Echoview Fiber Mill is a spinning mill, knitting operation, and design house based in Weaverville, NC, just north of Asheville. Just across the street is the Echoview Farm, 86 acres of fiber animals, bees, dye plants and chickens.
The bucolic crafter’s dream is the brainchild of Julie Jensen, owner and founder of Echoview. The Mill just redesigned its on-site shop of clothing, home décor textiles, and, of course, yarn. The result is a shop not just for knitters, but for all lovers of handcrafted products. Walls showcase a rainbow of yarn while baskets offer up incredibly soft blankets. We talked to Julie to learn more.
Prior to Echoview, you worked in Washington DC at the Internal Revenue Service and the Congressional Research Fund. How did you transition from politics to farming and what lead you to create Echoview?
Well, really I didn’t transition from politics to farming – I grew up on a farm, so really I just transitioned back. I didn’t really have an Aha moment about starting Echoview Farm, I just missed living on a farm so I guess that is really what inspired me to get started. I love living closer to the land, and enjoy being in solitude, so the transition away from city living was a really positive one for me. I eventually started Echoview Fiber Mill as a way to give back to my community, both in the fiber arts world and the farming – it really is a testament to my values.
What has been your biggest challenge in starting your own business?
Finding the right balance of products, and finding the right team. We started out simply as a place where we would process fiber for small farmers, but ended up needing to shift to a more sustainable mix of doing our own product design and production. The change has been working for us, but it took some time to find the right product mix! In terms of our team, we are such a small group, everyone here needs to be able to wear multiple hats and be flexible enough to adapt to new projects – for some folks that just doesn’t feel good so we needed to put together a team of folks who were comfortable working in multiple directions.
You recently launched a new product that caught our eye. Tell us about the Knit Kit?
A Knit Kit is the full package for a knitter – it includes yarn, notions, and the pattern used to create a specific knitted accessory, garment, or home good. Often knitters will find a pattern they like, and then have to search for a yarn to match, or vice versa, so this sets them up with a pattern paired with a specific yarn to help take some of the guesswork out of starting your project. A good kit will tell you ahead of time if it is for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced knitter so that you are working within your comfort zone.
Why did you decide it was time for a shop redesign and what was your vision for the new space?
The shop was never really designed as meticulously as the rest of the building, and ended up having a dark feel that didn’t match up with the rest of our brand, or the building itself. We wanted something that would feel bright, open, and inviting so that we could really create more of a community atmosphere for craft. We host craft nights, knitting groups, and classes right here in the shop and in our classroom, and it feels just like sitting in the living room of a good friend.