ULAT Dryer Balls in The Province Paper
Jennifer LeBrun’s business started unexpectedly last Christmas when she was looking for ways to save money.
The holiday season was going to be tight with the addition of a baby to her family and a single income. LeBrun, crafty by nature, started thinking about making gifts rather than buying.
“I had a bunch of wool batting that I’d been waiting and wanting to do crafts with my daughter. So I thought, what can I do for my family and friends?” says LeBrun.
She’d heard about dryer balls but never used them. After some research, LeBrun and her husband, Koichi Suzuki, made their first set and popped them into the dryer.
“We put (a load in) in for 30 minutes … and it finished in 15,” recalls LeBrun.
To their surprise, the clothes were completely dry.
Through trial and error, the couple discovered the magic number was three: A trio of two-ounce wool balls did wonders for cutting energy and saving money.
ULAT dryer balls decrease drying time by 30 to 50 per cent, decrease wrinkles and are a green alternative to commercial dryer sheets. You can even add scented oils to lightly scent clothing.
The Vancouver couple decided on a lark to stop by the then newly opened Soap Dispensary on Main Street, which specializes in eco household products. LeBrun asked if they’d be interested in carrying the dryer balls.
“We had a lovely chat with the owner. She’d never heard of them. We said, let’s give them a shot at the store and, if not, I still had my Christmas gifts. And they sold out in under a week. That’s why we’ve been going non-stop.”
LeBrun says ULAT dryer balls are different from other wool balls on the market as some companies use cheaper wool inside as filler, which means the absorption isn’t as good and it can take twice as many balls to do the job. (ULAT balls are 100-per-cent Canadian merino wool.)
This week will mark Ulat’s Circle Craft debut. The dryer balls retail for $30 for a set of three. The couple still hand craft every dryer ball with wool sourced from a sheep co-op in Alberta. They estimate they’ve sold more than a 1,000 to date.
“You make the time,” says LeBrun, who now has a fulltime day job. “It’s very different when you’re participating in something that … can make a difference. But, really, it’s been an absolute pleasure and we feel really blessed by the support we’ve had. So we just keep going.”