Washington C.H.—Julie Carter started her business in an unconventional way: by turning alpaca fleece into balls.
“My parents have an alpaca farm so I started out by making dryer balls. Dryer balls are unique—you don’t see them very often,” said Carter.
What exactly are dryer balls and what do they do?
“Dryer balls are wool and alpaca felted fiber and take the place of your static sheet and fabric softener,” Carter said.
Carter’s parents’ farm is in Ball Ground, Ga. “PrettyPac Alpacas” raises anywhere from eight-12 alpacas and it’s where, since 2011, Carter has been getting the alpaca fiber to make her dryer balls. She said she also sources alpaca fiber from an alpaca farm in Washington C.H. Felting wool and fiber is an ancient practice pre-dating even Roman times, but Carter gives it a conventional purpose.
“How it works is that it moves your clothes around in the dryer so the heat gets distributed better so they dry faster. That beating works as the softener. The wool naturally absorbs static. My drying time has decreased a lot—dryer balls reduce your drying time up to approximately 35 percent,” said Carter. “It saves money, energy, and is all-natural.”
Dryer balls can last a family for up to three years or more, according to Carter.
Carter’s dryer balls eventually led her into creating a full line of natural bath and body products. Her business, L&L Natural Products, now carries over 15 items and is able to customize most items with one of 30 fragrances. To maintain the high quality of the products, Carter makes small batches in her home.
“I don’t make hundreds of jars of lotion at a time,” Carter said.
Take a look at Carter’s farmer’s market booth and you’ll see everything from laundry detergent to bug spray and body scrub.
“I started out selling at the farmer’s market at the corner of East East Street and Main Street across from the BMV. I’m going to try to be there every other week or once a month this year. I have gradually grown into other events,” Carter said.
L&L Natural Products will be one of many vendors featured this year at the Toast to Summer & Hot Air Balloon Glow hosted at the Fayette County Airport. The event, taking place Saturday, June 25, will feature a wine tasting, hot air balloon rides, food, music, and craft vendors, according to the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce.
Most of L&L Natural Products cost less than $7, including powdered and liquid laundry detergents.
“They are 32 loads for five dollars, either liquid or powder. They come unscented, but I do scented by request,” Carter said. Of the 30 natural fragrances she offers, she says the most popular are lavender, coconut, and honey blossom.
Carter was asked what her most popular product has been and she said it’s the bug repellent.
“It’s witch hazel based and has citronella, rosemary, lemongrass, and tea tree essential oil. It also works on dogs for ticks and fleas. It works for children, too. We use it on our family. It probably lasts through the year for a family of four. It doesn’t have any DEET. There is a Yale study that says DEET kills brain cells,” said Carter.
Individually, the essential oils are bug repellent, but they work together to be more powerful, said Carter.
“I use essential oils for the fragrances,” Carter said. “Your skin is an organ and it needs to be taken care of like the rest of your body. All of my products are very gentle for all skin types.”
Julie Carter can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at L&L Natural Products.
Reach Ashley Bunton at the Record-Herald (740) 335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton