ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Before the inauguration, we knew who the famous people in the crowd would be. And after the inauguration, a few inanimate objects had become famous, too, like Lady Gaga's big gold brooch and a certain pair of mittens. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wore them - woolly things in brown and cream. And by the end of the day, the Bernie Sanders mitten memes outnumbered executive orders from the White House. The mittens were made by Jen Ellis, a second-grade teacher in Vermont who joins us now.
JEN ELLIS: Hi.
SHAPIRO: What have the last 24 hours been like for you?
ELLIS: They've definitely been crazy. My Gmail account has completely filled up, and lots of people are sending me text messages and calling me. And so that's been very sweet. But I've tried really hard not to let it overshadow the amazing historic event from yesterday and just how wonderful it was to watch a woman be inaugurated as vice president and just to see this positive change in power. And all of that's been wonderful.
SHAPIRO: You tweeted that these were a gift to Senator Sanders a few years ago. How did you end up giving him a pair of mittens as a gift?
ELLIS: Well, his daughter-in-law owns the preschool where my daughter attended. And so I was making mittens...
ELLIS: ...For my daughter's teachers. And I just made an extra pair for Bernie because I like him and because I was sad that he didn't win the Democratic nomination. And this was back in 2016. So you see the mittens have held up...
ELLIS: ...For a few years.
SHAPIRO: Did you have any idea he would wear them so religiously? I mean, he has been spotted in them at several high-profile events.
ELLIS: I had absolutely no idea. I mean, this actually started about a year ago when he was wearing them on the campaign trail. And so there was some Twitter buzz then.
ELLIS: At the core of it, like, I'm still a public school teacher, and I'm very dedicated to that job.
SHAPIRO: Oh, yeah.
ELLIS: And so I'm not going to stop doing this job that I love that brings me great joy to pursue this other thing as a business. But I'm so excited that he likes the mittens and he wants to wear them. They are practical and warm, and they look nice. And yeah, I had no idea that they would - that this is what would happen.
SHAPIRO: Now, Vogue is talking about these mittens in the same paragraph as, like, haute couture fashion houses that designed inaugural outfits.
SHAPIRO: So how does it feel to be mentioned alongside designers who have runway shows in Paris?
ELLIS: I think that's lovely. I mean, I'm not really - I'm not very starstruck by fashion. I mean, I'm just sort of a normal-looking person. And I think that it's really great that Bernie wore something that is accessible to normal people, right? People can't afford those lovely outfits that everybody else wore, although they were nice to look at. It was nice to have a little piece of reality, you know, and of normal people in such a prominent event.
SHAPIRO: Now, as we said, your full-time job is as a second-grade teacher. And so do you think this burst of fame is going to make your students relate to you differently?
ELLIS: Well, a lot of them came in talking about it today, and I showed them a couple of little local clips from our local news people who had covered me last - yesterday. And they thought it was cool, you know, and I don't think that they'll view me any differently in the end. I still was, like, bundling them up in snow pants and their own mittens and sending them out into the snowy day for recess just, like, half an hour ago. So...
SHAPIRO: Jen Ellis made the now-famous mittens that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wore to the Biden-Harris inauguration yesterday.
Thanks for talking with us and congratulations on your newfound fame.
ELLIS: Thank you so much.
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