Before they were ever business partners, Schaetzie Engel and Erin Miller were friends.
The duo met through a mutual friend in the outdoor community and were friends for years before they started thinking about turning Miller’s passion for knitting and felting into a business.
Miller has been knitting for over 20 years, something that she picked up from her grandmother. After seven years of friendship, the pair decided to combine Engle’s knowledge of business and Miller’s passion for fiber arts into the Broomfield-based Nerdy Sheep Fiber Arts.
They seek to maintain their passion in their business through a set of ground rules that they revisit every quarter, one of which is good coffee.
Through all of their goals and all of their growth over the years, Engle and Miller hope to keep Nerdy Sheep Fiber Works as passion-driven as possible.
“I don’t want us to ever lose that uniqueness… It doesn’t bother me when Erin and I are working in the studio until almost 11 at night on a weekday and I still have to get up at 5 in the morning. It’s still fun,” Engel said .
Nerdy Sheep Fiber Works is an eco-friendly local fiber business that specializes in creating hand-felted yarns from wool sheared by Engle and Miller.
“It’s not just about the products, it’s also about wanting the people to know Erin and I, too. That’s all part of the business, right? People are gonna connect with us,” Engel said.
With their wool they create a variety of different products including dish cloths, dryer balls and even felted soaps.
Currently, Nerdy Sheep uses other mills to process their personally-sheered wool so that they are able to create their products, but within the next couple of years, they are looking to expand and purchase their own mill for fiber processing.
“The long term plan with that mill is that we get it up to a sustainable production, an efficient production, where we can hire employees and really pay them a living wage so they aren’t having to work other jobs plus ours,” said Engel.
Nerdy Sheep plans to run their mill with a minimized carbon footprint in mind through trying to use all scraps by putting them to use in other projects. Currently, the mill that they would like to take over produces only one bag of trash for the 4,000 square-foot layout, something that they would like to continue.
“We will always have a carbon footprint which is a reality of processing natural fibers, but we’re always looking at where we can be more efficient,” Engel said.
As they expand, Nerdy Sheep would also like to incorporate teaching elements into their business. Such elements include school field trips to their mill where they can show kids how yarn is made, as well as felting and dyeing classes.
Nerdy Sheep is also very focused on how they affect the community that they operate in. They want their business to bring together people in the community through the passion that surrounds fiber arts, as well as the passion for sustainability. Their goals revolve around people and positive connections within the community.
The key values for Nerdy Sheep include being kind to people and working and collaborating with people, local organizations and art markets, Miller said.
Currently, Nerdy Sheep sells their products on their website, nerdysheepfiberworks.com, as well as around Broomfield at different markets and festivals.
Engel and Miller will also soon be taking over the fiber shed community group in Colorado. The fiber shed movement seeks to develop land regenerating natural fiber and dye systems in order to benefit local manufacturers and produce clothing in more sustainable ways. Engel and Miller said they hope to expand the movement in Colorado.
“It emphasizes working with local regenerative agriculture and farmers to create a local fiber economy,” said Miller.