“Back in 2015, our surfing vacation on South America’s west coast was cut short by a devastating earthquake, so we decided to motorcycle around and see the Andes,” declare 30s-something Steph and Kyle Taylor the originators behind BLACKSAW.
What caught the Toronto couple’s attention, however, was not the snow-capped mountains, but the alpaca grazing as far as the eye could see, and the frothy fabric the local women wove from the fleece. “Then and there,” they say, “we decided to build a sustainable business, designing and manufacturing premium, ethically-sourced, art-inspired alpaca blankets.”
And why not? “Alpaca, especially the baby alpaca fiber, which is the foundation of what we do,” explains Steph, “is as soft as cashmere, seven times as warm as wool, hypoallergenic and durable.”NY Now Winter 2019 Best New Product Accent on Design® & Best in MarketMidnight Sun reversible throw.
Continues Kyle, “We wanted to create something that wasn’t size or gender-specific, with no expiry date and that would be passed on for generations, a ‘meaningful possession’ as we say. And we wanted the people we worked with to have a pro-social approach, ensuring that everyone in the supply chain – from farmers to shearers to truck drivers – is properly compensated and provided educational programs and other such benefits.”
It took hundreds of phone calls – in their broken Spanish– and many months, but they finally found the right partner to oversee the back-end of the operation, purchasing the alpaca fiber, sorting, spinning and getting it to the local weaving facility. Here, under Steph’s guidance, the yarn is woven into blankets of her design with intricately woven art, of varying weights and constructions, reversibility, any number of traits that make them BLACKSAW worthy.
According to Steph, the designs are both modern and vintage, adding that they’re “ a counterbalance of loud minimalism. Not only useful, clients often hang the blankets as wall art.”
Already in its second year of business, the company’s newest offerings are the Zero Dye Collection of blankets made from 100 percent natural, un-dyed alpaca fibers and the 100% Recycled Collection, created from factory off-cuts that would have otherwise ended up as landfill.
Calling it a “privilege” to work with alpaca fiber and their team in South America, the Taylors say of their business, “This is for keeps!”
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