Julie Jensen is an entrepreneurial genius with a heart for America and sustainable farming. She found a way to create manufacturing here in the USA to support American jobs. After many years working as a tax lawyer in Washington DC, she decided to leave her job. She moved south and bought 27 acres of land just north of Asheville, North Carolina.
Soon, Julie was inspired to build a textile mill on her property, fittingly located in a town called Weaverville. After taking a class on community mills, she felt called to make a positive difference and help local tobacco farmers find an alternative source of income.
“I wanted to find an industry which could give a value-added product for local farmers,” says Julie, who turned to the business of processing animal fiber. Echoview Fiber Mill opened for business in 2012 with a 17,000-square-foot facility. The farm is now 75 acres and the mill makes market-ready products in addition to processing fiber from animals.
Sustainable, Renewable Fibers Feel & Look So Good
“The animals at Echoview (sheep, alpaca, llama and Angora goats) get to be themselves and provide us with joy and entertainment throughout the year.” The fiber processing business helps small farmers who do not have the time or equipment to carry out this task.
“The farmers bring their animals’ fiber to the mill after shearing and can choose how they would like that fiber processed,” says Julie. Some farmers, for instance, choose that the fiber to be turned into roving, so they can spin it themselves. Others may want the fiber to be turned into yarn.
The Cutest Workers at Echoview
Native to the Andes Mountains of South America, alpacas are prized for their luxurious coats and are sheared once a year. The adorable Angora goats, native to Turkey, produce the soft fiber known as mohair. The fiber from these animals goes into beautiful alpaca shawls, baby blankets, scarves, socks and incredible yarns of every color and texture, all made with the finest craftsmanship.
Echoview is also passionate about their bees and is educating others about the importance of them for agriculture. You can buy their honey online or in their retail store. They also grow hops on the farm and sell it to local brewers that microbrew beer. The area is known for their craft beer scene, with Asheville having more breweries per capita than any other US city.
ALL American Made
From the raw fiber to the honey products, everything at Echoview is American made. Julie’s goal is to celebrate the American spirit of handiwork and expression so that customers can feel good about their purchases. She says her business model is similar to that of American Apparel with its sustainable and ethical manufacturing practices. As the first LEED Gold certified manufacturing mill in the country, the mill has 196 solar panels on the roof that produce nearly half the consumed electricity during summer months!
The price of using American-grown fiber is higher than using imported materials, but 95% of their products are made from USA fiber. They are a Living Wage certified mill because they believe in supporting jobs in America. Innovation and artistic collaborations are two concepts they believe can help American manufacturers survive in the marketplace today, supporting other American companies by purchasing their products.
Eco-Friendly Products & Packaging
Echoview’s most popular item is their Handmade Wool Dryer Balls which you can purchase at Whole Foods Market and Earthfare Markets in the Southeast, and in boutiques across the country.
Nashville Wraps is so honored to have Echoview as a customer. After searching online for “eco-friendly packaging,” they found Nashville Wraps’ Green Way brand. “We love the beautiful packaging and the wide variety of products available to us that are truly eco-friendly,” says Dianne Kepley, Business & Community Development Manager for Echoview. “It is very important to Echoview that the packaging we use is pretty but also helps reduce our carbon footprint.”
Tour the Farm & Factory!
Echoview welcomes new wholesalers to their family of customers if you would like to carry their products in your store. Factory Tours of the fiber mill processing facility are free and start at 1 pm every Tuesday or by appointment. You can meet their prized alpacas on their Farm Tours. If you are in the Asheville area, I hope you will stop by and see this brilliant American success story for yourself!
See the beautiful Echoview farm and mill in this short video: