Now that the days are getting chillier, it’s the perfect time to discuss some of the softest and coziest winter accessories I’ve encountered. Meet Jerilyn Paladino, a regular vendor at the Reston Market on Saturdays at Lake Anne Plaza. She operates a company called The Alpaca Girl, which specializes in stylish, handmade garments made of alpaca wool from Peru.
Jerilyn’s products are gorgeous and blissfully soft. A steady stream of shoppers fill her booth each Saturday, eagerly buying her scarves, shawls, hats, and other accessories. When I first met her, I knew very little about alpaca as a fiber, and I was surprised to discover how much I loved it. I can’t wear sheep wool due to my sensitive skin, but I discovered that alpaca wool isn’t itchy and feels lovely to the touch. Jerilyn explained to me that alpaca products are also lightweight, breathable, easy to clean, and eco-friendly. I was fascinated, so I asked her to tell us more.
Please tell us about your connection with Peru and the artisans there.
During the 1980s, I traveled the world and I came to enjoy so many countries and their art. In early 2000, I met a woman that owned a beautiful alpaca farm in Peru. She had approximately 90 animals; they were beautiful, sweet, gentle creatures, and quite funny. With this experience I became familiar with alpacas and their fiber.
In 2007, I decided to start The Alpaca Girl. I wanted to bring this beautiful textile to the states with designs that we would enjoy wearing, while also showing the artistry of the people of Peru. The Peruvian Embassy in DC connected me with rural communities and women’s groups to work with to design and produce garments and accessories.
Your products are so beautiful and stylish. Do you design them, or do the local Peruvian artisans design them? Who creates them?
Every year in January or February, I travel down to Peru to start working on designs for the next season. I work with four different groups of people who produce my designs. They also develop their own pieces that I produce as well. We completely work together!
Which are your favorite products?
Some of my favorite pieces are the boucles, a baby alpaca yarn that has beautiful texture. Once knitted it is so gorgeous. The Jerilyn Shawl is my personal favorite. It is beautiful to wear, soft, warm and very versatile. It can be a shawl or a scarf, wear it with anything – it works!
How often do you plan to be at the Reston Market this fall? Will you be back in 2015?
I so enjoy my time at Reston Market. I have met such wonderful people that have become great customers. It has been a great place for me. I will be at the market until it closes this year, and I will return next year when the season opens. I plan on introducing a cotton line for spring and summer in 2015. Peru has beautiful cotton!
Where else can people buy your products?
- Customers can purchase from my website: www.thealpacagirl.com.
- Eastern Market on Capitol Hill year-round
- Downtown Holiday Market in DC from December 1 – 9
- Christmas Village at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve
- Alexandria’s Holiday Market on December 12-14, and again December 19-23
- Also anyone can get in touch with me though email at [email protected].
The Alpaca Girl is one of many great sources for holiday gifts at the Reston Market. Be sure to read our previous interviews with artists at the Reston Market, including two painters and a photographer. Which vendor is your favorite?