Starting your own small business is a dream for many people and this mother-duo is no exception. Faith and Melissa Lehew of Maypearl combined their love of farm life, animals and handcrafted items to start their very own, unique alpaca fleece products business: Alpacas of Faith.
After watching an episode of “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” Faith and Melissa became fascinated with the fuzzy, short South American creatures known as alpacas. After thinking about it and surprising their family with a Powerpoint, they received the green light and bought four of the gentle animals from a nearby farm in 2014. Initially, the plan was just to show the animals at competitions.
“One way you can show alpacas is for their fleece,” Melissa explained, “but another way you can show alpacas, mainly for youth, is to do obstacle and agility competitions. That’s what we do.”
Faith and Melissa demonstrated, showing the Sun the obstacle course they have set up in their pasture and leading one of their alpacas, Cupid, through the circuit. He climbed bridges, weaved in and out of poles, and jumped bars. They also partner with a local 4-H group to teach young children how to do the competitions. However, even though they do the competitions, Melissa and Faith found they needed a way to supplement the cost of caring for the animals.
“They’re not expensive to feed,” Faith said.
“It’s about the same cost of feeding a big dog every month,” Melissa added, “but now it’s 11 big dogs!” laughed Melissa and Faith, whose initial small herd has grown in the last few years.
The idea to start making products from the alpaca fleece came from when they initially bought the alpacas, and the owner of the other farm showed them the different types of items they could make with the fleece. So, applying their already savvy crafting knowledge, they began to make their own various alpaca fleece products and sell them. It covered the cost for the herd’s care and now it covers the cost of feeding all the animals on their farm.
“We named the business Alpacas of Faith because, yeah, my name is Faith but, more importantly, because of our faith in Jesus Christ,” Faith said with a smile.
Alpacas of Faith makes everything from alpaca fleece dryer balls to crocheted ear warmers. Due to the special nature of alpacas, all of the fleece is completely hypo-allergenic. However, one of Faith and Melissa’s favorite things to make is what they like to call Magic Wool Fairies: dolls made completely out of soft, blended alpaca fleece and sheep wool. They are not hypo-allergenic because of the sheep wool but these rustic dollies are like no other play time friends and are sure to brighten any little girl’s day.
Alpacas of Faith sells its products at Paris Market in downtown Waxahachie and on Etsy at @AlpacasofFaith. If you also happen to be at a craft fair and spot an alpaca, it may just be them.
On Nov. 30, they are inviting everyone out to their farm at 311 Eubanks Road, Maypearl, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. for their second annual Alpacas of Faith Christmas Store. There will be free Christmas snacks and Alpacas of Faith and other local craft vendors will be there selling their products to meet one’s holiday shopping needs. The alpacas will also be around – and you may just get to see El Niño, the youngest member of the herd and Faith and Melissa’s favorite little alpaca.
In their spare time, Melissa is an online English teacher and Faith is the president of Maypearl ISD’s FFA chapter. When Faith graduates, the business will transition more into Melissa’s hands as Faith seeks her higher education but, one thing is for sure, they will both still love the alpacas and the fleece they make.