Lulu Oliver writes: “A few years ago I was sitting on our sofa on a quiet Sunday afternoon indulging in one of my favourite pastimes – reading magazines. In an American publication I came across a picture of a shop in New York selling alpaca products. The rainbow colours and styling of the shop caught my eye. Reading further an idea began to grow in my mind.”

Fast forward two years and many hours of research, Softly Softly was finally launched. Our alpaca ‘adventure’ originally began 10 years ago. We started with two pregnant females as many people do and slowly grew our herd. Concentrating on primarily black alpacas and some careful breeding decisions we began to have success in the show ring. Alongside the breeding and showing we had a healthy sales market with pet males.

We had a number of products made from our fleeces, starting with the usual yarns and hand knitted items. The appetite for the natural colours of alpaca fibre, ranging from black through browns, fawns and greys meant that the occasional surprise of colour in the offspring added to the repertoire of items for sale.

On a trip to Colorado I discovered a shop selling alpaca clothing that was a world away from anything I had seen before – stunning jackets, shawls and a vicuna overcoat priced at $25,000, which for some reason my husband refused to buy me!

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