Have you had a light bulb moment for the next best thing for wool?
The Worshipful Company of Woolmen, one of the oldest livery companies in the City, and The Company of the Merchants of the Staple of England, a national livery company based in York run the annual Wool Innovation Prize with an award of £10,000, awarded to any individual who shows the most innovative use of wool, in any application, that is considered commercially viable and subject to the project being of sufficient originality and quality. The prize, supported by The Campaign for Wool, is now open for 2020 submissions, the deadline for entries is 30 June 2020, for more information visit Wool Innovation Prize
To promote the Wool Innovation Prize for 2020 we have met with Sarah from Little Beau Sheep to see how winning this prize in 2019 has developed their business.
“I won the Wool Innovation Prize last year. It was a great honour to receive this prestigious award in recognition of my work with British wool. Not only has it provided a financial boost to the business, allowing me to explore new working premises, but it has also raised the profile of the business and expanded my network to include experts within the wool industry. These contacts have been invaluable for growing this type of business and keeping on top of new innovations.
I was also appointed a mentor from the Wool Innovation Prize, with both business and industry experience. When you are the sole person responsible for your business it is extremely helpful to have someone to be accountable to. This makes it far more likely that you will achieve your goals. As a naturally creative person who shies away from the numbers I have also benefitted from being held to account on the finances. It is a safe space to bounce ideas around and learn from their experience”.
We also noticed you were featured on Countryfile… “Being featured on BBC Countryfile was amazing exposure for Little Beau Sheep. I was interviewed by Anita Rani about Laundry Balls and she had a go at felting her very own Hebridean sheep surrounded by the Hebridean sheep from which the wool had come from on Crowkeld Farm in Kildwick. We were very busy afterwards!”
What was the motivation for this business? “In a word: motherhood. With perfect timing, I was mum to two lovely little girls at the same time as being in the in the midst of a major house renovation. Long story short, we were living as a family in a compact and bijou flat whilst our house was undergoing major re-structuring. As any mum will tell you, laundry plays a large part in your life when little ones are on the go. Getting said laundry dry without a garden added to the task and I was forced into using a tumble dryer. In an effort to speed things up, I invested in off-the-shelf plastic dryer balls. Besides being unbearably noisy, they broke and just added to the world’s unwanted plastic problem. As an avid ‘felter’ I put my skills to work making a softer natural alternative using wool – and Little Beau Sheep was born : )”.
Why wool for dryer balls? “Wool is a miraculous natural material, renewable, sustainable and biodegradable, it also has hypoallergenic and antibacterial properties which makes them ideal to use as an alternative to plastic laundry balls”.
How do the wool dryer balls help? “The wool balls help in a number of ways..
- Circulate the air between the garments, to facilitate drying
- Massage the fabric surface for a fluffier finish
- Reduce creasing in the tumble dryer for easier or reduced ironing
- The natural lanolin content softens and smooths garments
- No need for expensive softeners that can leave annoying residues and artificial fragrance on garments”.
What is the plan for 2020, and the future? “Little Beau Sheep has big growth plans for the coming year, looking specifically to partner with wool clothing brands as their wool care provider. We will continue to champion British wool and sheep, supporting the Rare Breed Survival Trust ‘Love a Longwool’ campaign and The Campaign for Wool’s Wool Week with limited edition Laundry Balls.
Apply for Wool Innovation Prize 2020 here