as Montana. But to sustain his income as a one-man operation, Williamson also has to travel to craft shows every weekend from September through December.

“It takes a lot of long term planning and discipline, since most of my cash for the year comes in over four months,” he says. “But I wasn’t meant to work a normal job. Being able to walk out for a hike whenever I want makes it all worth it.” 

Recent Media Coverage of The Mouse Works
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