In 2015, 18-year-old Kris Cody went to hike in the Andes during a gap year before college. Six months later, he came back with a new sweater — and the seed of a business idea.
The rainy season had arrived in Cusco and Cody was freezing, the polyester layers he’d brought to Peru woefully inadequate at 11,000 feet of elevation. So he went sweater shopping, to a half-dozen tiny craft stores scattered around the high-altitude city. Most of the sweaters he tried fit poorly, until he found a small shop down a narrow stairwell, and inside it a gray sweater with thin brown stripes at the shoulders and a nifty pyramid pattern. It was unlike anything he’d seen or touched: soft but sturdy, warm but light. Cody returned the next day and bought eight more, shipping them to family members back home. The sweater was knitted by Gregoria Yucra Chamb from the Peruvian Quechuan tribe, who crafted it from alpaca fur, just like hundreds of artisans across Peru.