top of page

Ep. 76: Alpacas, Fiber Arts, and an Old Schoolhouse

Updated: Oct 7, 2021

Imagine the owner of a fiber mill partnering with a needle felting sculpture artist. Now try to picture that duo finding, buying, and renovating a 100 year-old building in a rural North Dakota town of about 60 people to house a future facility where people can stay, meet the alpaca/sheep herd, watch how the fiber mill works, eat amazing food prepared by a chef, and get their hands into creating your fiber art projects.

Can you picture it? Does it sound like a pipe dream? Well, you probably can’t and it’s not. Our podcast guests today are Chris Armbrust, the mill owner, and Teresa Perleberg, the needle felting artist and what was described above is what they’ve collaborated on to create and build.

If there was ever an episode that inspired us to believe in the power of what’s possible, this is it. You can’t help but be encouraged by their story.

About Teresa and Chris:

Teresa Perleberg and her family raise a flock of 125 Romney sheep by Fort Ransom, ND and Teresa uses their wool to make 3D sculptures of animals using the art of needle felting. She has been teaching others how to needle felt since 2008 through kits and an online Academy membership. Teresa has a passion for online marketing and ships her kits out to crafters all over the world and has over 300 members in her online Academy. Chris Armbrust operates Dakota Fiber Mill by Kindred, ND where she processes fiber for customers from all over the nation, taking the raw fiber and, picking, scouring and either carding into roving or yarn for her customers. Over the years she has raised a variety of fiber animals such as Alpaca, several different breeds of sheep, Llama, bunnies, and a camel. Many have enjoyed tours of her mill and meeting the animals that provide the fiber. Teresa and Chris partnered their businesses and formed Shepherd Industries, LLC in 2018. They purchased the Nome Schoolhouse in Nome, ND and are currently renovating it with plans for it to be a Fiber Arts Retreat Center/Event Center. All of the mill equipment will be moved to the school, a small education herd of fiber animals will live in the barn behind the school, and The Shepherd Industries store will be in one of the classrooms. Their focus will be Fiber Arts retreats but will welcome any form of crafting retreat. The school will have 11 guest rooms, a commercial kitchen for serving events and guests, an event center (gym), and classroom space for ongoing learning just to name a few of the amenities. The building had sat empty for years and is undergoing a remarkable transformation.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How traditional means of financing might not always work for big ideas in small towns

  • The power of collaboration and partnership

  • What a vision, faith, and belief can create

  • How to eat an elephant (hint: it’s always a bite at a time)

  • The value of transparency in telling your story

  • What a kickstarter campaign could look like to launch a big idea

  • How to keep fear in check

Links and Resources Mentioned:

Weekly updates on our EweTube channel -

Follow our progress on Facebook -

Follow Bear Creek Felting on Facebook -

Follow Dakota Fiber Mill on Facebook -

Follow Nome Schoolhouse on Instagram -

Follow Bear Creek Felting on Instagram -

Nome Schoolhouse Website -

Bear Creek Felting Website -

Subscribe and Review The Growing Small Towns Show!

Thanks for tuning into this week’s episode of The Growing Small Towns Show! If the information in our conversations and interviews has helped you in your small town, please click on the images below for Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or Spotify, subscribe to the show, and leave us an honest review. Your reviews and feedback will not only help us continue to deliver relevant, helpful content, but it will also help us reach even more small-town trailblazers just like you!


bottom of page