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Interview with MyAlpaca's owner Magdalena Kot-Kyriazis about the 10th anniversary:

'I was shocked to find out that hand-quilting of duvets as a profession is dying'

The Polish brand MyAlpaca began with a vision to craft the finest duvets and pillows filled with alpaca wool. Since 2014, they've expanded their offerings to meet customer demands, introduced sustainable practices, and preserved traditional hand-quilting techniques. Their 10th-anniversary collection reflects their commitment to quality, innovation, and celebrating their journey. InteriorDaily spoke with the owner and founder, Magdalena Kot-Kyriazis, about this journey from the last ten years.

What inspired you to start MyAlpaca and focus on producing hand-crafted duvets and pillows filled with alpaca wool?
'It all started with my cousin's alpaca farm at the Subcarpathan region of Poland. He collected alpaca wool from a few seasons of shearing and, as many farm owners, wanted to use it for filling duvets. I spent over 20 years in corporate marketing building global brands, I agreed to help with creating the brand and product design. It was in early 2014.

After testing an alpaca duvet prototype I fell in love with the sleep comfort it offered. Alpaca wool is a perfect filling for bedding - healthy, breathable, thermoregulatory and hypoallergenic. Under such a duvet, which adapts to the body temperature, you do not overheat and sleep deeper. Our dream was to make the best duvet in the world, offering people healthy, comfortable and luxurious sleep, so essential to long life and sustained happiness.

Tapping into the current renaissance for craftsmanship, we decided to hand-quilt our duvets and save ancient techniques from being eradicated, whilst producing a high quality, luxury garments. We were lucky to find master quilters who trained our team of manually skilled women in hand-quilting duvets, like it was done hundreds of years ago when sewing machines didn't exist yet.'

How has MyAlpaca evolved since its inception in 2014, particularly in terms of product offerings and market reach?
'In 2014 we started with just two products - an all-seasons duvet and a pillow filled with alpaca wool. But customers were asking for more variety, so quickly we added summer and winter duvets to our portfolio.

Another innovation was also created in response to requests from our customers. They loved sleeping comfort of their alpaca duvets so much and wanted to take them on holidays and asked if we could make a simple bag. Since, we created three collections of convenient travel cases, made from beautiful linen-cotton fabric.

We are a responsible and sustainable company, minimising any materials waste is very important to us. Alpaca wool which is too short or too dark for the duvets and pillows, is used for filling handmade dog beds and decorative cushions, natural and breathable.

We produced already more than 10 000 duvets and pillows. We export our products to more than 20 markets, but we are very happy that Polish consumers know and appreciate MyAlpaca too.'

Could you share some highlights or memorable moments from your journey over the past decade, including any challenges you've faced along the way?
'One important moment that comes to mind is when, back in 2014, I first visited the guild of artisans, looking for master quilters. I was shocked to find out that hand-quilting of duvets as a profession is dying. There were only a few masters left, no more exams were organised for the new ones. It felt so sad that small workshops had to be closed down, not able to compete with machine quilted mass production of bedding.

It was exactly at that moment when the mission to save this old craft from being forgotten was born. We sold our first duvets at design fairs so we could present the products directly to consumers, explain the benefits of alpaca wool and the tell the story of the craft. At one of the fairs, I saw a woman running to me through the crowd. I remembered selling her a duvet a few months earlier and my first thought was that she had a problem. But she just gave me a big hug and said "I love my alpaca duvet, just wanted to thank you." It brought tears to my eyes, a small but meaningful confirmation that we were making something beautiful and also useful.

As many small businesses, we face many challenges of course. Some are related to the small scale, like minimum order quantities of materials. I remember that at the beginning a 1000 meters of expensive casing fabric felt like two years of stock, and we could not order less.

Smaller scale business is more expensive operationally which makes it difficult to compete on price with the big market players. So, we focused on the benefits of bespoke production and hand-quilting method offering more flexibility. Bedding sizes very a lot from market to market. By producing by hand, to order, we can make even one duvet per size, without a need of building stock due to the minimum machine runs.'

What sets MyAlpaca apart from other textile brands, and how do you maintain the balance between preserving traditional craft techniques and incorporating modern design elements?
'Traditional techniques are a framework, but from the very beginning we are working closely with designers, being open to product and packaging design innovations. For example, our duvets and pillows have extended corners to better fit into the corners of duvet covers and pillow cases. Duvets also have loops in the corners, allowing to connect two duvets together for colder nights with cotton ties or to attach your duvet to a duvet cover with ties sewn into it on the inside.

Our packaging is beautifully designed, made from quality cotton, finished with utmost attention to detail. Consumers notice it and appreciate it, even if it comes at a premium price.'

What can customers expect from MyAlpaca's special anniversary collection, and how does it reflect the brand's ethos and commitment to quality craftsmanship?
'To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we asked Bärbel Dressler, a Swedish pattern designer, to create for us a special version of a traditional end of XVIII century toile de jouy pattern. Bucolic scenes of alpacas resting in nature are a quintessence of what the brand stands for – a healthy comfortable sleep.

We wanted to bring joy, surprise with a colour fitting the occasion. A vibrant pink fondant is like an icing on our birthday cake. From the toile fabric we made a collection of travel cases for duvets and pillows, added matching pink fondant baby alpaca throws. We are grateful to all the partners and consumers for choosing MyAlpaca products during the last 10 years and years to come.'

More information:
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