Origin Story: Our Alpaca
Cuyana Visits Lima, Peru and Goes Behind the Scenes with Our Alpaca Partner
Cuyana is committed to transparency. Our makers are an integral part of Cuyana and we consider them to be family. We love the beautiful, high-quality products they bring to our collection, but beyond that, we love the relationships we have built and the incredible ways in which we have grown together. We want to celebrate our partnership and share their stories with you.
The Peruvian factory that handles all of Cuyana’s Alpaca production was started by a mother in 2003 and is now run by her three daughters. The mother opened the factory after one of their family’s mines closed suddenly. Concerned that the workers would be out of jobs, the family sought to support the women of the area, many of whom had young children. “We wanted to help them support their families financially, raise their self-esteem and ultimately become more empowered,” says one of the daughters.
The family’s intention was to offer a product made in Peru “to generate an impact here and to help our network of artisans."
Making an Impact
The factory’s priority from day one was sustainable development, while teaching the workers a skill, artisanal weaving, that they could pass down from generation to generation. The result was alpaca products of the utmost quality.
“We are all about quality, and Cuyana is continually inspiring us to achieve a better product.”
Upon being introduced to the factory, it was immediately evident that its mission and goals were perfectly aligned with those of Cuyana: to empower women and create high-quality products. Many of the female employees bring their children to work with them, hoping to inspire their children to find passion in their future careers. “I want to teach my daughter, ‘whatever you do, do it with passion,’ because being a female entrepreneur is not easy,” says one factory worker. The sisters strive to create opportunities for their employees, promoting from within and rewarding dedicated workers with increased responsibility.
“We at Cuyana want the factory to grow and they want us to grow,” say Karla and Shilpa. The workers’ dedication to success is evident in the products. “When a Cuyana item is being packaged, and I see that it’s turned out well and is what the client wanted, that is what satisfies me most,” says one worker. “And we know that all the effort we put into it was worth it.”
The ethically made products are handcrafted from baby alpaca, the baby hairs from grown alpacas. These hairs need to be shed from the animals so they do not overheat; the alpacas are never harmed in the production. The factory hand-selects all of these luxury fibers and then constructs its items by machine, finishing them by hand. Each item follows an exhaustive quality control process, with a focus on softness, sustainability and consistency.
“For us, seeing the realized product turn into an ‘essential’ gives us tremendous satisfaction.”
The sisters and their workers ensure that every Cuyana product is what they call “A1, luxury quality,” even if it requires much practice to get a pattern right. To create items such as the Oversized Turtleneck Sweater, the Color Block Throw and the Lightweight Reversible Knitted Coat, workers had to spend multiple hours perfecting patterns. “I believe that, in the end, all the work we do – from the fold of the clothing to the details that Cuyana puts on them to make them feel special – is worth it if the customer ultimately says, ‘Wow, I really want something else from Cuyana,’” says Elena. “For us, seeing the realized product turn into an ‘essential’ gives us tremendous satisfaction.”