My interest in making clothing from llama fiber was based on its high level of performance and how it could protect a person for extended periods in variable high mountain conditions. So it was a bit of a surprise when office workers, golfers, retirees, and other seemingly casual, low-demand users began purchasing and praising the clothing. Hearing customers tell me all the advantages they were experiencing wearing our clothing in a variety of environments made it apparent the fiber’s potential was limited only by the designs we produced and the awareness we could create.
We have both embraced and struggled with this reality. We didn’t know what market to focus on and try to penetrate first. The clothing industry is very competitive and marked by sophisticated and extensive marketing programs that heavily influence consumers. It’s very hard for a small company like ours to compete in that environment and we needed to approach marketing from a different perspective. We came to realize that it would be ineffective to focus on specific specialty markets.
We have recognized each specialty clothing market has a segment of buyers looking for comprehensive value, measured not only in performance, but also in ethics. These buyers are composed of people looking at the world around them and recognizing the need to think more critically and make more conscientious decisions. They want high performance, but don’t want their personal choices in clothing to leave an enduring footprint on the environment, be it local or global. They are looking to simplify their daily lives. Buying less clothing of higher quality, simplifying and lowering its maintenance costs, being more comfortable, saving energy in their homes and workplaces, and operating outside the narratives created by aggressive corporate marketing motivate their purchases.
We now understand that what defines our market is as much about philosophy as it is about specific use. We are encouraged to know our clothing makes sense to discerning people for outdoor recreation and casual wear and that it is providing daily comfort in a variety of work environments. But we are most pleased that our customers feel good not only about the comfort and performance they experience wearing our clothing, but the value it gives them, and the values it serves.