Our stuffed toy alpacas and bears are an annual favorite for those looking to give a unique gift with a hand-crafted touch from Peru. They are, of course, made with super-soft alpaca fur and are available in a variety of sizes. As with many of our products, there is a story to share!
Each toy alpaca is unique and handmade for us by a family in Southern Peru. We first met this family a few years ago during a trade conference in Lima, Peru. Each year the Peruvian government holds a lottery and a few artisans are allowed to travel to Lima and show their products at the international trade show. At the show, we met Marco and his wife, and we were very impressed with their handmade alpaca products. Through a translator, we were able to establish a relationship and now are the primary source of income for them and their growing micro-business in Alpaca fur products.
The beauty of this is that the money goes directly to Marco and his family instead of going through several layers of distributors, wholesalers, etc. Hence the company name Alpaca Direct!
Two years ago we were back in Lima at the trade fair, and this time we brought our daughter Lauren. She was thrilled to be sitting up front during the high fashion runway shows hosted by Vogue, seeing and meeting our commercial suppliers. But the true life lesson was still ahead...
Lauren and me at the Vogue Fashion Show in Peru
After a long week at the show, I had an email from Marco requesting to meet us on a Sunday morning before we departed from Peru. He didn’t win the lottery that year so was not able to be at the trade show as a vendor. We were tired and ready to go home, but I knew how hard Marco had worked for us and told him we would be happy to meet him at our hotel in Lima.
Upon arrival, Marco looked very tired as he mentioned that he and his wife had traveled 15 hours by bus to meet with us that morning. I had no idea his meeting with us would entail such a long journey! At that moment we experienced the importance our business relationship and the commitment they had to work with us to create quality products.
Lauren and me in front of our Hotel in Lima
In reflecting back on this experience, it was great that our daughter Lauren was there to experience first hand how true commitment and partnership in business translates into the products we sell in our store and on our website.
If you come visit our store and hold one of our stuffed toy alpacas or slip into our handmade alpaca slippers, you can rest assured that your purchase will help support a wonderful family in southern Peru.
Marco's workshop in Arequipa, Peru
We visited Marco's family workshop in Arequipa a while back and they were proud to let us know they have expanded to one more sewing machine to help grow their business!
Thank you again for supporting our business and also supporting small businesses in Peru.
Like many of you, I was researching various masks to make for my friends and family and wanted one that could be made quickly, had a nice fit around the nose, and provided an option for a replaceable filter to provide a little more protection for myself and others nearby. So I fired up my sewing machine and started experimenting!
I finally came up with a mask that I was happy with, so I thought I'd share it.
Handknit gloves are so special, and Kelley has whipped up a great free pattern for an easy pair, knit from our exclusive Bravo yarn. These gloves are soft and luxurious but also very practical. Alpaca is warm and light, so these gloves will be light as air.One of the challenges of knitting gloves is avoiding the holes that inevitably appear between the fingers, usually because enough stitches weren't picked up or they were picked up too loosely. Kelley has solved that problem!
Sometimes you just need an easy project to work on, and Kelley's new free pattern, the Simple Ribbed Hat, is the perfect cast-on for times like these.
We debuted this pattern on a recent Technique Tuesday on Facebook Live, and Kelley used it to demonstrated how to fix a few common mistakes knitters make all the time (even a pro-level knitter like Kelley!).
You'll learn how to fix dropped stitches, turn purls into knits, and fix incorrectly oriented stitches.