Download Free Sock and Handwear Comparison Graphics!

09/15/2020
by Michelle Just

 


We’re often asked whether alpaca farmers can use our photos and descriptions of NEAFP products on their personal pages. The answer is always a resounding YES! Part of our job is to make it easier for you, the alpaca farmer, to successfully run the fiber side of your business.

We know you’re busy tending your herd, taking inventory of your products, and arranging your next market, so it might not always be easy to photograph products or create business collateral. in 2018 we debuted our Marketing & Collateral section of the website (which can be viewed when signed in to your shopping account) where you can purchase printed and downloadable posters for your favorite NEAFP products.

Our latest edition of free content are two product comparison graphics. Sized at 8.5" x 11" for at-home printing, our sock and handwear comparison graphics can be posted at the farm or on your website!
 


 

DOWNLOAD FREE GRAPHICS
Sock Comparison Graphic Handwear Comparison Graphic
Download Printable JPEG

Download Printable JPEG

Download Shareable JPEG
(web version)
Download Shareable JPEG
(web version)

Article: A Change in the Seasons: Farms Continue to Adapt into the Busy Harvest Season

09/11/2020
by Michelle Just

In June we put the spotlight on the way farms and small businesses were adapting to changes brought about by the pandemic. Alpaca farms got creative by offering drive-through tours, visiting quarantined nursing home residents, and “Zooming” into the homes of alpaca fans around the globe.

The harvest season is perhaps the busiest time of year for farms of all types, and the cooler weather typically coincides with the hustle and bustle of farmers markets and craft fairs that extend into the winter months. Despite restrictions, farms continue to adapt and make the most of their current circumstances.
 

Shared Resources

In the preceding months, organizations like the Cornell Small Farms Program have released resources to support farms as they navigate current challenges. For example, the Program’s “Best Management Practices for Agritourism Farms During the COVID-19 Pandemic” offers guidance to a wide range of farm types based on NY state law. Their best practices are highly valuable to those in and out of NY state looking for alternatives to traditional farm visits or suggested safety precautions. Looking for more resources? Check out NAFDMA / International Agritourism Association’s industry resource page.

Shared Experiences

 


 

“It’s a different kind of year isn’t it? Our fall agritourism season provides the bulk of our annual income, so we are very anxious about how it will turn out...Unless there are new developments, we believe we will be opening with precautions such as more cleaning and sanitizing, more hand-wash and hand sanitizing stations, facemasks encouraged and so on... We are sure the field trips will be much fewer but we have hopes that families will be hungry for outdoor activities to participate in.”      -Wayne Bishop, Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm, Wheatland, Yuba County

With fall officially beginning in the next few weeks, farms are thinking about how to make the season work. In July, farmers throughout California came together to share their thoughts and for the Fall 2020 season. Though their reactions were varied, they all found ways to pivot their business strategies to the foreseen challenges, whether they plan to move some of their business online or change their site or ticketing to allow for proper distancing.
 

A Fruitful Harvest

 


So how are some of our favorite fall activities adapting? Leeds Farm, a popular spot for pumpkin picking in Ostrander, OH implemented ample sanitizing stations and offers advanced purchase tickets to allow for proper distancing. For those looking for fall blooms, Windmill Meadow Farm in Fredricksburg, CA offers a private tour of their flower farm by reservation, ensuring strict social distancing. Visitors get an in-depth look behind the scenes and go home with their own bouquet.  “U-Pick” orchards have also had to make changes, including limiting group sizes and assigning visitors to particular rows. Some farms have found surprising benefits to new restrictions  - one being that less product is eaten out in the field when masks are worn!
 

Moving Forward


 

It goes to show that farms, alpaca farmers included, have found numerous ways to persevere under our current challenges. As we approach our busy season, flexibility will continue to be key. You may decide to branch out and offer opportunities to virtual learners, like Good Karma Ranch Alpacas. Or perhaps like Chakana Sky Alpaca Farm, you’ll rely on appointments to bring visitors through the door. If one thing is for certain, however, even when the world is at a standstill, farm life carries on. 

We hope that these Business Resource Blog Posts have been helpful.
Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in a future post? Write to us at support@neafp.com

NEW Downloadable Content: September Coloring Page!

08/27/2020
by Michelle Just

We're Ready for Cool Crisp Mornings and Some Apple Cider Donuts...

Our alpaca friends are enjoying all that fall has to offer at their local apple orchard in the latest coloring page!

Download the printer-friendly files here!

PDF Download - September Alpaca Coloring Page

High Resolution JPG Download - September Alpaca Coloring Page

Be sure to share your finished artwork on Social Media with us!



Have an idea for a future graphic? Email us your ideas to support@neafp.com

New Shareable Graphic: How to Support Alpaca Farms

08/21/2020
by Michelle Just

There are a lot of alpaca fans out there who would love to support your farm, even if they don't have the ability to purchase your products. Share this graphic on social media to show them that they can still support in order meaningful ways to get your business out there!

View it on Facebook here and share it with your alpaca supporters!

Download the full-sized version here:

High Resolution JPG Download 

 

Download the Free Alpaca Fiber Properties Handout

08/21/2020
by Michelle Just

 

We’re often asked whether alpaca farmers can use our photos and descriptions of NEAFP products on their personal pages. The answer is always a resounding YES! Part of our job is to make it easier for you, the alpaca farmer, to successfully run the fiber side of your business.

We know you’re busy tending your herd, taking inventory of your products, and arranging your next market, so it might not always be easy to photograph products or create business collateral. in 2018 we debuted our Marketing & Collateral section of the website (which can be viewed when signed in to your shopping account) where you can purchase printed and downloadable posters for your favorite NEAFP products.

We're following up last week's post with some fresh downloadable content, this time on the amazing properties of alpaca fiber! This graphic is conveniently sized for 8.5 x 11" printer paper, so print it out and bring it to your next market!


DOWNLOAD HERE:

Download the Free Alpaca Fiber Properties Handout (JPEG)

Download the Free Alpaca Fiber Properties Handout (High Quality PDF)

 

Article: Customer Retention: Building Customer Loyalty for your Ecommerce Business

08/10/2020
by Michelle Just

Do you have customers who return to you, year after year, to purchase your alpaca products? You might be surprised to hear that these repeat customers could be the backbone of your alpaca business.

Many businesses focus their efforts on acquiring new customers, but from a financial standpoint, retaining past customers is a more cost effective strategy. Consider that repeat customers make up 65% of revenue for a typical online store. Satisfied customers are more likely to make larger purchases in the future, versus new customers who may make a smaller purchase to test out your product. Repeat customers are also more likely to recommend or review your business in a positive light. Remember, word of mouth is still the most powerful (and free!) form of marketing available to small businesses. 

The overall experience that you build for your customers throughout each interaction can instill a sense of loyalty to your brand, propelling them to return for future purchases. From your website, to the order process, to the delivery, and regular e-mail correspondence, you can use these tools to build customer loyalty for your ecommerce business.

 

Before the Sale

Businesses often utilize loyalty programs or subscription-based ordering to cultivate return customers, but gaining customer trust can be built into the experiences you already offer.

If you have a standalone ecommerce website, consider customer accessibility. Make sure that it’s easy to use and streamline your order process to make it as simple as possible to make a purchase. If possible, test out your website on a willing “outsider.” Ask a friend or family member to go over the website as if they were a customer. Does the information make sense? Do they have trouble ordering? Chances are that they will see things you don’t with fresh eyes!

If you are selling on a different platform like Etsy, your focus instead will be on making your brand stand out from your competitors through your copywriting and product photography. 

Regardless of the platform, customers are interested in more than just your products, they want to know the values behind your brand. 89% of customers are likely to be loyal to a brand if it’s values align with their own. Keep your customers coming back with interesting content like email newsletters with store updates, blogs that captivate their attention, and by engaging with them on social media. The content you create should be consistent with the feel of your brand and its values across all customer experience touchpoints, including your website, social media pages, product photography, blog, packaging, and emails. Need some hints on where to begin creating your brand story? Check out our previous article on Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Promote your Alpaca Business. 
 



After the Sale


A purchase isn’t necessarily complete after you receive payment. Customers continue to gauge their experience throughout the buying process. Something as simple as an order confirmation or shipping notification can instill a stronger sense of trust in your brand.

This order confirmation from Polaroid provides the necessary shipping information, in addition to pointing customers to their FAQ to get started learning about their products.
 

When making sales face-to-face, you may sell your products in branded gift bags, but what about orders going out by mail? Today, almost anything can be ordered online and shipped to your door, so it’s important that your delivery stands out when it arrives alongside other packages, especially as the unboxing experience has become just important as the product inside, for those individuals who savor the excitement and anticipation of opening a gift. Heighten the customer experience with a well-presented product in a unique, branded package. Something as simple as neatly wrapped tissue paper and a handwritten note goes a long way in making a good impression!

More and more, companies are opting to ship using bespoke packaging that is more inline with their brand's story. Think of ways to incorporate your brand's story clearly into your packing materials. Do you focus on alpaca's environmentally friendly characteristics? Opt for recycled packing materials! Do you want your customers to feel connected to your animals? Include a bio of one of your alpacas in every purchase!

Branded packaging, decorative tissue paper, and green shredded paper give this box its unique and memorable appeal.

 

Following Up


Once you’ve sent out an order, be sure to follow up with an email to keep your business fresh in the customer’s memory. The email can be a simple “thank you,” or perhaps an action-oriented email.

A follow up email is a great opportunity to get customer feedback on their shopping experience. It can also be a good time to recommend other products for future purchase. Be sure to ask customers to review or give feedback on your products. Positive customer testimonials can then be included in future marketing materials!


Your follow up can be a simple "thank you," or you can use it to keep your customers engaged. This email from Revolution Tea rewards customers for taking part in a survey after their previous purchase. As shown in the email, they received useful customer testimonials through offering the survey.

Regardless of how you are making sales (in person or online) it’s always smart to compile an email list of your past customers. If you plan to run any promotions, these are the individuals you want to target! Remember, email is your most powerful e-marketing tool, so make sure you use it! 

 

Focus on Acquisition AND Retention!


Take some time over the next few weeks to pay attention to who your customers are. Are they first timers or repeat customers? Do they frequently visit your website and make purchases? You can even use a formula to calculate your Customer Retention Rate. Survey or interview some of your most loyal customers to find out what resonates with them about your business. Take that information and utilize it when you are crafting your overall customer experience. While it's always important to attract new customers, don't forget the importance of retaining past customers!

 

We hope that these Business Resource Blog Posts have been helpful.
Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in a future post? Write to us at support@neafp.com

 

 

 

 

NEW Downloadable Content: August Coloring Page!

07/28/2020
by Michelle Just

Beat the Summer Heat with our Latest Free Coloring Page!

These alpacas are taking off to the local Farmer's Market to beat the heat and have a bit of fun!

Download the printer-friendly files here!

PDF Download - August Alpaca Coloring Page

High Resolution JPG Download - August Alpaca Coloring Page

Be sure to share your finished artwork on Social Media with us!



Have an idea for a future graphic? Email us your ideas to support@neafp.com

Article: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Promote your Alpaca Business

07/17/2020
by Michelle Just

Storytelling is not restricted to books or movies, though you’d probably agree that a good story can make or break either! A good story can also bolster your marketing efforts and showcase your business. Don’t dust off the typewriter just yet, however, as today’s audiences are looking for stories that span multiple platforms beyond the written word. Using storytelling or emotional branding can be an extremely effective marketing tool, and we’re certain that alpaca farmers have many stories to tell!

Your story can showcase the values of your business, farm and products to your potential biggest fans. When people resonate with you on a value level, they will be much more willing to support your business. Consider your values as a business owner and an alpaca farmer and how you can showcase those to your potential audiences. With e-commerce becoming even more prevalent this year, the connection that people would normally make face-to-face at a market is occurring more frequently online. Now, the conversations you've had in person, educating the public about alpacas and their fiber, can be translated into the digital world through storytelling.
 

What Makes a Good Story?

How can you harness the power of storytelling to promote your business? Begin by considering what makes a good story.
 


Odds are that you remember at least one of your favorite childhood stories: Perhaps it was a fairy tale that taught a valuable lesson or simplify a complex concept, or maybe it was a narrative meant to inspire change in the reader.

Most stories have a number of commonalities that make them easily consumable: they are easy to understand, memorable, believable, useful, or inspiring. These aspects of traditional storytelling can translate to the story you want to tell about your business.
 

 

Where and how can you tell your story?


At NEAFP, we tell our story in various mediums across a number of different platforms. We use text, photographs, and videos on our website, blogs, and social media accounts to tell the story of our business, the products, and the animals and farms that make it all possible.
 

We encourage you to think outside the box with these storytelling methods:

Text-Based

Have you ever found yourself scrolling through someone’s blog like it was a good book you couldn’t put down? Text-based storytellers dominate on blog posts, websites, and throughout other forms of social media. Of course, they may also grab audiences in more traditional forms like articles or essays.

Image-Based

They say a picture says a thousand words: a good one can certainly do so for your business! Whether it’s an infographic, illustration, or photograph that grabs the attention of your audience, images are the storytelling device of choice on many social media platforms, such as Instagram.

Video-Based

Whether shared on your social media page, website, or directly to YouTube, a video is a great way to tell your story because it combines audiovisual elements. Music, speech, and video footage can combine to create a narrative that resonates with your audience.
 

What are some examples of successful storytelling?


Companies both big and small utilize different forms of storytelling to captivate and interact with their audiences.
 

Text-Based Storyteller: Bee Haven Acres
 

Bee Haven Acres is a blog run by farmer Bee Haven Bev, who documents daily farm life in great detail. Her posts include detailed textual descriptions along with photographs that give a feel for the passing of the seasons on the farm, and the people and animals who are a part of the farm. Her writing style, coupled with her almost daily updates, makes for a very intimate reading experience.
 

Image-Based Storyteller: Shinola Detroit
 

Shinola Detroit is a luxury goods company based in Detroit, MI that manufactures watches, bicycles, and leather goods, among other artisan products. A quick look at their Instagram tells you that their identity is intertwined with their Detroit roots. This story comes across in the photos that they share, that feature not just the products, but the city and members of the community.
 

Video-Based Storyteller: Warby Parker
 

Warby Parker’s “How Warby Parker Glasses Are Made” tells the viewer not only the problem their company set out to solve in it’s creation, but also how their product is made in great detail. The video goes, step-by-step through the process of creating affordable, high quality glasses.
 

What is YOUR Story?


So alpaca farmers, what is YOUR story? As you continue to update your websites, and post to social media start thinking about sharing the following:
 

  • How and why did you start your farm/business?
  • What made you decide to raise alpacas?
  • What are your favorite aspects of alpaca ownership?
  • What is the story behind your favorite alpaca products?
  • How has your farm and or business helped you and your family?


We've compiled a list of these and other helpful questions into a worksheet to get you to start thinking about the story you want to tell you customers!

***Download a free full-sized PDF version here!***

There are numerous aspects of your business that you can approach from a storytelling perspective. Audiences are eager to learn more about the how and why of your business, and interact with you as you tell that story, so get brainstorming!

 

We hope that these Business Resource Blog Posts have been helpful.
Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in a future post? Write to us at support@neafp.com

 

 

 

 

New Product: BOLD Survival Socks - Tie Dye Edition! (Limited Small Batch)

07/01/2020
by Michelle Just

The Unicorns are getting restless and have started adding a splash of flair to more of our U.S. alpaca products.

Introducing their latest creation:

BOLD Survival Socks - Tie Dye Edition

These truly unique and one of a kind Tie Dye lots are perfect for someone looking for an excuse to buy another pair of their favorite socks.

Due to the nature of these Tie Dye edition socks, no two pairs are exactly the same!

New Tie Dye socks can be found in the Limited Small Batch section of the website, which can only be viewed when signed into your shopping account. Our Limited Small Batch products are done in small lots and are not part of our regular production items. If you see a colorway you like, be sure to scoop it up as we will not keep these items in regular stock.

Available in our 2 most popular sizes: Medium and Large

Our Survival Sock is a terry loop lined mid-weight sock designed for a wide range of outdoor activities and climates. The soft alpaca terry loops are combined with a durable nylon outer shell. Reinforced foot arch band and a ribbed knit ankle support ensure a proper fit every time. This warm and comfortable sock is our best selling style across the country!

Alpaca is naturally Hypo-allergenic, Odor Resistant, Temperature Regulating when dry or wet, and Moisture Wicking, making it one of the best natural fibers on the planet!

Contents: 78% U.S. Alpaca, 20% Nylon, and 2% Lycra.

Care Instructions: Machine Wash and Dry, See Label

Color: Varying Pink and Blue Tie Dye, no two pairs are the same!

New Products: BOLD All Terrain & BOLD Fingerless Gloves

06/26/2020
by Michelle Just

We're launching BOLD versions of some of most popular alpaca gloves!
 

Our All Terrain Gloves and Fingerless Gloves are now available in BOLD Versions! Find them in the Fiber Pricing and Wholesale sections of the website under "BOLD All Terrain Gloves" and "Bold Fingerless Gloves." Available in two popular colors, Slate Grey and Mulberry, these two new styles will make quite the statement when paired with matching BOLD hats and alpaca scarves!
 



BOLD All Terrain Gloves

Our popular All Terrain Gloves are now available in BOLD dyed colors! These classic mid-weight alpaca gloves will keep your hands warm during a wide range of outdoor activities! Alpaca's natural characteristics, it's semi-hollow core and moisture wicking properties, make it a great fit for gloves. BOLD gloves look great with a matching scarf or hat!

Contents: 80% U.S. Alpaca, 20% Nylon

BOLD Fingerless Gloves

Our popular Fingerless Gloves are now available in BOLD dyed colors! Mid-weight Fingerless Gloves have the same construction as our All Terrain Terrain Gloves, but are perfect for tasks requiring a sure fingered grip or cellphone use.When you want the warmth of alpaca, but require the practical use of your fingers, the Fingerless Glove is a great option. BOLD gloves look great with a matching scarf or hat!

Contents: 80% U.S. Alpaca, 20% Nylon

NEAFP will be closed for our annual summer break starting on July 3rd

06/23/2020
by NEAFP Co

We will be closed for our annual summer break starting July 3rd and will be back in the saddle starting Monday, July 13th.

If you have a time-sensitive order, be sure to get it in by July 1st so we can make sure it's on its way to you before we close for our summer break.

We hope you all have a safe and relaxing holiday!

NEW Downloadable Content: July Coloring Page!

06/19/2020
by Michelle Just

Let Freedom Ring!

Celebrate the 4th early by coloring a trio of alpacas who have gotten into the spirit of the holiday.

Download the printer-friendly files here!

PDF Download - July Alpaca Coloring Page

High Resolution JPG Download - July Alpaca Coloring Page

Be sure to share your finished artwork on Social Media with us!


Have an idea for a future graphic? Email us your ideas to support@neafp.com

New & Newly Updated Products Now Available!

06/12/2020
by Michelle Just

NEW BOLD Backpacas in two fresh hues and
Updated Watch Caps and Cable Alpaca Beanies are here!

 

NEW!
BOLD Backpaca Socks

Our fastest growing alpaca sock, now available in a BOLD Splash of color!

Our BACKPACA Sock is a lightweight hiker sock designed for you to forget it's even on while you march through the wilderness or dance the night away.  Terry loop construction along the sole of the foot provides cushion, padding, and comfort where it's most needed. The ribbed knit along the top of the foot and up the calf allow for increased breathability and moisture wicking. Dense knit construction along with arch and ankle support bands keep the sock tightly in place throughout the day without bunching, slipping, or blisters on the trail.

U.S. Alpaca will keep it's temperature regulating properties both when dry or wet. It's also naturally antimicrobial, bacteria and odor resistant, making it a perfect fit for that next long outdoor adventure.

If you love U.S. Alpaca Socks and have wished for a lightweight, less bulky option, particularly in those warmer climates and months then this is the sock for you!

Contents: 60% U.S. Alpaca, 35% Recycled Nylon, and 5% Lycra.
Care Instructions: Gentle Wash & Tumble Low - See Label for Details.



NEW and IMPROVED!
Cable Alpaca Beanie

This classic alpaca hat just got even better. We've completely overhauled the design of the Cable Alpaca Beanie to make it softer, warmer, and more comfortable to wear.

We’ve made these improvements while keeping the timeless look and feel of the hat.  

Featuring chunky cables of our finest Alpaca Fiber, the fit of our Cable Alpaca Beanie has been newly improved to wear more like a beanie style hat.

A Microfleece headband lining has been added for additional warmth. The lining helps block the wind, insulating your ears and neck, while the top of the hat still breathes so you don't overheat. 

Pairs well with our Cable & Lace Scarves! Soft, warm, and stylish!

Content:
Outer Shell: 80% U.S. Alpaca, 20% Recycled Nylon
Inner Headband Lining: 100% Microfleece


 



NEW and IMPROVED!
Watch Cap

We've updated the design and construction to increase the size around the forehead, greatly improving its overall fit.

The Watch Cap is a timeless style dating back to 1885, first worn by U.S. Navy enlisted personnel on duty in cold weather conditions.

Since it's inception over 130 years ago little has changed to the design and it remains a very popular style year after year.
 
Our version of this classic replaces the boiled wool of yesteryear and increases its curb appeal with Alpaca.

While exploring the great outdoors, the U.S. Alpaca jersey knit outer shell acts as a natural insulator and temperature regulator to keep you warm and comfortable.

The micro-fleece inner lining will block wind around the top of your head, ears, and forehead.

Wear it folded up as a traditional watch cap or folded down as a modern slouch beanie.

Built for warmth, this hat is knit to an Adult - One Size Fits Most size.

U.S. Grown, U.S. Made Alpaca Since 1997

Content: Outer Shell: 80% US Alpaca, 20% Recycled Nylon Inner Lining: Microfleece

Article: The New Normal and a Renewed Support for U.S. Alpaca

06/08/2020
by Michelle Just


Now more than ever, communities across the country realize the importance of supporting small business, buying local, and shopping sustainably. U.S. Alpaca is at the forefront of a renaissance in local agriculture, U.S. manufacturing, and a call for more sustainable fashion. Over the past few months, we’ve been forced to rethink the ways in which we live, work, and shop. We know how resilient our farmers are, however, as you’ve quickly adapted to survive and even thrive under new conditions. 
 
#LOVEALPACA


A convoy of cars waits to "visit" with alpacas during one of Harvard Alpaca Ranch's drive-through tours.

Many alpaca farmers were already poised for success at the beginning of 2020, a vast majority having e-commerce websites, customer email lists, and active social media pages from which they could stay in contact with their followers. At the beginning of the crisis, farms like Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm began offering virtual farm tours to bring the alpaca farm into the homes of their visitors. Harvard Alpaca Ranch found overwhelming success offering drive-through alpaca farm tours. Their first was so successful (over 80 cars attended and over $800 was raised for charity!) that they ended up offering not one, but three iterations of the popular event. It wasn’t long before alpacas were outside windows cheering up quarantined nursing home residents, or meeting new friends through Zoom meetings at Apple Hill Farm. Despite everything, alpacas continued to capture positive attention around the globe and alpaca farmers put the “Do Good” in “Feel Good, Do Good.”

 
Alpacas at Apple Hill Farm have traveled all over the country (and the world!) through Zoom meetings.
 
 
A Changing Landscape



Farmer's Markets like this one in Petaluma, CA are open, but with some new restrictions.

Consumers found new ways to feed their families after “Big Agriculture” struggled to meet the demands of a strained food system, leading to crowded grocery stores with empty shelves. Local farmers, co-ops, and CSAs offered a safer alternative allowing customers to purchase fresh produce directly from the person that grew the food. More and more individuals began purchasing shares in their local CSAs, guaranteeing them access to a regular supply of healthy food. Now both customer and farm reap the benefits of a person-to-person sale. Farmers finding success in these trying times hope that consumers will continue to support local agriculture as restrictions ease up and farmer’s reopen, and chances are that many will.

A Clearer Consciousness



How will stores deal with the excess inventory of product they have accumulated since closing?
 

Shopping has changed too, as stores were shuttered, we were forced to change our consuming habits. Super-producing fast fashion brands remain overwhelmed with unmovable inventory, meanwhile researchers have discovered a shift in consumer habits. A study by Accenture U.S. found that more and more consumers are making purchases online. Shoppers are thinking more consciously about what they’re buying and where they’re buying it, making more sustainable choices, and prioritizing local producers that they trust. If the fashion industry can adopt the tenets of the slow fashion movement and make changes to meet these new habits, it could be a huge victory for the environment and U.S. Alpaca. While alpaca farmers already understand the benefits of investing in a product that’s all natural and made to last (regardless of seasonal trends!), imagine the impact an industry-wide shift could have!
 

Some consumers are relearning the art of mending and darning to preserve quality products instead of buying fast fashion.
 

A Strange New World



The world may have changed, but our love for alpaca remains!

 

As farmer’s markets begin opening up across the country with a variety of new safety precautions, it’s likely that these past few months will make a lasting impact on shopping habits, translating into sales for small businesses. Online shopping has become more popular across a wider range of demographics than ever before, so there is no better time to focus on updating your email lists, focusing on your social media pages, and fine-tuning your e-commerce site. 

Who knows what other changes could be just around the corner? You may see a surge in customers as more remote workers move from the city to suburbs and rural areas, or perhaps you’ll attract novice crafters who learned new skills like knitting during quarantine. Sentiment is up as we all adapt to this strange new world. We’re hoping that U.S. Alpaca emerges stronger than ever, due to the can-do spirit of our farmers and the push for more local, sustainable products from consumers. Let’s do this!

We hope that these Business Resource Blog Posts have been helpful.
Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in a future post? Write to us at support@neafp.com

 

 

 

 

NEW Downloadable Content: June Coloring Page!

06/02/2020
by Michelle Just

Summer is almost here!

Spring makes way for warm and sunny days. Our newest coloring page will make you want to put your camelid toes in the sand!

Download the printer-friendly files here!

PDF Download - June Alpaca Coloring Page

High Resolution JPG Download - June Alpaca Coloring Page

 

p.s. We have not one, but two coloring pages to keep you busy this month! Happy Belated Spring from NEAFP!

PDF Download - April/May Alpaca Coloring Page

High Resolution JPG Download - April/May Alpaca Coloring Page


Have an idea for a future graphic? Email us your ideas to support@neafp.com

2020 Fiber Collection Survey

05/20/2020
by NEAFP Co

2020 Fiber Collection Survey

TAKE THE 2020 FIBER COLLECTION SURVEY HERE!

With COVID19 canceling the 2020 Spring Show and Fiber Collection season and potentially affecting Summer and Fall events, we are looking to gather some information on fiber.

If you are planning on submitting fiber to NEAFP in 2020 then this survey is for you!

This information is vital in helping us plan where the highest demand for collection is and working together to get the fiber out of the field and into production this year.

It will also help us direct farms to their best options as well as work with national and regional organizations to facilitate collection on behalf of their members. 

If you know of a farm that this may be of interest to, please share the survey link!

TAKE THE 2020 FIBER COLLECTION SURVEY HERE!
 

Thank you very much!
-New England Alpaca Fiber Pool

April 2020 NEAFP Note: Stay Home and Wear Alpaca

04/10/2020
by NEAFP Co

APRIL 2020 NEAFP Note Newsletter

Stay Home and Wear Alpaca - Read the Full Newsletter Here

Get our Newsletter delivered to your inbox every month, subscribe here!

Missing our Alpaca Peeps


It's been an unprecedented few weeks to say the least. We wanted to reach out to everyone to keep you in the loop with all that's happening here at the fiber pool. With Massachusetts issuing a Shelter in Place mandate for all non-essential businesses, the majority of our staff are home safe and sound doing their part to help flatten the infection curve (which is showing promising signs!).

Although the MA order is scheduled to be lifted on May 4th, a handful of us are taking turns manning the mill to accept fiber shipments, ship out orders, and continue to receive knit goods from our manufacturing partners.

One of the MANY benefits of having a domestic supply chain, particularly in the textile industry where many mills have government contracts, is the majority of our partners are still up and operational as they are deemed essential businesses.

As you read this newsletter, U.S. Alpaca fiber is being spun into yarn, sock machines are knitting alpaca 16 hours a day, a years worth of boot insert material is felting, and a pair of gloves or mittens are being produced every few minutes.

Although the majority of the country (and the world) is in the middle of taking ONE BIG NAP, U.S. Alpaca isn't sleeping and cranking away in preparation for an exciting Fall and Winter busy season. When the pendulum of demand is artificially held in one direction for too long, it can only swing one way.

We certainly are in uncharted territories, something the world has not experienced in the majority of our lifetimes. With so much change coming rapidly, it's a perfectly normal human response to feel a sense of PANIC, at first!

Face the challenges a head with joy, don't waste your energy on fighting or trying to control things that are out of your hands.

We don't know what 2 months or 2 years from now will look like but it will be different. Life will reform after this crisis, and there will be silver linings your farm and business will be able to take advantage of. Move slowly and deliberately, use this time wisely, when was the last time you had this much "free" time cooped up?

We look forward to helping you navigate these uncharted territories in the months to come. In the mean time - please keep yourselves, your families, and your alpacas safe and sound!
 

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Article: Use Gift Cards to Increase Sales

03/30/2020
by NEAFP Co

Increase your Sales and Brand Loyalty

with the help of gift cards

 

By Brianna Paon
Updated 3/30/2020

Over the course of the past few years, many farms have seen an immediate pop in sales simply by accepting additional payment methods other than cash. Less people are carrying large amounts of cash and are transitioning to using debit or credit cards for the majority of their daily purchases. With the steadily growing use of card payments, small businesses are beginning to incorporate not only debit and credit cards, but gift cards as well, due to their convenience and flexibility for everybody involved----the buyer, the receiver and the merchant. They are easy to set up and even easier to spend.

Gift cards are an extremely useful asset for any business, large or small, due to the simple fact that they help enhance what every business aims for: increase in sales. There are always new and creative methods one can come up with for generating extra revenue, but having gift cards available for your customers does much of that work for you! It is estimated that 72% of customers using gift cards are more likely to spend more than the value of the card. People are typically less hesitant to buy a high-priced item at its full price because it is easy to view a gift card as “free money”, making them feel less bad for spending more of their own money in addition. Gift cards are also flexible because they allow the buyer to choose a designated amount based on their budget. They also allow the person receiving the gift card to choose something of their liking, lessening the inquiry of returns or exchanges.


One of the most popular POS systems that small businesses are utilizing now is SQUARE. Fortunately, Square now offers personalized gift cards offered in several tiers to work with businesses of any size. As a bonus, these gift cards also work as excellent marketing tools. Look at it as your gift card being essentially the same thing as your business card, except with monetary value, helping to better your business further through brand awareness.

An awesome advantage to using Square gift cards is that there is no additional cost other than the physical cards themselves----no redemption fee, no contract, no monthly subscription. They are reasonable in price and very simple to use! Redeeming a gift card is as easy as taking a debit or credit card through SQUARE. Using gift cards, or any cards for that matter should be a simple and easy process for both the customer and the merchant. As our experience shows, the more options you give your present and future customers to pay for your alpaca products, the more you increase the total number of transactions and overall sales revenue.

Not currently using SQUARE to process credit and debit payments? Not a problem! There are a number of other gift card programs that offer very similar features at similar costs----any program you choose will prove to be beneficial in multiple ways, including a spike in sales and brand awareness in your local community at the very least. If you are looking to scope out additional gift card program options aside from Square, check out some of the resources provided below so that you can choose what is best for you and your business for this coming holiday season!

Other program options:

www.swipeit.com

www.plasticresource.com

www.instoredoes.com

Further reading:

www.squareup.com/gift-cards

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 Update from the Fiber Pool

03/23/2020
by NEAFP Co

COVID-19 Update from NEAFP

Update 4/6/2020

The state of MA has issued a shelter in place order and has closed all non-essential businesses until May 4th, 2020. During this time NEAFP will be closed to all visitors, fiber drop offs, and order pickups. The majority of our staff is home and safe with their families and we will continue to ship out all orders placed during this time and look forward to hitting the ground running once back to work! Thank you for your patience!

Update 3/17/2020

Over the last several weeks the COVID-19 phenomenon has grasped our attention fully as it has a direct impact on many aspects of our personal and professional lives. Many of the 2020 Spring Alpaca Shows have begun to be cancelled due to the CDC recommendations of limiting gatherings over 50 people. Although a hard decision for any board, we believe it is the correct one as social distancing is one of our best efforts in flattening out the infection rate curve.

With our fiber collections being cancelled at AOA Nationals in Indiana, PAOBA Breeders Showcase in Pennsylvania, and the North American Alpaca Show in Massachusetts, we know how important it is to offer alternatives to farms in getting their fiber out of the field and into production. We will be looking in the coming months to coordinate with affected area farms and regional breed organizations to offer solutions to help put your fiber harvest to work for the 2020 season.

NEAFP is currently up and running at 100% production and our U.S. supply chain continues to run at full capacity. We plan on keeping this pace to prepare for a strong Fall and Winter sales season while taking some necessary precautions to protect everyone here on the NEAFP team. For the time being, we will not be offering mill tours or shopping on site. We will still be open to fiber drop offs and order pickups at the loading dock by appointment. While limiting outside exposure to us here at the mill and practicing safe practices recommended by CDC and WHO, we will continue to sort through fiber submissions and ship orders at our usual pace.

With information and the situation here in Massachusetts changing daily and in some cases hourly, we will continue to keep you all updated on exactly what is going on here at the fiber pool. We encourage any of you needing to fill some gaps in your inventory to do so now and we will do our best to accommodate your needs in the weeks to come. We certainly can't predict how this event will unfold but we believe that the timing of this from a production and retail sales season standpoint could not be better for the U.S. Alpaca fiber industry.

One thing we can take away immediately from this situation is domestic and regional supply chains help build strong and resilient communities. Small scale agriculture, both for food and for fiber, help you and your neighbors thrive during times of global economic slowdowns. Your email lists, social media networks, ties to the local community, and your e-commerce platforms have never been more valuable.

As more people are home from work and school consuming 24 hour news cycle broadcasts, they could all use a little extra alpaca cuteness and charisma in their social media timelines. Now is a great time to share your alpacas and your farm through social media and give your communities, both local and virtual, a little relief. As these events play out, we will continue to offer articles and resources to help you continue to grow the fiber side of your business during these unprecedented times.

We will continue to keep everyone in the loop

and wish you and your alpacas peace of mind and body!

- the entire NEAFP Team

Article: Virtual Farm Tours: Bringing People & Alpacas Together in the Virtual World

03/19/2020
by Michelle Just


The practice of social distancing has become more widespread in recent weeks and farms should be looking for new and innovative ways to reach their customers. Though for the time being you may not be physically connected with your customers, it is important to realize that your customer base is still available, albeit remotely, and consuming more online content than ever before. With children home from school, and some out of work, people of all ages are turning to the internet for entertainment, education, and a welcome relief from the constant media updates. Now more than ever is a great time to share the joys of your farm and alpacas through virtual farm tours.

Museums and zoos have long understood the value of offering virtual tours. They offer the opportunity to visit, be inspired, and educated from the comfort of the home or classroom. A virtual tour becomes feasible for someone unable to visit due to distance, finances, or physical ability. Farms, and alpaca farms in particular, are now offering similar experiences. Remember: your efforts to go virtual can have a big impact!

 

A Virtual Farm Tour can drive more business to your e-commerce store


Why go virtual? Two reasons: to make lasting connections with potential customers and community, and drive business to your e-commerce store. A virtual farm tour can give your customers the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at your farm, see your animals, and the work that goes into the service you provide. Now more than ever, we need to stress the importance of supporting small businesses. A good virtual tour, like a good farm tour, is a call to action to purchase your products. Take the time to reinforce your brand identity, and give virtual visitors avenues to purchase your products. By giving a behind the scenes look into your everyday life as an alpaca farmer, you are sharing the story behind your business and products, which is what customers are looking for more and more. Done well, a virtual tour can highlight the value of your product without becoming a sales pitch.
 

What is a Virtual Farm Tour?

A Virtual farm tour can be as simple as still photos with text, a live stream of your barn or field, or it can be an extensive learning experience. Good virtual tours are typically educational in nature, and have clear audio and visuals. If possible, they are geared towards a particular age group to ensure the content is relevant to viewers. Many tours are hosted on YouTube or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Even something as simple as using Instagram Stories to document your day is a great way to start. Instagram Story Highlights gives you the ability to leave a story permanently on your profile. Additionally, a tour hosted on your personal website has the added bonus of getting visitors to “visit” your page longer and enjoy other activities (like free coloring pages), increasing the chance of making a sale!

What are some Examples?

 

 

-Put the viewer literally in the shoes of a visitor at your farms, as Maine Alpaca Experience does in their 2-part Farm Tour. (Above)
 
-Understand your potential audience and give a straightforward informational tour. The information you provide can be catered towards a particular age group, as these dairy farm tours are for either Elementary-aged children or High school-aged children.
 
-Use a high-quality camera to livestream from your barn or pasture with textual updates such as in this Farm Sanctuary Live Stream.
 

What do you need to begin doing Virtual Farm Tours?



The equipment you need will vary depending on the type of virtual tour you hope to provide. For all formats you will need a website or social media page to host the tour on.
 
Video
 
• A smartphone camera is all you need to get started to share video on social media
• Upgrade your video with a DSLR camera (which is also great for product photography!)
• Regardless, make sure your video is well-lit and your audio is clear
• Have fun by adding GoPro or Drone footage!
 
Still Photos
 
• A smartphone camera or digital camera
• Text descriptions explain photos in lieu of audio/video
 
Live Video
 
• A camera that records live video/audio (like a Nest Cam)
• A good computer and internet connection (Here are some tips for setting up a wildlife camera)

Where could Virtual Farm Tours go in the future?



As mentioned previously, institutions like zoos and museums are already ahead of the curve when it comes to virtual tour experiences. You can take a trip back in time at the Amano Precolumbian Textile Museum to see alpaca artifacts or check out the Naked Mole Rat cam at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
 
Increasingly, these institutions also provide 3D virtual tours through sites like Google Arts & Culture. Not only can you click through various institutions as if you were using “street view” on Google Maps, combining this experience with a Virtual Reality headset can make it feel as if you were almost there! While nothing can replace the experience of being on the farm, we are certainly embarking into uncharted territory!
 

A Sound Investment

 
Over the past few years, we have watched alpaca farms adapt and thrive as you’ve created new agritourism ventures to compete against mass produced big box retailers. We’ve witnessed as you’ve expanded your small businesses into new markets and continue to educate your local communities on all things alpaca. Virtual tours may seem odd and foreign, especially when the nature of producing and selling alpaca goods is such a tactile business, but they’re one way of continuing to share your farm, alpacas, and goods with your local community. Taking some time to break up someone’s day with the cuteness and charisma of alpacas on the farm not only gives you good karma points, it will likely translate into a growing community and support for your farm and business in the future!
 

We hope that these Business Resource Blog Posts have been helpful.
Is there a topic you'd like us to cover in a future post? Write to us at support@neafp.com