We are Chris and Shannon and this is why we started Dartmoor Sheepskins
In 2013, when Axminster Carpets closed their retail outlet in Buckfastleigh, we thought it was a real shame that the oldest tannery in the UK would lose its nearby shop. As customers ourselves, we liked being able to visit the place where you could buy the tannery’s products from the very environment where they had been crafted.
Looking into the history of the sheepskin industry, we discovered how integral sheep had been to the economy of the South West and how important the production of sheepskins had been to the region. For places like our neighbouring town of Buckfastleigh, the farming, tanning, manufacture and retailing of sheepskins has been integral to employment and commerce for the last five centuries. Between 1960 and 1980, the industry was thriving and supported around 5000 jobs, of which 50% were in the Southwest. However, by 2006, that number had dwindled to 250.
But for us at Dartmoor Sheepskins, the most shocking statistic still has to be that within the industry today, less than 0.5% of sheepskins are tanned. This results in a colossal amount of fleeces being discarded as a waste product, which just doesn’t seem right to us. If you look at the data about environmental costs within the wider textile industry, with its “take-make-dispose model”, significant carbon footprint and staggering half a million tonnes of microfibres released into the ocean every year (that’s 50 billion plastic bottles worth), then it’s clear that we all need to contribute to changing this disastrous model of production and use.
So, we started Dartmoor sheepskins. A company rooted in the histories and traditions of the Southwest, with a belief in developing ways to engage with ideas of a more circular economy. One that benefits the local economy through the support of new specialist makers and retailers, the environment through less waste through the cycles of production and use, and therefore the future of our society more generally.
With a combined background in the retail industry of over 20 years, we came to our business with a wealth of valuable experiences and a well developed enthusiasm to start a company that reflects our ethos of quality products provided with exemplary customer care. Whether someone is investing in their first (and perhaps only) fleece, or looking to add to their collection, we have made it our mission to support our clients through every step of their purchase.
Our fully machine washable sheepskins provide added luxury and natural beauty for your home.
Well known for their warmth, did you know they are also breathable and have moisture-wicking properties that can regulate body temperature regardless of the weather outside? Sheepskins are also naturally water-repellent.
While a Dartmoor sheepskin can always add a touch of luxury to any room, their practical durability make our fleeces suitable for a range of uses, from casual rugs and throws to the most delicate (and yet thankfully robust) baby mats, cushioning seat covers or perhaps thrown in the garden as a nice insulating mat for a lazy afternoon in the sunshine with a glass of something cold.
All of our sheepskins have been produced from flocks reared outdoors in the British landscape in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards. But there is also something else about the our British sheepskins that we like our consumers to understand ….
A sheepskin is not a disposal fashion item. We sell them in the knowledge that they are not something to be used and discarded. If you no longer want your fleece in front of your fireplace or on your favourite bench in the kitchen, there are so many other uses for it. However, when they do eventually come to the end of their life, you can rest assured they won’t sit in landfill for hundreds of years like many of the man made products in use today.
Shabby chic, contemporary or more traditional, we can find you a sheepskin to add that extra element of luxury to your home.
Whatever your home, from architect built grand design to caravan, from yurt to one bedroomed flat, the luxury of a British sheepskin is timeless. We enjoy working with people who appreciate our passion for our products and our attention to detail, as well as the rich softness, comfort and durability that every Dartmoor sheepskin can bring.
Looking for something to revamp a favourite old chair? Want some more textures and accents to create interest in your room? Need an added layer of comfort in your bedroom? Or maybe you would like something soft for the latest member of your family to lie on or even take their first tentative steps?
Combining practicality with just a little bit of luxury, a sheepskin is something that is useful within the home, growing and adapting with you and your family. They make excellent gifts for everyone from the very young to the very old, providing everything from a bit of extra comfort for Grandma, something nice to put your feet on in the morning while you’re away from home, or something to make your campervan a bit more snuggly on those cool summer evenings. We have also been lucky to work with designers and photographers, and even supplied a company who provide peaceful yurt retreats, so if you have any ideas that you think we can help you with, do get in touch.
These pretty sheepskins are all completely unique. Each one hand picked for gorgeous patterning, deep soft pile and durable thick hide tanned the traditional way on Dartmoor.