How It All Began – 1984 to Present
Shepherd’s Dream began as the work of Eliana Jantz in 1984. Inspired by the simple and elegant Japanese cotton futon, Eliana began to promote alternatives to the typical North American bed. Soon after, she was leading workshops and providing ‘do-it-yourself’ instructions, on how to create simple, healthy futon beds. This eventually led to the creation of Jantz Design — where Eliana began selling hand-made cotton futons in northern California. Dissatisfied with the quality of commercially grown cotton batting available for her endeavor, Eliana began working with the industry to promote an organic cotton production in her region. Eliana collaborated with one of the first California-based organic cotton growers and a nearby garneting mill to create certified organic cotton batting.
Inspired by Wool
A few years later, wool batting, with its comforting and life promoting properties became available to Eliana. She quickly realized that wool was a superior fiber for natural bedding fill. This also led to an increasing involvement with the North American wool production industry, which had been declining for several decades.
Eliana initiated the still successful Pure Grow Wool Program with Sonoma County Woolgrowers in 1993, developing a criterion of sustainable and responsible wool production practices.
The Natural Bedroom
Jantz Design had quickly grown from a tiny live/work operation to a thriving business that she re-named The Natural Bedroom. Eliana designed several different bedding items including one of the first available organic cotton spring mattresses which is still being produced today by Vivetique. After 10 years of pouring all her energy into this company, in 1994, Eliana sold her interest in The Natural Bedroom to pursue a deeper study of healthy living and creating.
Three years later Shepherd’s Dream was born, inspired by the spirit of three young assistants: Sarah — Eliana’s daughter, Logan — an inspired artist, and Levi — Eliana’s son. During its early formation, Shepherd’s Dream was inspired by its philosophy and supported by friends and past customers who wanted to see these high quality products continue to be available to the general public.
One of the most significant collaborators was Patrick Holland, who in the winter of 2001/2002, purchased, transported, and re-assembled a wool carding mill in Northern California. This created a market for regional wool and allowed Shepherd’s Dream to acquire high-quality, locally produced wool batting.
The Woolgatherer Carding Mill, now located in Montague, California, began producing wide-width wool batting in February of 2002 and continues to do so. This was a remarkable feat at a time when most wool mills throughout the United States were shutting down due to lack of demand for wool.
The Commencement of Shepherd’s Dream Canada
Also in 2002, Eliana’s sister Janet, along with her husband Tim, started up a Shepherd’s Dream sister company in Manitoba, Canada. Shepherd’s Dream north is supplying Canadians with all the same high quality bedding products only using Canadian wool blended with our Eco wool. Janet came to visit Montague this same year and had the privilege of meeting Patrick Holland and all his lovely sheep at that time.
How Montague Became the Home of the Wool Bed – as told by Eliana Jantz
We visited Patrick to celebrate the mill’s opening on Easter of 2002, feeling especially inspired by the season that was upon us and the daily birthing of new lambs in the pasture! Patrick took us (Eliana, Sarah and Logan) for our first drive through the tiny, almost ghost-town of Montague to show us an empty brick building in downtown. We imagined that this may be the future home of Shepherd’s Dream operations
The two-story red brick building in the heart of town was built in 1890 by Italian master masons in the newly born railroad town of Montague. Conveniently, the new wool carding mill stood barely a quarter mile down the road. Located in the middle of the Shasta Valley, the town sits in golden fields, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and touched by the sunshine 300 days of the year. This was all that it took to convince us that this was the place for us to be.
We returned to Sonoma County to pose the question to a great friend and collaborator, Bob Davidson. Since Bob and I had been sharing the same vision for creating live/work architecture as the foundation for sustainable community, it was clear that this was the perfect opportunity for us. The building was purchased in June of 2002 and after 1 year of remodeling, 140 S. 11th St. became the new home to Shepherd’s Dream.
After several years of devoting his life to being a Shepherd and running a wool carding Mill, on Fathers day of 2003, Patrick Holland passed away. It was a terrible loss to all of us. We have an undying amount of gratitude to Patrick and all of the spirit that he brought to this life and all that he created. His life was always an adventure, inspired by something beyond our understanding. It was one of the greatest gifts to have spent the last couple years of his life with him.
A couple of months after Patrick’s death, Nathon (the boyfriend of Eliana’s daughter, Sarah) began to assist with running the mill and was quickly asked to purchase the mill from Patrick’s wife. Considering his genuine respect for Patrick, he decided to buy the mill in order to keep his vision alive and the mill running strong.
Nathon began to educate himself on all aspects of running a wool mill and with great dedication, he slowly turned the Woolgatherer Carding Mill into a highly successful company that is currently one of the top organic & natural wool producers in the United States.
The Next Generation
In April of 2007, Eliana passed the ownership of Shepherd’s Dream over to her daughter, Sarah Sunshine Smith.
After over 15 years of managing 2 successful companies, Eliana was ready to turn her attention back to her own health and well being, knowing that her daughter Sarah, and the newly formed dream team would be able to carry on her vision.
Eliana now spends a good portion of her time developing her new company, Heartfelt. Heartfelt produces pure wool felts and the new and popular layered felt bed, an evolution on her conception of a simple, natural and breathable bed. Visit her website.
As the new owner of Shepherd’s Dream, Sarah focused on building a strong and capable team and quickly decided to transfer Shepherd’s Dream from a sole proprietorship to an LLC. After 7 years, Sarah has successfully created a sustainable company that runs largely on its own. Sarah continues to produce wool bedding while assisting with other aspects of the company. Sarah married Nathon, the owner of the Woolgatherer Carding Mill in 2011.