New business features clothing from alpacas

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Jean Widder models clothing made from alpaca fiber. She and Sarah Donahoe have started a new business, Pacocha Fiber and Clothing Company, which features outfits and accessories for women, and some items for men and children. They also carry personal care items.

A new source for specialty clothing is now available at two locations in Franklin County. Friends Jean Widder and Sarah Donahoe, who met at a trade show, formed the Pacocha Fiber and Clothing Company. They sell Beyond Threads, a line of garments made of alpaca blends. 'Pacocha' means alpaca in the Incan language.

The two raise their own Huacaya alpacas, though their wool is sent to a national co-op and eventually ends up at a mill in Peru. The women expect that some day alpaca will be processed in Pennsylvania. They have seen advancements in the recognition of the value of the animal, which has been elevated from an exotic breed to livestock status in the state.

They each have shops in their homes. Widder's farm, Stone Meadow Alpacas, is at 14514 Hollowell Church Road. Donahoe's Long Acres Alpaca Farm is at 9703 Blue Spring Road in Mercersburg. They opened their stores Nov. 6 and are open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through the new year. Afterwards, they will be open by appointment.

"Our initial goal was to find a clothing line that is sophisticated and classic, to fit all body types," said Widder.

They researched and attended a show in Philadelphia, where they discovered Beyond Threads. The designer lives in Washington state but is a native of Peru.

"It has a lot of style," Widder continued. "The clothes can be worn every day, either dressed up or down."

Pacocha carries several pieces for women - blouses, jackets, scarves, pants, skirts and handbags. Men and children will find some things as well - chullos for skiing, winter caps, mittens, ponchos, diabetic socks, dress socks and hunting socks.

Widder smiled. "If there's anything people do know alpacas for, it's the hunting socks. They have the same properties as wool but not the itch factor."

Pacocha also has articles on the light side, finger puppets and teddy bears. In addition, organic soaps are wrapped in alpaca fiber, which acts as an exfoliant and shrinks as the soap disappears. Yarn from the local alpacas is ready for knitters, as is roving for people who spin and weave.

Accessories for the clothing are also for sale from designer Heather Nowell. The owner of Zen Creations, she makes exclusive jewelry for Pacocha. The necklaces, bracelets and earrings are handcrafted from sterling silver, glass and wood beads, and metal.

Widder and Donahoe answer plenty of questions from the public on learning their livelihoods. "We want to bring awareness to people who ask, 'What do you do with your alpacas?' This is the end product."

Widder may be contacted at 597-4480 and Donahoe at 328-3937.

Jean Widder models clothing made from alpaca fiber. She and Sarah Donahoe have started a new business, Pacocha Fiber and Clothing Company, which features outfits and accessories for women, and some items for men and children. They also carry personal care items.