We believe an object can elevate both beholder and maker. In a world of mass-produced goods, we offer artisan-made home and apparel crafted in fair-trade environments from around the globe. We strive to live fully, slow down to enjoy life’s little luxuries, and choose everyday to create a world connecting maker, owner and earth.
Using Community to Build a Fair Trade Business #2: Alpacas in Peru
Empower your purchase! Read on below to find out how our best-selling Alpaca Dryer Balls are made with a fair trade, eco-friendly and sustainable process.
The Story Behind Our Alpaca Dryer Balls
About 2 or 3 years ago, in a wholesale market, one of our customers walked into our trade show booth and asked if we sold dryer balls. At the time Jess, our co-founder, didn't know what they were.
After looking into it, Jess decided to try her hand at making a few in collaboration with an artisan community of Peruvian women and their local alpaqueros (alpaca farmers).
While there seemed to be a lot of wool dryer balls on the market, there weren't a lot made from alpaca fibres.
So Jess worked alongside our team in Peru to get creative and dream up products that had never been made before.
The result is our uniquely felted alpaca dryer balls!
Working Together to Create Our Alpaca Ball Prototype
Developing the best dryer ball ever made began with two key learning curves:
We had to teach our collective of female artisans how to felt (this would be essential to the manufacturing process).
Because these women and alpaqueros do not own dryer machines (they’re not necessary in a warm climate like Peru’s) we also had to teach them what the balls are made to do!
Together we worked out the most efficient production process. After several rounds of prototypes, we finally reached the perfect dryer ball, and never looked back!
Why Our Alpaca Balls are Felted Right to the Middle
Made from 50% alpaca, and 50% wool, every Poko alpaca ball is felted right to the middle.
To increase the sustainability of our product, we avoid only felting the outside layers.
Felting the alpaca and wool fibres all the way into the center gives the ball more weight and ensures maximum longevity of the dryer ball.
The Women Behind Our Alpaca Dryer Balls
We make our alpaca dryer balls with agroup of women in the rural Peruvian town of Arequipa, Peru.
These women are a cooperative of traditional, local Peruvians living in and around the desert region, where annual rainfall is virtually non-existent.
They also proudly work alongside their local alpaqueros.
These alpaqueros are small-scale farmers, with small-scale herds of alpacas. They work in the surrounding, pastoral, and very beautiful region made up of green fields, rolling valleys, and fresh air.
Alpacas: the Environmentally Friendly Animal
Alpacas are both a planet protector, as well as an eco-friendly supply source for woolen fabrics. While their padded feet result in minimal soil erosion, alpacas’ efficient digestion and water-retention make for an animal that’s easy on their environment.
Alpaca Fibres: Biodegradable and Chemical Free
Alpaca fibers are also famous for not containing lanolin oil.
This means harsh chemicals are not required in the manufacturing process.
For this reason, by switching to alpaca balls, we are collectively able to reduce the harsh environmental effects caused by the manufacturing and disposal of chemical dryer sheets.
“Our chemical-free Alpaca Balls are 100% biodegradable! Plant your dryer balls in the garden or compost to release valuable nutrients back into the Earth!” – Poko
How Our Alpaca Balls Create Sustainability
Alpaca dryer balls represent reliable, sustainable income generation for both these women and their local alpaqueros. With an economic reality very much different from most of what we see in North America, our partnership with these Peruvian locals is imperative.
In an environment where steady work is not easy to come by, our alpaca dryer balls represent the possibility of using business to:
Develop jobs for both Peruvians and North Americans
Create products that promote a healthy, natural lifestyle
Engage with alternative, fair trade supply chains, and
Manufacture products that use and promote natural materials with no synthetics.
Our Alpaca Balls are Cruelty Free
In addition to the various benefits our production process brings to the value of these alpaca dryer balls, it’s important to know they are made cruelty free as well!
No animals are harmed in our production of alpaca fibre, or for any Poko products. All alpacas involved in the ball's supply chain are treated humanely and with deep respect.
Alpaca-loving Pokoloko is a Fair Trade Company
Pokoloko is a fairly traded company connecting small-scale artisans, like our friends in Peru, to international markets. We provide long-term, sustainable employment opportunities for the betterment of our makers’ lives, and high-quality products you will use and love forever.
Upgrade your next load of laundry and grab a box of our best-selling fair tradealpaca dryer balls!
Written by Katelyn Wells, BA Media Production, Poko Blogger
Katelyn is a local freelance copywriter with a passion for the environment.She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario where she spends her mornings on the mat, youtube-ing how to avoid yoga injuries.