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After traveling to Peru for the first time in August 2014, University of Wisconsin–Madison alumna Katie Lorenz fell in love with apparel made from alpaca wool.
Lorenz, who graduated from the UW–Madison School of Business in 2012, interacted with alpacas during her trip and brought back a large amount of alpaca clothing to give as gifts.
This sparked an idea. What if she created Wisconsin gear made out of alpaca wool?
“As a die-hard Badger, all I could think about is, "Huh, I really wish I had red and white or red Wisconsin alpaca gear I could wear to games,'” Lorenz says.
Fast forward three years when Lorenz was bed-ridden from an accident. She was looking at an old journal from that first trip and saw her original idea. After that, she decided to go back to Peru in April 2017 to do research, she says. That's when her business CAMPO (pronounced comm-po) truly began.
CAMPO, which launched its Kickstarter campaign May 1, creates high-quality, ethically produced alpaca apparel. The company creates handmade sweatshirts, sweaters, hoodies, beanies, scarves and throw blankets. After undergoing a fair amount of blends, the website says the particular CAMPO blend creates the best softness and durability.
While all of her products are red and white or feature Wisconsin, Lorenz says the products strike a balance between Badger pride and everyday wear.
Since Alpaca wool is a sustainable ecological fiber, Lorenz says one grown alpaca can make four sweaters with its wool as opposed to one cashmere sweater using four goats' fur. Alpaca wool is also hypo-allergenic, lightweight and thermo-regulated.
CAMPO keeps social change at its core. The name itself is a combination of two Spanish words "cambio positivo," which means positive change.
She says her business model "emphasizes the importance of constructing a positive social impact within each community through collaboration and social responsibility." Lorenz currently works with knitters and weavers in Peru to create sustainable supply chains.
“Business should be a force for good as opposed to a force for just profit,” she says.
To help the business get off the ground, Lorenz created a Kickstarter campaign to sell the various products offered by CAMPO. She says all of the funds from the campaign will go into setting up the full-time operation in Peru.
The Kickstarter ends May 31. For more information on the campaign, click here.
Maija Inveiss is digital content editor of Madison Magazine. Find her on Instagram @maija.inveiss.