After a number of requests from previous backers and customers, we are launching our next campaign to introduce hand knitting yarn made from rare, exotic, and super warm Mongolian fibers at incredible prices!
Originally coming to Mongolia as a Peace Corps volunteer and then returning to teach English and start my own business, I've felt 5 of the frigid winters that force the free-range animals here to develop their incredible fibers. After successfully funding and delivering our first campaign (Our Homewears), I took the advice of some backers and am expanding into hand knitting yarn!
In Mongolia, most of the spinning facilities are pushed to capacity producing yarn for knitting and weaving machines, which are much thinner than what is generally used in hand knitting. After some searching and networking, I found the perfect partner for a project to make awesome hand knitting yarn. When I was introduced to Zorig, he was really interested in the project and is also really interested in expanding into international markets. His technicians have a long history in spinning yarns, and their machines are able to make yarns with different thicknesses, plys, and twist.
The quality of the yarn is world class, but due to the difficulty in setting up machines for unique thicknesses, we have 50kg (110lb) minimum quantities for new fibers and yarn types. That’s where I need help from you guys!
We’re offering a selection of three fibers to get this project going. To ensure we meet the requirements for all three wools, I’m offering an early bird special to spread the demand across all three fiber types. The Kickstarter special price are wholesale prices, so still an incredible discount on world-class knitting yarn from rare fibers. Where else can you get 100 grams of PURE MONGOLIAN CASHMERE for $25!?!
For more info about the yarn, it’s going to be a 4 ply, DK weight. I’m shooting for the yarn to be between 220-230 yards for 100g. Compared to the sizes/stats that I had samples of and spoke with the technicians about, those numbers should be completely feasible. If the fibers end up more dense than expected, I plan to increase the weight to add length to keep it in range as a fail-safe.
In Mongolia, yak, goats, and camels all produce incredible free-range wools due to the unique Mongolian environment. Mongolia is a vast territory and has many different landscapes and habitats, from the classic open plains, to mountainous regions, to the dunes of the Gobi desert. The different wool producing animals all prefer unique habitats.
The ultimate in luxury. It doesn’t get much better than laying up with cashmere on the coldest days of the year or wrapping up in a cashmere blanket with a cup of coffee. Due to its exceptionally long fiber length, Mongolian cashmere is known for its strength and durability in international markets. Goats only produce small amounts of cashmere on their chins and bellies each season, which makes cashmere rare and expensive.
Preferring colder temperatures and higher elevations, yaks have one of the most particular climates for their incredible wool production. Although not quite as soft as cashmere, yak wool is warmer and more durable than the fiber from its smaller goat friends. Similar to cashmere, yaks only produce the super-fine wool we use for our yarn on their bellies in the cold winter. The rest of their coarser wool is sometimes used for felted goods and fillings.
The massive Bactrian camels in Mongolia do their best in the harsh conditions in the Gobi desert. Due to the low popularity of camel wool products compared to goats, sheep, and yaks, camel numbers have been dropping in Mongolia recently. By increasing demand for these animals, it can stabilize prices for herders in the Gobi and increase the profits for herding families. Super warm and super durable, camel wool is a great substitute for sheep wool in knitting projects.
For stretch goals, we will be adding colors, weights, and fiber types. I really want to offer baby camel yarn, but do to the unique difficulties from the rarity, procurement and pricing is more difficult to plan ahead of time, but would love to add it as an option through the campaign! I'd also like to offer sheep wool as well if it's requested. I have already defined the stretch goals, but it’s flexible, and it'd be great to have some input from you guys about different sizes and colors to add.
All the profits from the campaign are going straight back into inventory, so advice from you guys about what you want will be super valuable!
In order to insure that we can procure the best raw materials available and lock in low prices that make our kickstarter specials feasible, we will be making contracts with herders at the end of winter for our production quantities. Waiting until later in the spring to purchase raw materials brings variability to prices, and opens the possibility of not being able to find materials, especially for the rarer fibers like yak and (hopefully) baby camel wool.
As the winter ends, herders begin harvesting their wools and fulfilling contracts. Cashmere and camel comes first, and then the yak will come closer to summer. The higher elevations that yaks call home require them to keep their downy fibers a bit longer into the spring.
After we get our fibers, we sort the different colors, get the fibers cleaned, then get it spun! We plan to start shipping yarn out in September so everybody has plenty of time to make some warm stuff for winter!
So many! First things first, I hope this campaign takes off and we can build an inventory of yarn to keep providing the world with incredible Mongolian fibers at wholesale prices through our website.
After getting traction, here are a few things I hope to accomplish with ULA+LIA, and also with kickstarter, in the next year!
- Work with co-ops to produce unique hand-spun yarn
- Work with projects that focus on sustainable herding practices in Mongolia to reduce desertification and keep the traditional herding culture alive and well
- Create unique blends from our fibers
- Expand yarn weights and colors
- Work with local companies and projects to expand ULA+LIA's range of quality, Made in Mongolia homewears and lifestyle product line.
Holler at me! Send me a message or leave a comment, and I'll get back to you ASAP. Also, you send me an email at info@UlaAndLia.com. Check out our website for more info about our story and our fibers! www.ulaandlia.com.
Risks and challenges
Due to the large batch minimums, this is a large project from the start, and I hope that with the stretch goals, we can make it HUGE. I have great partners already set, and am confident we will be able to work through any issues that arise with procurement and production. If not, I have other factories and partners here that can help me in both areas if needed.
Please check out my past campaign to check see how I like keeping in touch with customers and keep promises. I ran into some production issues due to the small number of some items, but was able to use my network here to fulfill all the orders and still make holiday delivery for everybody. Some issues ended up really squeezing my margins (i.e. shipping issues), but customer satisfaction and keeping promises will always be the first priority for me. From our first campaign, there were no complaints and no returns or exchanges, and it’s a trend I’m confident will continue for this campaign. That experience will only make this one run smoother.
I’ll be using backerkit to keep things as organized as possible, and also will be using the help of my mom and dad that still live in America with any customer support needed stateside.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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