As a North Georgia native, I visited Asheville a number of times growing up and into my adult years. It was a proverbial pilgrimage in Autumn for us Southerners. From renowned restaurants, trout fishing, wineries, hiking, the Biltmore, or just enjoying the scenery and taking in the fresh smell of crisp fall air on the Blue Ridge Highway, Asheville is at the heart of beautiful country in the Southeast. But this region is more than a weekend getaway for Georgians or the North Carolina Piedmont; it serves as a gathering place for the most visionary of entrepreneurs that strive to make this world a better place through sustainable and ethical business practices. Echoview Fiber Mill is proving that the phrase “Keep Asheville Weird” is more than quirkiness, but more so an expression of the importance of being different and unique in an industry known for outsourcing internationally to mills that are both worsening the effects of climate change and mistreating their workers with unlivable wages and harsh working conditions.
Echoview is proudly changing that textile mill narrative. Founder and owner Julie Jenson combined her passion for the planet, community, textiles, and ecology to create the first Gold LEED Certified fiber mill in the USA a few years after moving to North Carolina in 2005. Weaverville, NC— yes, you read that correctly— is where she eventually broke ground. Right outside of Asheville, Weaverville is a small town with a population just north of 3,000 and a main street that celebrates small business with artisanal goods and local restaurants. “Shop Local” was and is more than a cliché for Julie, though. Partnering with small regional farmers to produce heirloom-quality baby blankets, throws, and clothes (to name a few) is at the heart of their business. From the raw material to the end product, Echoview takes pride in a supply chain that is sustainable environmentally, but also economically in that they provide a living wage to the mill workers and farmers.
"From the raw material to the end product, Echoview takes pride in a supply chain that is sustainable environmentally, but also economically in that they provide a living wage to the mill workers and farmers."
When asked about the viability of a business that is committed to ethical and sustainable practices, Julie said that “it currently costs more to produce an item that is made in a building that uses alternative energy (solar, wind, geothermal), sustainably sourced materials and living wage employees than it is to produce something in a traditional building using cheap materials and plastics and paying below living wage. When you spend more on items that are made with the environmental impact in mind, it often means you have to buy less. That’s tough in today’s world where marketers are constantly bombarding you with the “buy buy buy” message. Here at Echoview, we believe it’s important to promote the sustainable values we believe in, which is why we create heirloom products meant to last as long as possible. Yes, we know we may not sell as much, but these values are important to us.”
Echoview Fiber Mill, true to Asheville form, is “weird.” As a woman-owned business that was the first Gold LEED certified fiber mill in the country, they are not only one-of-a-kind and unique, but also an example to all of us that making commitments to sustainability, living wages and local material sourcing can be successful for both the local community and the business itself. We are proud to partner with Echoview Fiber Mill. You can view the complete collection of products here. Thank you for shopping small and supporting ethically and sustainably made homewares.