How this little sheep went to market…
Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. And in many ways, that was certainly the case with LITTLE BEAU SHEEP. The seed of an idea came about when in new and changed circumstances, opportunity popped up and said ‘hello’ at a most unexpected time…
New mum, new direction
It was back in 2011 and my first baby had just arrived. Until this point, I’d been working in a fast-paced corporate role for a global bank. I was pretty used to plate-spinning and thought ‘how hard can it be?’
That was when one of several things happened: first up, I started to want a little more flexibility with my time, so I could enjoy the new arrival in my life. Now although I loved my job, it was pretty much all-consuming, which meant a return to corporate life seemed a little unlikely.
An itch starts
Then my little bundle of joy developed a dry and itchy skin condition (ouch) which meant finding the best and most natural treatment I could, as I didn’t want any chemicals around something so pure (hey, I was a new mum, cut me some slack ?).
On top of all this, my husband and I thought ‘what better time to renovate the house?’ Which meant all of us living in a small flat until the work was done. And by this time, dear reader, baby number two had made her way onto the scene.
So there I am, up to my eyes in baby-laundry, the tumble dryer on 24/7 and two extra little people to love and look after. Living the dream!
Lanolin to the rescue
By this time, I’d worked out that the most effective thing for my baby’s skin was lanolin. It worked the best out of any of the treatments I’d tried and was totally natural. Whilst I knew lanolin was a natural by-product of wool, I didn’t realise it had some quite so many uses and a history that went all the way back to ancient Greece! But it set me thinking…
Balls to tumble drying
Next, I started to feel guilty about the tumble dryer and its eco-unfriendliness. I’d tried using plastic dryer balls to speed up the process, but the noise in a small flat was too much to bear. There had to be a better more sustainable way of doing things, surely?
Around the same time, I was learning the fine and noble art of felting on a local make and sell craft course. I live in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, so my creations reflected the surrounding scenery – namely sheep. Seriously, it’s sheep central here.
You can probably see where I’m going with this. I knew lanolin had softening properties and I was already making soft fluffy round sheep. Hmmm…the first dryer balls were born.
Sisters doing it for themselves!
Early support came from the Women’s Institute, who I can’t say enough good things about. If you have a branch near you I heartily recommend you go and join up, make friends and do good stuff.
After that I did events of all kinds – from farming shows to church halls – as well as setting up my own Etsy shop. People seemed to like what I was doing, not just in the UK but around the world. Everyone it seems has a soft spot for sheep – and who can blame them.
I extended the range beyond my dryer balls into all things sheepy, including more laundry products and natural bathroom treats. All of which means I need more than one pair of hands. So with the help of other crafty mums, the definition of kitchen table talent, we’re taking LITTLE BEAU SHEEP to the next level!
Flying the flag for British Wool
Whatever happens, one thing will stay the same: I’ll be flying the flag for British wool as both a proud supporter of the Rare Breed Survival Trust and The Campaign for Wool. Described as ‘a miraculous material’ by none less than Prince Charles, British wool has an amazing history, especially here in Yorkshire. In fact, did you know there are only two wool scourers left in England, both of which are in God’s Own Country?
Maybe it was living in the shadow of Salts Mill? Or the fact that we are surrounded by the Victorian legacy of the once booming textile industry in these parts that got under my skin, but in my own way I’d like to think I’m carrying on a truly grand tradition.
I really hope you’ll join me on the rest of the journey…