It really doesn’t get more local than The General Bean! This family-owned needle felting company sources their wool from a Canadian mill just outside of the city. With handmade products like dryer balls, car diffusers, hand-knit goods and DIY felting kits, the business also offers virtual classes where you can try your own hand at felting!
The General Bean’s wool dryer balls and car diffuser clips have long been a staff favourite at The Apothecary. We carry both plain and patterned dryer balls in our refillery, with pastel, neutral, vibrant and patterned animal options. These hand felted wool balls can be added to your dryer to soften clothes, reduce drying time and eliminate static on natural fibers. That king size duvet that typically takes three cycles to dry? Adding 2-3 dryer balls to your load will prevent clumping and help your duvet dry more evenly, in less time!
The General Bean’s car diffuser clips also come in a number of adorable animal patterns, all guaranteed to bring you joy. We can honestly tell you that every Apothecary staff member with a car proudly displays their wool car diffuser clip on their dashboard! These clips gently release your favourite essential oils when placed in the warm air vent of your vehicle (we recommend our essential oil synergy blend Brain Boost for the daily commute).
To learn more about The General Bean’s commitments to environmental sustainability, we interviewed fiber artist Jamie Bowen. She is one half of family-owned The General Bean, alongside her husband Mike.
How long have you been felting and knitting for?
I’ve been knitting for about thirty years and needle felting for nine years. Mike picked up needle felting nine years ago as well. We started felting together.
When did you launch your company?
We launched our business in the spring of 2013.
What does supporting local mean to you?
For us, supporting local means knowing where your products are coming from, how they were made and with what carbon footprint. Our wool is all sourced within Western Canada and milled at a small mill an hour from our studio — we handcraft it all right here in Calgary. This is so important to us as we know what the carbon footprint is, we know how the animals and workers are treated, as well as the farmers. Keeping our wool local means the farmers get paid as well. As soon as wool is sold on the global market the farmers are lucky if they earn enough to pay for the shearing.
What is the most rewarding part of running your business?
The most rewarding part of our job is the fact we get to do something we love and get to do it together as a family.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
In the beginning (when Covid hit), it drastically impacted our business. We usually travel across the country to do trade shows, which was 50% of our income. But by not travelling, we have been able to build up another part of our business we had been wanting to but didn't have the time. Now, half of our business is teaching felting classes over Zoom to students all across Canada and creating kits and supplies. The other half is creating products for our wholesale partners.
How big is your team?
Currently just the two of us.
What is your favourite product to make?
We are having fun with our needle felting kits as we get to use a broader spectrum of our talents. Mike is also a photographer and graphic designer, so he gets to use those talents too.