December 9th, 2012

As the Thanksgiving season rolls around each year, I become nostalgic for my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru. This year’s Thanksgiving nostalgia marked the 7th year anniversary of my return to the US after a roller coaster Peace Corps experience. I surprised my family (I hadn’t returned to the US in 2.5 years) the eve of Thanksgiving in 2005. Thanksgiving in my family is a big celebration at my parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs. Cousins come from NYC and Portland. Over glasses of wine and baked brie, we talk about the past year and the evening typically ends with a shopping spree in the basement where I share the latest Mayu designs — this year there was a lot to share from our 2012 Fall collection of alpaca scarves and alpaca hats hand knit in Peru. The evening made me reflect on those that have inspired me throughout my journey as the owner of Mayu…

This photo was taken my first month in the Peace Corps with my host sisters. Mayu is the smallest of the three and she is the inspiration behind this social enterprise. I am particularly fond of this picture because this was the first time my three host sisters — Mayu included — took me to the “chacra”, the fields high in the Andes Mountains where they grow dozens of types of potatoes. That day we harvested potatoes. I remember it like it was yesterday; it was just the beginning of what would become a very fruitful relationship with the Peruvian community where I was living.

Since meeting Mayu and her sisters and the talented knitters that create our one-of-a-kind alpaca accessories, we’ve all come a long way…we’ve learned lots from one another about our cultures, the challenges of starting a small business, creating the perfect alpaca scarves and hats, and so much more. I’m grateful to have been introduced to the knitters as well as my host sisters. Seven years later we continue to remain connected and I am happy that I’ve been able to support them with additional income through the sale of our alpaca scarves and hats.

   For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



November 18th, 2012

So here at Mayu we come across a lot of people who know nothing about alpaca fiber. They’ve never owned an alpaca scarf or hat before so it is our job to educate them on the benefits of alpaca wool so they purchase one of our hand-knit alpaca scarves or alpaca hats.

Obviously we can count on alpacas for  providing the most high-quality, resilient and luxurious fiber around, but  there is so much more to be learned about these charming creatures.

For example…

  • Ancient Incas realized the potential of alpaca fiber almost 6,000 years ago when they began domesticating them for their fleece. Because of the exquisite quality of garments woven with the fiber, it was reserved strictly for society’s elite.
  • The Incas weren’t alone in their love for alpacas- the number of alpaca farms in the U.S. and Canada has been growing steadily since the early 1980′s. A single herd was transported over in 1984, and today that herd has multiplied to include over 20,000 alpacas across North America.

To learn 10 things about alpaca that you surely didn’t know, click here. And, read here for a snapshot on alpaca fiber vs. cashmere vs. wool.

   For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



October 21st, 2012

This much overdue, but wanted to share with readers some of the key differences between alpaca fiber and other fibers that consumers often confuse with alpaca — cashmere (which actually comes from a goat) and wool (from sheep). Mayu’s hand-knit alpaca scarves and hats are knit with pure Peruvian alpaca. Yup, the real deal — pure, luxurious alpaca!


the warmest

eco-friendly fiber; no lanolin oil so no harsh washing chemicals

eco-friendly animal;  grazing, digestion

hypoallergenic (if you are alergic to wool, you may not be alergic to alpaca)

high quality; it won’t pill, it will look new forever and it will last a lifetime

shiny, soft and snuggly

scarcity; our alpaca comes all the way from the Peruvian andes

wool (sheep)

less insulating so not as warm as alpaca

itchier and pricklier than alpaca

less durable than alpaca; it just might fall apart

lower quality than alpaca; it just might pill

cashmere (goat)

it is indeed soft  but…

known to pill, stretch, cling, wrinkle

contribute to ecological degradation

   For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



October 7th, 2012

On days like this, I get really excited and feel oh so super accomplished! Its often a great feat when a box of our alpaca scarves arrives in tact from Peru, especially when you consider what Mayu’s knitters have to go through to produce and send our hand-knit alpaca scarves and hats. The Peruvian post had been on strike for about 3 months so using that was definitely out of the question! As a result, I had to turn to the ultra-costly, but only-option, FedEx. But, there was still one problem. The town where Mayu’s knitters live was hosting its annual, week-long fiesta (party!) and the few buses going in and out of town refused to allow the knitters to load the large sacks of alpaca scarves into the bus because there just wasn’t room… 

So, what did that mean for us? Well, a 10-day delay in receiving our shipment and a few extra days that the knitters were trapped in their town without getting to take the 8-hour bus ride down to Lima to the FedEx office (yep, you heard that right, every time they send us a shipment, they have to travel 8-hours to Lima, which is quite a scary ride through the Peruvian Andes down through the coast). Alas, we received our boxes and our hand-knit winter accessories are in tip-top condition! Thanks to all involved and thanks to our customers for being patient.

  For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!




October 4th, 2012

Our friends at Daily Candy recognize that Mayu is the best e-commerce shop for your winter accessory needs so they’ve mentioned us as a must-shop spot for one-of-a-kind, hand-knit alpaca scarves, hats and more. Check out the fabulous little profile featured on their Weekend Guide.  We are front and center and also scored the photo! Thanks Daily Candy…you’ve got great taste!

  For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



September 27th, 2012

It’s no secret that alpaca fiber is one of the most luxurious, sustainable materials around- but we can’t forget about the alpacas themselves! The Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association (AOBA) is holding National Alpaca Farm Days on September 29 and 30 and invite you to visit their member farms and ranches and experience what the alpaca industry in both the United States and Canada is like. Do you need an exciting activity this weekend? Well, here is your answer — pile the family in the car and take a trip to the nearest alpaca farm!

Not only are alpacas gentle, beautiful animals, but also they are sensitive to their environments in every way and therefore considered to be eco-friendly animals with eco-friendly alpaca wool. They nurture their environments with their eating and living habits, and their upbringing does not require any pesticides or other damaging chemicals. Visit for a complete list of participating farms and ranches to learn more about alpacas and participate in this exciting event.

Can’t make it to your local alpaca farm? No worries! Shop Mayu’s hand-knit alpaca scarves and hats. Our products are the real deal, 100% pure alpaca, coming straight from the source…the Andes Mountains of Peru. The alpaca wool we use is not only pure, but also purely Peruvian. The eco-friendly raw materials are the livelihood of  many small farms around Peru. We have a deep appreciation for both the alpacas that provide us beautiful, luxurious yarn and also the knitters who turn the yarn into beautiful and luxurious alpaca scarves, hats and more.

 For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



September 12th, 2012

To celebrate the launch of our New Collection and the upcoming Fall weather, Mayu is offering an exclusive deal on our one-of-a-kind, hand-knit alpaca scarves, hats, gloves and throws.  Get a head start on your winter  shopping!

Free Shipping on All Orders!

 Orders Over $100: 10% Off + Free Shipping

Orders Over $200: 15% Off + Free Shipping

Offer Good Through 9/17/12



August 26th, 2012

The time has just about come to “officially” launch the NEW Mayu!  Of course the site is already live, but we haven’t made our announcement just yet. It is coming soon. Thanks to the whole team that has helped us make this change. First and foremost are our Peruvian knitters and our American designers, photographers, models, graphic designers, interns and more (yes, lots of moving parts).

Our re-branding has been in the works for the last couple of months and we are very excited to introduce you to our new “look” as well as the Fall collection, which now has scarves for women and men.  We received a lot of feedback that we just had to offer alpaca scarves and hats for all your favorite guys so we’ve listened and delivered. Check out our men’s winter scarves and hats.

The re-branding comes as an effort to better highlight the high-end, one-of-a-kind nature of  our Andean inspired luxury scarves and accessories, made of the purest alpaca fiber, authentically hand knit in Peru.If you’ve spent any time googling or shopping for alpaca scarves and hats, you most likely know that there isn’t much out there on-par with Mayu’s accessories. Most of the items are mass produced, machine made and not  actually made with pure alpaca fiber. Its just not the whole package…

Mayu’s scarves and hats are truly: 100% pure alpaca. 100% hand-knit. 100% peruvian. 100% good.

We’d love your comments or feedback on our new site and products and hope you like our new look. Please share our site on your social media networks!

For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!




June 18th, 2012

As I have mentioned before, Mayu will be launching new alpaca scarf and hat designs this Fall. I am so excited! The process isn’t so easy, however, as Mayu’s knitting group lives high in the Andes Mountains in rural Peru and I live here in Chicago, working a day job…

The working relationship I have with them is therefore complicated by not only the distance, but the lack of Internet communication, spotty electricity and frequent post office strikes. On the brighter side, conditions have definitely changed since I started working with them in 2004…they now have cell phones with text message capabilities and some of the women are now  able to use the Interent (though they have to fight for space in the busy Internet cafes — school kids make the cafes their home for all hours of the evening).

So here I am, sharing a couple of photos of the very beginning of the design process. These ones are taken here in Chicago during my meetings with Mayu’s designer, Laddhavan Sutana. This is only the beginning, the inspiration, if you will. Everything gets nicely packaged and sent to Peru with fingers crossed that it arrives. So far, so good!

More pictures and stories of the design process to come. I like to share them because it helps to tell the Mayu story and reiterates why our hand-knit alpaca products are so special.

For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!



June 3rd, 2012

While preparing some things for Mayu’s makeover (New hand-knit alpaca scarf and hat designs will be for sale — Fall 2012), I was going through some pictures I’ve taken over the years in Peru. This picture, which I found to be particularly inspirational, was taken seven years ago while I was a Peace Corps volunteer. For those of you who don’t know, Mayu was founded as a direct result of my time in the Peace Corps.  

The photo to the right was taken in a small village about 6 hours from where Mayu’s products are produced. While Mayu’s knitters were busily knitting beautiful alpaca scarves and hats in their small Andean community, I was traveling to this village to meet with a different women’s group. The women I met with in this picture were interested in forming an Andean knitting cooperative similar to the one we formed for Mayu. I shared stories with these women (there is only one artisan in the picture, but there were about 15 at the meeting) about what it was like to work with Mayu’s artisans and helped them to understand some of the best practices (at least what I thought were best practices!) that the knitters and I had come up with during my time as a small business volunteer in the Peace Corps. Not a bad job, huh?

Well, here I am seven years later, still working with the same Mayu knitters. It has been a trip — many ups and downs — but, that is what has made it interesting. There are new challenges everyday, some which are exacerbated by the fact that I don’t have the time to travel to Peru as I’d like. Until the next trip, I’ll just continue to live through the photos. More to come!

For more on Mayu, find us on Twitter, and Facebook, and hear more stories from the field on our Blog!