The Legacy of the pioneer

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Frank W. Michell

The Pioneer

Visionary entrepreneur who took Alpaca throughout the world 

Frank W. Michell, a young man of English origin, a lieutenant in the Royal British Air Force on flight missions during World War I, with a slim build, a trimmed moustache and a distinct but elegant accent, was definitely someone who longed to forge his own destiny under his own conditions.

With an insatiable sense of adventure, as keen as that of the first explorers of England, twenty-year-old Frank W. Michell, motivated by a chance encounter with an artist and her beautiful coat of unknown fibres, decided, in 1922, to take a sailboat and venture to an exotic South American country called Peru in search of that mysterious fibre and, consequently, his fortune.

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Shortly after arriving in Peru, Frank was captivated with the beauty and culture of that “new world” he was exploring, falling madly in love with the Peruvian Andes, its people and its ancient traditions and imposing landscapes, where he would discover one of the secrets that most captivated him: the herds of multicolored alpacas that grazed in the plains and ravines of the mountains, and the weavers that spun the fibre of their fur with incomparable elegance. The love and passion that were aroused in Frank Michell for Peru, the people of the Andes and their textiles were so strong, that he decided to dedicate his life to the alpaca and the majestic textile tradition that the artisans of these lands practiced since ancient times, assuming the commitment to keep it alive and share it with the world.

Guided by this new vision, the desire to be entrepreneurial, and with the adversities every great adventure brings along , Frank Michell inclusively found himself in the need to pawn a golden cigarette case, his father’s farewell gift when he left England; a decision that, fortunately, would give Frank the necessary capital to give birth to the world’s alpaca industry. Thus, with funds in hand and motivated by the boom in the alpaca market, Frank Michell began to commercialize alpaca fleece: A legend was born.

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Years later, in the late thirties and early forties, Michell, in search of progress, revolutionized the alpaca industry by being the first to collect, wash and process its fibre and, in addition, inspired by ancient textile techniques, designed a classification system according to density and finesse. These innovations, well ahead of their time, proved to be very popular and well received by the fibre dealers of those years.

It is because of this great visionary and entrepreneurial spirit that Frank Michell is recognized in the alpaca industry as “The Pioneer” and for being the first to take this industry beyond just the raw material.

This is the beginning of the history and legacy of a pioneer, who brought the world the finest garments and, through his designs, the values, skills and millenary wisdom of the Andean communities.

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Today, almost a hundred years after his arrival, the legacy of Frank Michell transcends, endures and grows driven with the help of Sol Alpaca, where ancestral textile techniques and mastery of weaving are combined with the most advanced technology and, with a profound respect for nature, produce the finest and most sophisticated designs that make you feel the warmest embrace of the Andes.

As heirs of the love and admiration Frank W. Michell had for everything profoundly Peruvian, in Sol Alpaca we assume and continue with his commitment and mission of taking the Peruvian and millennial Andean textile tradition to other cultures and new horizons, through effort, respect for nature and passion for excellence that we express in art with the finest fibres in the world. It is for this reason that, at Sol Alpaca, we are proud to be The Legacy of the Pioneer.

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