FLEAKIN' OUT WITH SHABBY ALPACA
Celina Baldwin and Chris Gray, the mother-daughter duo behind Shabby Alpaca, combine a seasoned knowledge of alpaca farming and a knack for ethical product sourcing from far and wide. From warm socks and woolen throws, to clothing and home goods, it's vintage goods and handcrafted treasures for everyone.
What does SHABBY ALPACA mean to you?
Chris: To me, it's an opportunity to work with Celina. It's also a creative outlet. The concept started in a different place—a little shop where I could sell shabby furniture and alpaca stuff—but I like what it's turned into.
Celina: I couldn't get pregnant for four years, and then we decided to adopt. We adopted siblings, and the day before I was going to pick them up I found out I was pregnant. I had three kids in nine months, so I quit my job and my mom moved here. I had been doing little craft fairs to raise money for our adoption, and then when my mom came—she had been an alpaca farmer for years—it became a chance to keep doing something, something where I could get away, be an adult, and have time with my mom.
QUICK FACT #1
We are a mother/daughter team. Chris moved to Colorado from the East coast and our dream of owning a business together was fulfilled.
QUICK Fact #2
Our most frequently asked questions is "Do you have alpacas?" The answer is: Chris (mother) was an alpaca farmer for 13 years before moving to Colorado. She brings the alpaca knowledge to the business- but no, we do not have alpacas!
QUICK FACT #3
Most of our products are ethically sourced from Peru- which is the alpaca's native land. However, we do have some products that are made in the USA.
What's a day in your shoes like?
Every week we sit down together to discuss Shabby Alpaca. We come together with ideas, to review reports, source new products, prepare for markets and work on our marketing. We divide our tasks for the week and each tackle the ones we like the best- except taxes- Chris gets stuck with that one. Although we meet weekly, we still talk daily about Shabby- it's always on our minds how to make our business the best it can be.
Where do you find inspiration?
Obviously, our first inspiration is alpacas; they truly are amazing animals- the fiber they produce really is second to none and the products that are created from alpaca are superior. We are inspired by our customers who tell us how amazing our socks really are or how their sweater from us is their favorite- this kind of feedback motivates us to keep sharing our products with our customers. And finally, we're inspired by each other- our partnership keeps us going- although being a mother/daughter team has challenges, it is all worth it to be able to work together.
What's your greatest accomplishment?
I think our greatest accomplishment is continuing to overcome the obstacles that family business presents. Everything in our lives is intertwined: the grandchildren, our past, our current relationship, our business. It's hard to separate one thing from another. But we work through these challenges and I'm really proud of us for coming to a place where we can work together and still have a healthy relationship.
Where did you get your start?
Celina started selling alpaca goods when she was fundraising for her adoption. When she did finally bring home her two children from the Congo, Africa, her mom Chris decided that she couldn't be so far away from her grandchildren and left her first love of alpaca farming on the east coast for her true love-grandchildren. Together, Chris and Celina started Shabby Alpaca combining Chris's knowledge of alpaca and Celina's creativity and marketing knowledge.