Collaboration with Little Beau Sheep
Knitwear doesn’t have to be washed often; I only wash mine once or twice a year unless I spill my coffee, as I am a little clumsy. Also, hanging around with little kids taught me that spot-washing is key!
Where are you based: In Ilkley, just outside of Leeds in West Yorkshire.
Date founded the business: 2015
What was the spark that inspired your business?
We moved our young family into a small top-floor flat while we renovated our house and I found myself elbow-deep in washing with no outside drying space so I became dependent on the tumble dyer. To speed up the process I invested in plastic spikes dryer balls but the noise was unbearable (and I was introducing more plastic into the world). It was the sheep that I could see grazing on Ilkley Moor that inspired the products, I started to make laundry dryer balls out of wool instead and to look like the different breeds of sheep that the wool had come from and Little Beau Sheep was born!
How many people do you hire?
Little Beau Sheep now has a new apprentice!
What is your favourite piece in your collection?
The Collector’s Edition all the different little faces make me smile and I love to hear all the different ways that customer put them to use.
What is your favourite sheep breed?
Swaledale (these are the ones that I could see on Ilkley Moor)
What’s your favourite thing about wool?
Wool fibres are cloaked in scales, like the slates on a roof. This allows it to repel water and dirt but at the same time allow it to be one of the most water-loving of all fibres, capable of holding as much as 40% atmospheric water vapour between the scales without feeling wet to the touch (which is one of the reasons they make such great laundry balls). Air also gets trapped between the scales slowing down the transfer of heat keeping you cool on a warm day and cosy on a chilly day – it really is magic!
Top tips to keeping woollen products long lasting?
Due to its structure wool repels water and dirt. It also wicks away sweat, releasing it to the atmosphere before it has a chance to develop an unpleasant odour. For these reasons wool does not alway need to be washed after every wear. Instead it can be aired and/or spritzed with a linen spray between wears. It also pays to invest in a good clothes brush. When it is time for a wash, use a lanolin-enriched laundry detergent to condition the fibres and replace the natural lanolin that is gradually lost over time.
What has been your proudest moment since you founded your business?
Little Beau Sheep has come a long way since our humble beginnings, from appearing on BBC Countryfile (and showing Anita Rani how to needle-felt a laundry ball whilst surrounded by the sheep that the wool had come from to make them) to winning the Innovation in Wool Award and delivering the TEDx Talk on Wool as a Magical Material. I am passionate about wool, a Campaign for Wool supporter, corporate supporter of the Rare Breed Survival Trust, British Wool licensee and this month I will be clothed as a Liveryman inThe Worshipful Company of Woolmen.
What did you do before you started your business?
Before entering the wonderful woolly world of Little Beau Sheep, I was Marketing Manager at HSBC. The role gave me a fantastic insight into how business works and getting your product to market. Swapping finance for fleeces allowed me to channel all the good stuff I’d learned into doing my own thing on my own terms.
What’s your best piece of advice to share with small business founders?
For those looking to start out – Just do it! If you have an idea for a business, give it a go. Don’t wait for perfection, just get the idea out there and test it on a limited budget to see how it works. Then refine it as you go – otherwise you may never do it and you’ll never know.
Would you like to share any exciting launches or Christmas spotlights on your products?
We will be launching this year’s gift sets in a “Countdown to Christmas” on Instagram with the theme “Go Green for Black Friday”. Our Rudolph Laundry Ball has also returned for 2022 with the Pine Needle Laundry Fragrance for that fresh Christmas tree smell to get you in the festive mood!
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