Why I'm in Mongolia
I was introduced to Mongolia for the first time when I joined the Peace Corps in 2010. After being a volunteer in Darkhan, Mongolia working in small business development for two years, I left Mongolia knowing that I wanted to stay involved but didn’t quite know how. As so many others do after a stay in Mongolia, I brought my mom home a cashmere scarf as a gift before my return trip home. She absolutely loved it, and that started the affair with Mongolian wools.
Why ULA+LIA Started
After some initial ups and downs with a fashion label, we moved on to ULA+LIA, which was launched as a lifestyle brand to showcase the high quality craftsmanship and raw materials found in Mongolia. From knitting and crocheting yarn to cashmere throw blankets to raw honey, nothing is off limits for us as long as it’s high quality, produced 100% in Mongolia, and sources raw materials from the unique agricultural sector here. The fenceless, free-range nature of Mongolia can be seen and felt in all of our products.
Our first big break was four years ago when we launched our first yarn campaign on Kickstarter. Because the herders only brush their free-range animals once a year in the early summer, we would not be able to purchase our yearly supply needed without our customer-supported prefunding. By running our Kickstarter campaigns to fund our fiber purchases, we are able to carry inventory throughout the year. We aim to run our campaigns in June and deliver new yarn in late fall, all while offering a behind the scenes look at the manufacturing process during the campaign.
Throughout the years, we’ve maintained some sourcing partners and moved onto new ones as the industry evolves. As ULA+LIA grows, so do the fiber purchases we make and the effects it has on the environment and people. Sustainability is important to me and also difficult in Mongolia, but I’ll always make our purchases from cooperatives and organizations that do the best they can and involve me as much as possible in transparent operations. As we grow, so do the opportunities we can create to support this process at a higher level. I love spending time with the animals and people we purchase our fiber from and I will continue to work with organizations that allow me to show that process. Although it’s been difficult over the last couple of years to travel the countryside, stay with families, and tell our story, I’m hoping it will become easier to do so again this summer.
Into the future I hope to maintain the strong base that we’ve built with our knitting and crocheting yarn, but also promote more of the hidden gems available in Mongolia, like handmade apparel, raw honey, cheeses, and other homeware items.
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