Most of the 19 women from the tsunami-hit city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, who work for Tamako Mitarai's knitwear company had no professional experience as knitters.

It may not sound like an impressive operation, but the 28-year-old president paints a lofty vision for them: to make products that fans seek out like high-priced boutique items that can be worn for the rest of their lives.

Kesennuma Knitting Co., founded last June, has attracted attention for its approach to helping rebuild one of the areas hit worst by the Great East Japan Earthquake: Put down roots in the region and create jobs for those affected.