By Beverly Drapalik
Looking for the perfect gift? Something you would want, your friends would want and even your dog would covet?
Put dryer balls on your list.
Julie Carter began working on dryer balls in 2010. She was figuring out how to incorporate fiber from the alpacas on her parents’ farm in Ballground, Georgia, into a useful product. Those resulting alpaca and wool dryer balls have been her best seller at L & L Naturals by Julie.
Dogs can’t buy them, but dogs do love them.
“I get calls all the time from customers who have bought a set of five, but they need more. Every time they get a load of clothes out of the dryer, dogs are standing by,” she said.
L & L Naturals by Julie sells a line of products that is made from essential oils and natural ingredients.
“Vegans and vegetarians like my products,” Carter said. “I even sold some products to a store in Cleveland that deals in merchandise for cancer patients.”
Fragrances such as lavender and other florals are very popular right now. One of the products is a tension reliever, another is a spray for fabric. Lots of customers like to use it during ironing.
Regarding popular fragrances, at one show, Carter and her daughter, Lindsey, met an older gentleman. Carter said he asked them what “ladies like.”
Thinking he was buying a gift for his wife, they showed him the lavender products, and he bought the spray. He immediately sprayed his clothes, put the bottle in his pocket and proceeded to walk around the show.
“That was entertaining,” Carter said.
Carter’s family is totally involved in the business. Husband Phil does the designing of the labels; Lindsey adheres labels and stirs products; son Lukas totes products and helps set up shows.
She creates recipes for the 100-percent natural products and does all the work in her kitchen. She creates small batches and is constantly in control of quality.
Judy Prettyman, Carter’s mom, is a spinner and a bar soap maker, so she has been an inspiration to her. Fiber comes from Prettyman’s farm in Georgia, but fiber also comes from local farms such as Taylor’s Tunis and Kingdom Acres Alpacas. Local beeswax is also used, as well as coconut oil.
Felted soap, sugar scrubs, lotion bars, cuticle cream, bath salts and detergent are only a partial list of products, and dryer balls remain the best seller by far.
Two items have become very useful during summers: The bug spray, which is safe for people, and the line of flea and tick spray which is safe for dogs.
Carter has also created a dry dog shampoo and a balm for dogs’ noses and the pads of their feet. One of her customers, who didn’t have the dry dog shampoo, however, used her personal L & L soap for washing her “doggies and it worked great,” Carter said.
The business seems to be one of the most interesting and satisfying ventures for Carter. She has sold real estate and is a para-professional at Miami Trace Elementary School in Washington Court House. She loves working with children, but she leaves room for the creation of natural products. She will take a suggestion from a customer and try new creations, using requested essential oils.
Recently, a Dayton shop owner who specializes in vintage bicycles asked Carter if she could create a chaffing balm for cyclists.
Carter said new products are on her agenda.
“I like to create products that I would like to use,” she said.
Acquainting the public with these products is also on the agenda — perhaps some education, too. Some men have been known to throw the dryer balls into the trash, and one woman put the felted soap into the dryer.
Education, however, may not work on the dogs.
L & L NATURALS BY JULIE
WHY DRYER BALLS?
According to landlnaturalproducts.com, they:
• Have no chemicals
• Are non-toxic
• Decrease drying time by up to 35 percent
• Save energy and money
• Decrease static
• Work as a wrinkle releaser
• Have no fragrances added
• Do not harbor any kind of bacteria because of the wool
• Last for several years
• Negate the need for dryer sheets or softeners