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Alpaca ownership was the very beginning of the ‘Stonehill Originals’ vision when, in 2005, Debbie Braunlich purchased her first five alpacas. The herd, now 30 animals, are boarded on a farm in Paarl, Cape Town. Alpaca fibre is sensually soft, comfortable, warm, light, ‘breathes’ well and is very durable. It is regarded as a luxury fibre and is highly sought after in the clothing and interior décor industries.

Organic wool (derived from sheep, goat, rabbit, alpaca, vicuna, yaks etc) is becoming more and more popular as people realise the immense benefits of natural products versus man-made fibres. The ’Campaign for Wool’, patron His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, has been rolling out over the last few years around the world, uplifting the fibre’s profile and potential.

Working with alpaca fibre led to exploration and experimentation with other natural fibres over the last 18 months, to develop a complementary fabric choice that matched the Stonehill vision. Stonehill Originals’ products are produced from alpaca fibre, merino and mohair as well as fine worsted woollen fabrics which are 85% SA merino blended with another natural fibre eg silk or cashmere. Fabrics made from plant fibres are also used. Most fibre and textiles are locally sourced as part of the philosophy to be an ethical contributor to the South African economy.

Learning age-old traditional arts such as felting, developing collaborative relationships with specialists in their fields, conducting skills transfer to Stonehill staff have all been part of the mix over the last two years resulting in the Stonehill Originals’ products ranges launched June 2013.