We recently attended the grand opening of Shepherd’s Dream, a natural bed & bedding and home bedroom comforts store located in the railroad district of Ashland. I was quite impressed to learn about the local company, it’s owner and the hands on attention that goes into the creation of each of their locally made products. I also found it quite fascinating to learn that much of the wool being used comes from sheep grazing along the Oregon coastline. It’s hard to imagine the cold and gloomy climate being of much comfort, but when you envision that these elements have played an active role in becoming a part of your wool comforter or organic wool bed; now that sounds delightful. We stopped by the store to speak with owner Sarah Sunshine Smith to learn more about her business, it’s history and their grand opening and welcome to Ashland.
Sarah, thanks for talking with us today and thank you for bringing your store to Ashland! Can you give us a little history behind Shepherd’s Dream?
Yes, it is a dream come true to open up a showroom in Ashland. We have been wishing for this ever since we moved to Siskiyou County 10 years ago! We have always loved the community of Ashland, and have felt right at home with the level of consciousness and awareness in regards to healthy lifestyles and genuine kindness.
The history of Shepherd’s Dream is actually a long story, but I will keep it short. My mother, Eliana Jantz, started “Jantz Design” back in 1984 down in Sonoma County, CA when I was only 3 years old with an inspiration to offer natural, organic mattress and bedding alternatives in the Bay Area. This business grew to become the “Natural Bedroom” several years later which became a successful company offering a wide variety of natural Mattresses, bedding and furniture. Eventually, the company grew larger than Eliana wished and the company was sold to a business that still exists down in LA.
A few years later, when I was 15 years old, my mother and I created Shepherd’s Dream together. We decided at this time to focus primarily on the use of pure Wool as the main ingredient in our products due to the incredible benefits that wool has to offer. We started off with pillows, comforters, mattress toppers and eventually expanded to offering a 100% Pure Wool Mattress. We started off in a tiny apartment in Santa Rosa and quickly out grew the space as demand for these wonderful products increased. We moved from one location to the next trying to find a space that work for our needs but always found ourselves bursting at the seams. Soon, we came across as Shepherd by the name of Patrick Holland who was creating the most beautiful wool we had ever laid our eyes upon. Patrick had a sheep ranch up in the Shasta Valley of Siskiyou County, CA which inspired a visit. After experiencing the beauty and magnificence of the Mt. Shasta area and being introduced to the tiny railroad town of Montague, we decided to purchase a new “home” for Shepherd’s Dream in downtown Montague. By the Summer of 2002, we had packed up our lives and re-located to our new home in Montague.
Ever since, Shepherd’s Dream has continued to grow and expand, now occupying three buildings in downtown Montague, a Wool mill and warehouse, a production studio in Weed, CA and a new showroom in Ashland. Between Shepherd’s Dream and the Wool mill we are providing over 16 people with full time work. We are pleased to be bringing opportunity and enjoyment to people in our communities.
Can you give us a quick rundown of the products you are now providing?
We are currently offering our Shepherd’s Dream Wool Bed which includes a solid wood slatted frame with the option of latex padded slats, A Wool Mattress, Mattress Topper, Comforter, Mattress protector and Wool pillows. We are also offering a couple new mattresses, one is our own Organic Latex mattress and an Organic Innerspring mattress made by WJ Southard. We are selling a beautiful line of pure maple furniture and bed frames from Pacific Rim Woodworking out of Eugene as well as a line of Organic cotton sheets, blankets and towels made by Coyuchi.
We are looking forward to expanding to offer Wool clothing and other products that there is a demand for in this community.
Often times when customers buy an organic or wool bed they don’t have an opportunity to try it out. Can you talk a little bit about the opportunity we now have in Ashland in working with Shepherd’s Dream?
Yes, we are pleased to provide this opportunity to people who are looking for a new natural mattress to get to lay down on these beds before ordering. For years, we have been doing about 95% of our business online and shipping these mattresses and other bedding items to customers all over the country who don’t have the opportunity to try out the products before ordering. Luckily, we have had a great success rate with this, but it is certain that all people want to try out their new bed before making such a large investment.
These mattresses are designed to last anywhere from 20 to 40 years, so it is a great idea to lay down on one, close your eyes and really feel it out before purchasing.
We are also pleased to be offering free delivery to customers within 10 miles from our store in Ashland.
Tell us about one of your favorite products?
I love all our products and of course sleep on one of our bed systems at home, but to promote one product that I think everybody loves, I would have to go with our Wool Filled Comforter. Our wool filled comforters come in 3 different weights (winter, summer and all seasons) and 3 different sizes (single, double/queen and king). This product is amazingly soothing and comforting and can be used all year round. The wool is covered with a soft organic cotton sateen fabric and is tufted throughout so that the wool won’t shift around. One great benefit of wool, is that it will regulate your temperature keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. One reason why people like wool comforters more than down is due to the fact that wool will not make you over heat or feel clammy. Everybody loves a wool comforter!
You shared with me that your company puts a lot of time, attention, and love into each of the products you create. Can you tell us a little bit more the work and philosophy within the company?
To me, one of the most important things about creating anything is the energy that goes into it, especially when it comes to where you sleep. Of course, most beds that are available in the country are made by machines and often in countries where work environments are less than inspiring or fair. On the contrary, all of our products are made by real people with love. I personally make a good portion of our wool mattresses and I always put positive energy and thoughts in to the beds I make. It is always my wish for each product that we produce to bring great comfort and sweet dreams to everyone who gets to experience them. Part of making sure of this is to allow my employees enough time to produce items without feeling stressed or under pressure. What is most important to me is the quality of the product, not the quantity. I believe that the work environment that we create has a lot to do with how we feel when we work so it is always my goal to keep my work environments clean, with plenty of natural light and living plants. We are also committed to keeping our work spaces free from perfumes and other strong scents since many of our customers have chemical sensitivities.
Though I am not a fan of the cold and damp Oregon coast weather, I can get very excited about a nice warm wool comforter.
Our Eco Wool all comes from Oregon, primarily from the coast in and around Port Orford. The climate is perfect for sheep as the grass stays green nearly all year round and there is plenty of open land. The climate is quite cold, wet and windy, but the sheep love it and the Wool turns out beautiful! This is one of the wonderful qualities of wool; it helps to keep you comfortable in all climates and it dries super quickly when moisture gets into the bedding. Wool is the best!
Your company originally was created by your mother and you also now have a sister company of Shepherd’s Dream in Canada. Can you talk about what it has been like to grow up with one of the pioneers of the organic bedding movement, and how you are taking that spirit and inspiration forward today?
It has been a joy! Of course, my sleep experience has been wonderful for as long as I can remember and I have enjoyed being involved with my mother’s business in small and large ways along the way. It has definitely been a huge part of my life and a blessing to me in so many ways. I am grateful to be able to carry on what my mother has begun. It was truly her passion, something she believed in so much that it moved her to create a product line that was completely new in the USA. She established the “Pure Grow” Wool program for clean, sustainably produced wool in a time when “organic” wasn’t popular and located organic cotton when it was nearly nonexistent. Since I have been a part of this company for nearly all of my life, I care for it as if it were my child. I also understand the products so well from my own personal experiences and from my customer’s experiences over the years, that I have no problem helping my customers with all sorts of questions that arise.
Here is our company Philosophy:
As cottage industry bed makers, we believe in a cooperative work environment that encourages the unique skills of each individual. With dedication to the highest quality craftsmanship, we create unique wool mattresses, mattress toppers, comforters, pillows and bed frames while providing excellent customer service. As leaders in the natural bedding industry, we strive to demonstrate the use of proper materials, production techniques and lifestyle principles with commitment to sustainable industry practices.
Best customer feedback or success story you’ve heard recently?
We received so many testimonials that is hard to choose just one, but this is a nice one that we received recently. It is customer’s like this who inspire me to continue doing what I’m doing.
To: The ‘Shepherds Dream’ Team,
I wanted to take a quick moment and let you know how much I am appreciating the Wool Surround that I recently purchased. What a wonderful product. I didn’t really know what to expect when it arrived, though I had high hopes. I have to say it exceeded every expectation I had. It has transformed the quality of my sleep… from night one. Moreover, the products are beautiful, and the high level of care and craftsmanship is evident!
I am amazed that there isn’t more public information available regarding the value of wool for the creation of a healthy sleep environment, as well as for other purposes. I work for a foundation dedicated to educating people about well-being (Anthropedia Foundation) and we are developing a program to train individuals to become certified as “Well-Being Coaches”. We touch on many aspects of health and happiness through an integrative approach, and sleep is one of many subjects covered. In short, I am already engaging our curriculum developers about my experience with you products and I hope we can do our part to educate people about the benefits of wool bedding products! I’ve already convinced two colleagues/friends to get the wool surround for themselves!
Please pardon the effusive nature of this email, it’s just that I am really enthusiastic about how much your products are helping me sleep. I have spent many years trying to find solutions to my sleeping issues, and I would have never guessed the answer was so simple!!
Thank you very much!
Let’s talk about health and sleep benefits of wool?
Wool is truly amazing. Some of the greatest benefits are:
• Relieves back pain, arthritis and pressure points
• Calms the body and lowers the heart rate for deeper sleep
• Naturally dust mites bed bug resistant
• Breathable and a temperature regulator
• Biodegradable and healthy for our planet
• Free of all chemicals and flame retardants
How about for children?
Organic Mattresses and bedding are ideal for children. Since children are so pure and susceptible to illnesses, it is best for them to sleep on organic beds that are free from chemicals and flame retardants. Many people don’t realize that all conventional mattresses are dosed with harmful flame retardants and that these chemicals lead to many health problems. Wool is naturally flame resistant and has passed all the flame tests with flying colors without any chemicals added! All of the mattresses we sell are free of chemicals since they have wool inside of them to resist fire.
Besides this, wool also helps to calm the body which helps babies to sleep more soundly all through the night.
Obviously organic and natural beds can cost more simply due to the sheer amount of care and attention that has gone into creating them.
What is the typical life span of your products and long term benefits?
Our mattresses will last between 20 and 40 years depending upon how they are cared for. It is important to follow our care instructions to ensure this type of longevity, but these mattresses are designed to last a long time. There is clearly a problem with the amount of synthetic and plastic products that are being produced today. There really isn’t room for all of the waste on our planet and the manufacturing of these synthetic materials are contributing to Global warming. When purchasing products like these, you are supporting an industry that is sustainable and healthy for the planet and the people. And of course, your quality of sleep will be so great that your quality of life is due to be enhanced as well.
Can you tell us a little bit about your team of employees who help you create and run Shepherd’s Dream?
I have a team of 9 employees, all who play an important role in the operations and success of Shepherd’s Dream. Our production facility is located in Montague and is ran by my operations manager. She is supported by several seamstresses, pillow makers, mattress topper makers and office personnel. I am the manager of the mattress production team and pleased to be expanding in this area due to a growing demand for our beautiful, hand crafted mattresses. The 3 ladies who run the Ashland showroom are pleased to be here and ready to help any customer who walks through the door. My husband owns the Woolgatherer Carding Mill where all of our wool is produced and is joined by a team of 10 exceptional employees.
Is it possible to sleep in a wool bed keep you cool during the summer time?
Yes, people find it hard to believe, but wool will keep you cool and comfortable during the summer time. This is one of those amazing qualities of wool that makes it so lovable!
You also host a very extensive website that people can order from all around the world.
Our website, www.shepherdsdream.com is a fully functional website with a shopping cart so people all over the country can order products day or night. You will find a tremendous amount of information on our website including more details on the benefits of wool, our story, the Woolgatherer Carding mill and the materials we use.
Finally with all the details your company focuses on to create your products What might be something that we would never think of that your company has gone out of the way to take care of?
We do all that we can to support a healthy and sustainable planet. We believe that the only way to change our reality is to make the change ourselves in the way that we live and work. We recycle everything we possibly can, we don’t’ have to burn fossil fuels to get our wool to our workshops since it is all in the same town, we use all recycled and natural bathroom and kitchen products and we support our local farmers by eating local, organic foods whenever possible. We respect this beautiful earth that we live upon and do all that we can to neutralize our carbon footprint.
Any last words for our readers?
Thank you for welcoming us so warmly into this sweet town. We feel truly honored to be here and we are overjoyed by the kind, loving customers we have met so far. We hope that you will take the time to stop by our store and try out one of our beds. We do all that we can to create a calm and relaxing environment where you can kick of your shoes, lay back, close your eyes and take a nice deep breath as you melt away into a comforting, organic bed. You deserve to sleep your natural best!
629 A St.
Ashland, OR 97520