We came to North Wales nearly 20 years ago and bought a traditional hill sheep and cattle farm in the Snowdonia National Park. The farm is only 60 acres and it wasn’t big enough to make a living so we have always had to diversify. As my wife and I are experienced outdoor instructors our first venture was a small but successful adventure activity company. We then did the usual farm thing of converting 4 barns into self catering units. Then in 2009 having reached the official retirement age I decided to hand over my mountaineering boots to some younger people in the village and concentrate on the farm. But we still needed another income to replace the adventure activities.
On May 4th 2009 (a date seared into my brain) at 7:30pm we set out by car to visit a very close friend who lived in Harlech, just 4 miles away, a trip of perhaps 15 minutes when I had a Road to Damascus moment.
Lesley said, “Come on then what do you want to do next?”
“I really don’t know,” I replied, “but it will probably have to be something to do with wool because wool has no value."
Then I was suddenly hit by a bolt of lightening on my Damascus road. “Let’s reinvent the wool blanket,” I blurted out.
“What kind of wool blanket?” asked my wife.
“Oh I don’t know.” I replied. But then added, “Let’s stuff wool into a duvet."
“What?” she said, “You can’t stuff wool into a duvet and if you could no one would buy it because wool sounds heavy, itchy, and old fashioned like your grannies blanket.”
Just at that moment the same bolt of lightning came round for a second time and hit Lesley squarely between the eyes and she blurted out, “But if you can stuff wool into a duvet we would have to call it something else… We’ll have to call it a Baa...vet!”
We arrived at our friend’s house and eagerly told them our idea and they thought it was fantastic. And so the Baavet was born. All we had to do now was to get someone to make one. That should be easy.... And that was our first mistake.
As no one we spoke to had ever heard of a wool duvet I thought I had reinvented the wheel but my son, who is big into computers, quickly found that they made wool duvets in New Zealand. I was a little down hearted at first to find that my idea wasn’t original but at least the technology for making them obviously existed.
Full of naive enthusiasm our first port of call for help was the British Wool Marketing Board, they didn’t know of anyone that could make one for us but they gave us some very useful contacts like the Wool Testing Authority who were very helpful in tracking down the best British wools to use for a duvet as not all wools are right for the job.
After several months searching it became obvious that there was no one in the UK that could manufacture our Baavets.
But eventually via numerous leads we arrived at the factory of David, in Huddersfield, who had one of the few remaining wool carding lines left in the UK that could card wool (combing the wool) to the width we required. Although David is well beyond retirement age himself he still loves a challenge so he was keen to help us develop the product. But he had no knowledge of quilting, so then had to find someone who knew about quilting.
To cut a long story short the next 2 years was a whole series of trial and error and lots of tribulation and that’s when we made our second mistake... We were sucked into the world of manufacturing as we thought with a little help we could make them ourselves. We bought a multi-needle quilting machine and David and his son (also David) using their engineering skills set about building a wool carding and quilting line in David’s Huddersfield Mill. This has resulted in creating the only, and probably the first wool quilting line in the UK.
While the two David’s were struggling with the technical side of the initial stages of the process, my wife and I set up a small factory unit in Snowdonia to convert the rolls of quilt made in Huddersfield into the individual duvets. Her only experience of sewing was on a singer sewing machine... That was our third mistake as we had no idea which machines to buy or how to use them.
More trial and error and mistakes but eventually my wife has become very competent at not only at operating industrial sewing machines but she has also mastered many of the technical problems when things breakdown becoming something of a sewing machine engineer, to keep everything running smoothly.
We launched our wool products on the internet with the help of my son and his social media skills and we have been amazed at the public’s response to our Baavets.
Apart from ourselves we now employ 4 people full time and 5 part time and we have secured 2 jobs in the wool carding mill in Huddersfield.
We have doubled our turnover year on year and in the last 3 years. Since then we have launched several product lines including but not limited to pure wool mattress toppers and pure wool pillows.
It’s been a huge learning curve for all of us and we are still tweaking things to enable a smoother running of the machinery, especially in Huddersfield as things are never perfect in manufacturing. We have also learned a great deal more about the technical qualities of wool and I can say quite categorically that wool is far superior to polyester, feather or down duvets or for that matter silk duvets.
Wool is the finest fiber on the planet to sleep under. Wool is also excellent for asthma, eczema sufferers and for any one with overheating problems in bed.
During the ongoing process of trial and error our Baavet quilt design has changed several times and we now have a quilting pattern and fine carding which we believe is superior to other wool duvet products.
We have now expanded to Ireland and the United States of America.
I would say that we make the finest duvet on the planet well that’s what our customers keep telling us… and, if it wasn’t for their genuine appreciation of the quality of the product, we would have given up years ago when the going was really tough.
If you don’t believe me you can try our Baavet as we are that confident in our products. We are the only company that will guarantee you your money back if it doesn’t give you the best nights sleep ever. That’s any duvet company - not just wool duvet companies.
- Roger & Lesley