Alpaca United Formed To Promote Alpaca Fiber, Names Hahn CEO

Old Lyme, Conn.-based Alpaca United L3C, a new company formed by a group of North American alpaca
farmers and processors, is gearing up to promote alpaca as a luxury fiber on a par with cashmere,
mohair and vicuña. According to CEO Nicholas Hahn — who served as CEO and president of Cotton
Incorporated in the 1980s and ’90s and oversaw much of its branding and marketing activity leading
up to and during that period — the fledgling alpaca organization is in the process of designing a
logo with a tagline, building a website and developing a social media strategy to help bring the
fiber into the mainstream of the luxury fiber market.

“There is a lot of excitement around this initiative,” Hahn said, noting that approximately
9,000 to 10,000 independent farmers throughout the United States are raising a total of some
210,000 alpaca animals, with the largest numbers in Ohio, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California
and the New England/Mid-Atlantic region. “These farmers were behind the initiative in a way very
similar to the way Cotton Incorporated got started in the 1970s, and the industry is anxious to
start a brand identification program to add value to the fiber. The U.S. textile industry and
consumers are not as knowledgeable as they could be about alpaca.”

Hahn said most of the alpaca fiber produced in the United States is processed domestically at
what he described as “mini-mills” that spin hand-knitting yarn. “It’s primarily a cottage
industry,” he explained. “A lot of farmers raise the animals, shear them and send the fiber to
mills for processing; and hire knitters to make products to sell out of retail stores on the farm
and through websites.”

Alpaca is already used by some commercial manufacturers, including companies such as Gap
Inc., and Hahn said Alpaca United hopes to increase the fiber’s commercial exposure in apparel and
home textiles such as blankets and throws. “There’s not a lot of commercial-level processing going
on, and we want to change this,” he said.

“Alpaca blends well with wool, cotton, silk and cashmere,” Hahn added. “This side of the
business is very much of interest to us, so we can make über-luxury blends, such as alpaca/Supima®
or alpaca/silk. It also dyes very well, and is flame-resistant and hypoallergenic.”

Alpaca United is legally registered in North Carolina as a low-profit limited liability
company (L3C) — sort of a hybridization of a for-profit LLC and a non-profit organization that has
primarily a socially beneficial function, Hahn said. “We will be self-sustaining, but also will
give back to the community. The business plans set up within our structure will be very
low-capital-intensive online kinds of businesses,” he added, mentioning activities such as
auctions, paid-subscription newsletters and other ideas.

March 22, 2011