Holy Lamb Organics has new owners, a new showroom and a new problem.
“Finding employees in Oakville is our biggest barrier (for expansion),” said Mindy Schaefer, who along with husband her Jason Schaefer, took ownership of the eastern Grays Harbor County operation in November.
“It’s really exciting that these great products are coming out of Oakville,” Mindy Schaefer said.
The Schaefers have made marketing those products a high priority. The new 2,500-square-foot showroom in Olympia — where customers can check out mattresses, bed-toppers, comforters and more — is a good start.
“It’s a great-quality product line that (the previous owners) were maybe a little nervous about broadcasting,” Jason Schaefer said. “But we’re extremely confident putting it out there. We’ve been all over the country looking into what people make and what they put into the products. And ours are superior.”
Holy Lamb now has the Olympia showroom and the Oakville showroom and manufacturing facilities. Its mission is “to promote health and well-being, and to strengthen an economy based on ecology through manufacturing a line of high quality, all-natural, made in the USA organic bedding products produced using sustainable and ecological practices.”
Holy Lamb’s website says it uses “the highest quality natural materials” in its products. Its bedding starts at $128 for a set of twin organic Jersey sheets. The organic Chambray Linen sheets cost $598 for a California king size bed. Other products include pillows, mattresses, mattress toppers, pajamas and a nursing pillow and other products for new families.
Willow Whitton founded Holy Lamb in 2000.
“I dedicated my life to it for 18 years,” she said. “It was my heart and soul.”
After growing the business to appear in 100 stores across the country, Whitton decided it was time to move on.
“I had completed my goals and was ready to retire as the CEO of the company. I’m working (with the Schaefers) on a consulting basis, making sure they feel supported. And they’re doing great. I’m glad we were able to work things out.
She plans on spending more time with her husband and 7-year-old daughter at their Olympia-area home.
“I’m growing a lot of food right now and generally taking a break,” she said.
And she’s excited to see the company grow.
“What they’ve been able to achieve so far,” Whitton said, “is a testament to not only Jason and Mindy’s dedication but to the whole Holy Lamb team. I’m glad they’re able to accomplish some wonderful goals.”
And the Schaefers are excited about their new opportunity and are making the company their own.
“She got the company to a point where she was satisfied with what she’d done, and she was ready to move on,” Mindy Schaefer said. “We had been running a very similar operation in north Seattle. It just kind of worked out that the time that we were looking to move into something new, that she was looking to let go.”
If you start to itch when you think of wool, you might check out Holy Lamb’s products.
“People are used to that wool sweater they got as a kid that’s really scratchy,” Jason said. “That’s because it had the lanolin stripped out of it, so it’s easy to sew. All of our stuff has the lanolin still in it.”
They encourage feeling the softness of their products in the showroom.
Raw materials are shipped from the Northwest to the manufacturing operation in Oakville, where they manufacture every product they sell. The original showroom and the manufacturing will remain in Oakville.
When asked about placing the new showroom in Olympia, about 20 miles northeast at 104 Thurston Ave. NE, Mindy Schaefer said it’s home.
“This is where our roots are,” she said. “It’s always been a local company, except for the online sales. But it’s always had a big local following. The first place to put your roots down is where your roots are.”
She grew up in the Shoreline-Edmonds area of Seattle. Jason is from Southern California and spent time in the Army with the 82nd Airborne, including a year and a half in Iraq. Prior to taking over Holy Lamb, they both worked for a similar company, Soaring Heart, in north Seattle.
“When you look on a map, there’s nothing between Seattle and Portland that sells products like this,” he said. “(Olympia is) a nice middle ground for everybody.”
But there are no plans to move the operation from Oakville, where they seem to be having a hard time filling positions.
“Anybody who sends me a resume, I’m calling to schedule an interview,” Mindy said. “It’s just been really hard to get people to show up. It’s a great place to work. We offer flexible schedules. And it’s really a kind work environment.”
They also offer retirement matching, health care and paid maternity/paternity leave policy.
“Come apply for a job,” she says to the people of East County. “Our long-term goal is to be good partners with the community. We’re looking for ways to make Oakville a better community.”