Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Interview with Callina Style: Baby Alpaca Fiber Sourcing + Discount Code

Ethical Baby Alpaca Sweater Knitwear Callina
Ethical Fashion blogger new york baby alpaca
chunky knit creme alpaca sweater
ethical baby alpaca scarf and sweater
Chunky Knit Sweater Look
 Baby alpaca sweater, Ines Pullover || Callina
Cooperative-made in Arequipa, Peru, Oeko Tex Standard 100 for safe dying 
Super soft aplaca scarf, Kyla Scarf || c/o Callina
Cooperative-made in Arequipa, Peru, Oeko Tex Standard 100 for safe dying 
Sky stretch denim, Stevie Ankle Jeans || AG Jeans via Ebay
Sustainable fibers, vertically integrated factory and excess fabric upcycled
Wide brown leather boots || Clarks
Not ethically made
Photos Credit: Aditi Mayer

Have you ever wondered if baby alpaca ethical? Does alpaca sheering hurt the alpaca? Well this Black Friday I did too when I purchased my second baby alpaca sweater. Jas, my BFF, asked me about the process of baby alpaca and I hadn't even thought about it. I found Callina through Instagram as I was on my hunt for an ethically made chunky knit baby alpaca sweater in creme (yes, it's very specific). After purchasing my sweater with the Black Friday discount I decided to email Callina and see if they would help us answer this question with an interview on my blog (I should have asked this before my first sweater but at least I'm asking now)! In short, there are bad and good ways to sheer alpaca. Before purchasing your alpaca knitwear be sure to check out the company first. In Callina's case they purchase from community cooperatives in Peru whose lives are raising alpacas and thereafter producing knitwear from their sheers. And get this-baby alpaca yarn isn't even from baby alpaca! Now I can't close this paragraph without touching upon the sweater itself. In few words: Softest. Warmest. Sweater. Ever. Read the interview below to learn more about baby alpaca fiber sourcing. Also, there is a 40% off coupon code below which Callina has exteded just for you!

Interview with Michelle Sheppard, owner of Callina

1. How many communities do you work with? Where are they located?  We work with various groups in Arequipa Peru.  Depending on their expertise and what is being crafted by the artisans.
2. Are they all women? Are they part of a cooperative? Are they fair trade certified?  Depending on the garment.  Most of the hand knits are done by women.  Again the hand knitters are part of a cooperative in Arequipa.  here is a picture below of them. Most of the women live in the neighborhood where the cooperative is located. For example, the hand knitters seen in the picture work with a small company/cooperative in the outer region of Arequipa.

 The company/cooperative provides permanent jobs based on CSR, corporate social responsibility, in which companies manage their business so that their impact is positive, both at economic, environmental and social levels. That is, they are dedicated to helping the community get ahead financially by providing a secure source of income for skilled weavers. Most of the women are from the mountains, are single, and from difficult welfare systems. They have to provide what is necessary for themselves and their families. 
A professional service for development (Christian Cordt), sent by EED (Service of the Evangelical Churches in Germany for Development), helped guide and advise the Ladies with regard to all economic, social and organizational questions. Few of the ladies have finished school, however they receive good training in the concept of general business administration and they themselves are responsible for the tasks business which helps them manage and develop their independent business and self-sustaining. I had the pleasure of meeting this group when I was in visiting the knitting workshop.
Since 2010, the year of the founding of the company, the weaving workshop has became independent and now has a permanent working group with at least 17 women there every day. 

Image provided by Callina.

3. How did you decide to work with the community you work with now? How did you find them or did they find you?  I went to Peru and meet with a lot of different yarn suppliers to find someone who worked with sustainable and fair trade practices.  From there, I was introduced to a women who knows all the different cooperatives in Arequipa, that fit our ethos,  We visited the artisans and I got to know them, their expertise, and the best way we could work together. 
4. What is the process of attaining alpaca wool?  Starting my company, I wanted to work with small artisan groups, or manufactures/ companies that had the same ethos.  I wanted to work with a fiber different than cashmere and the hand of alpaca is incredibly soft and not very well known here in the US. Going to Peru, I meet with a lot of different companies in Lima and Arequipa. In Arequipa, is where I meet the person I am working with today.  
Also Peru cannot compete on price like in china or India but it competes in other areas: quality, natural fibres and service (clients receive a very professional service), good rapport, good quality and being ethical. We follow compete in our ethical standards based on to the government regulations, workers rights and pay which is secure. Workers are well treated throughout the value chain.
We receive our alpaca wool from one of the best yarn suppliers in Peru. They have a Ranch in the Highlands, in the Puno region, where they help raise, breed, and educate the local breeders. The alpacas are shorn, depending on the shearer, they may start at the belly, go to the spine area, then the neck and legs.There are women/men who hand separate the finest softest vs the rougher wool. This has been passed on from generations: the ability to know the fiber by touch.

5. Is there a difference between baby alpaca and alpaca wool sheering?  The baby's are not shorn! This is a huge nomenclature problem.  The baby alpaca wool is from an adult animal.  It is the finest and best fiber from the alpaca adult.  The finer and longer the fiber the better the quality Alpaca it is.  That is why we choose baby alpaca for all our products, it is the softest and best fiber from the adult Alpaca animal.  
6. Is there a non-ethical way of attaining alpaca wool that harms the alpaca? Tell us about sheering!  Careful shearing of alpaca is done once every year. Shearing usually takes place in January through April. This allows the animals time throughout the warmer months to re-grow enough of their coats to be prepared for the oncoming winter.  The animals are not harmed in the process, but the intelligent alpaca does not like to be shorn and thus does everything in its power to escapeIn many rural Andean villages, before shearing begins, an offering is made to the gods and the Pachamama (Mother Earth). The education of the Alpaca breeders include improving the quality of the fiber and the number of Alpacas. This is the main objective of the breeders.   I went to the area where our alpaca live which can be seen above, also there are more on our website.

Both llama images provided by Callina.

7. What is the process of dying? We use yarn dying process. meaning they dye the wool yarn versus the garment.  all the dyes we use are certified and do not have harmful chemicals.  Called oeko tex standard 100.  
8. How long does it take to make one scarf? How about the Ines pullover (the one I have)?  The ines pullover can take up to 3 days to make.  A scarf is usually one day.  

40% off Callina website until 1/31/16: "happy2016"

Stay Warm and Cozy,


  1. this is the first time I've heard of an alpaca hahah.. great post Christine =) love the pics too

  2. Wow Christine, they are super thorough trying to be as fair trade as possible... this was an interesting article, it is nice to know they don't sheer the babies ... Have a great rest of the week xox

  3. Such great post :)

  4. I think that alpacas are very intelligent animals. I know that alpacas fiber are warm and soft.

    alpacas for sale uk


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