Teresa Perleberg developed a niche market using her flock of sheep’s wool by designing needle felting kits with instructions and materials to complete the project. She began selling her kits online in 2008 and in 2017 added an online subscription membership teaching needle felting through video courses. In 2018 she along with Chris Armbrust of Dakota Fiber Mill purchased the Nome Schoolhouse and began renovations to house their businesses and a fiber arts retreat center.
“My business is now based out of Nome, ND because I fell in love with a 100-year-old school building that needed to be saved from falling further into disrepair. “
About Bear Creek Felting + Nome Schoolhouse
What started as a hobby transformed into a creation and teaching business surrounding needle felting. In 2017 Teresa opened the Bear Creek Felting Academy where she created felting courses and kits for a niche market. In 2018 she partnered with Chris Armbrust to purchase and renovate the Nome Schoolhouse in Nome, ND. The Nome Schoolhouse is a boutique hotel and event center that houses Bear Creek Felting, Dakota Fiber Mill, and their 501c3 the Nome Eweniversity which focuses on providing education on the entire fiber process from Farm to Needle.
Tell us about your mission.
“My mission is to provide the best materials and knowledge so that my customers can enjoy needle felting as a stress-relieving creative escape. We are the only needle felting company that grows its own wool, processes it, and assembles its products all in the USA. Most wool sold in needle felting kits or sold for needle felting is imported merino wool. Merino wool is soft, but it does not needle-felt well. Our wool is fully traceable back to our farm, where our sheep are ethically and sustainably raised, which is 18 miles from where it is processed and sold and it is the very best for needle felting. I want someone just getting started in needle felting to have access to the best materials so that they will enjoy it and continue needle felting.”
What are some wins you are celebrating?
“Bear Creek Felting – From 2018 – 2021 we were renovating a 100-year-old building, doing as much of the work that we could do ourselves. Since then we have been learning the ins and outs of how to run a boutique hotel and event center. We have hired employees and have worked to organize a business we had zero experience with. We founded a nonprofit and gathered a board of directors. All this time Bear Creek Felting was going strong in the background thanks to years and years of work making sure it could run seamlessly without my constant attention 12 hours a day.”
“Nome Schoolhouse – This past November we received the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award which recognizes and celebrates the “best of the best” in preservation projects across the country—projects that highlight cutting-edge preservation approaches or technologies. This is the highest national recognition bestowed upon a preservation project by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your entrepreneurial journey?
“The riches are in the niches. Because my business is so unique and there are very few of us designing and selling needle felting kits, supplies, and information in the world, that is what has made me successful.”
Nome Schoolhouse is officially a part of the Fargo-Moorhead founder family. How can our community support you in your next stage of growth?
“Help us spread the word about what we are doing at the Nome Schoolhouse through our 501c3 Eweniversity which focuses on farm-to-needle education. We are providing educational opportunities to learn about raising fiber animals, processing their wool, and products that can be made from their wool through tours, classes, and retreats.”
What are you grateful for today?
“I am thankful for an amazing team of employees! It took a while to get everything organized running the Nome Schoolhouse and Shepherd industries. We are finally to the point where I can spend more time in my area of expertise again, needle felting and designing kits and courses. I’m grateful to have a talented business partner who excels in all the areas that I do not, which makes us the perfect team.”