My mom and I made a trip out to Kansas to visit my favorite fashion supplier Peruvian Connections. I have been a follower of the high end, natural fiber, catalog store Peruvian Connections www.PeruvianConnection.com for more than 15 years. Each catalog that arrives I pour into, studying every detail while discovering great new looks for my past season pieces too. The things I buy from them either through their catalog, in their flagship stores or on Ebay are timeless season to season, year after year. A great bargain when you look at the lifetime wearing of each piece.
You can sign up for a free catalog here http://www.peruvianconnection.com/ancillary/catalogrequest.do Also sign up for their email newsletter, there they share discounts, sales and free shipping offers.
Back to Kansas and my story about finding the Headquarters for Peruvian Connections. PC Headquarters was difficult to find on a map, and it was not at all what I expected, it is located on Cannan Farm and is a beautiful setting.
My mom and I set out to visit the offices (Housed in a 100-year old barn on a family farm) in Tonganoxie, Kansas as a mother daughter vacation of sorts. There were several places along the way that really made this trip worthwhile like to visit the sewing studio of Linda Lee http://www.jotraveler.com/designer-linda-lee-and-her-sewing-workshop/, top fiber artists at Asiatica http://www.jotraveler.com/asiatica-antiquevintage-kimono-fabric-to-create-modern-outfits/and
Peruvian Connection is a woman owned and family company. It was started by a mother daughter team, mother Biddy Hurlbut and Annie Hurlbut, Annie is the active President and CEO who also steers many of the designs. This international company has been in business as Peruvian Connection Ltd. for more than thirty seven years. It was founded in 1976 and is based in Tonganoxie, Kansas. It has retail stores in Chicago, Illinois – San Francisco, California – Kansas City, Missouri – Santa Fe, New Mexico – Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. and one store in the UK Henley-On-Thames, United Kingdom. Not to brag but I have been to all the stores, except the two newest stores in Illinois and Massachusetts. (And yes I am planning to visit both!).
We were greeted at the Barn by Deborah Thompson, Director of Human Resources at Peruvian Connection. She is also a sewer so immediately we had lots in common and many interesting things to talk about. She was lovely, and very knowledgeable about PC (Peruvian Connections) and would be our guide for the morning as we learned more about the company and the more than 200 workers.
You can’t miss the rural flavor of the area, nor the modest accommodations of the business from the outside. But when you enter the “Barn” you immediately see all the modern conveniences of this well run business.
We were “greeted” by this beautiful Alpaca in the lobby and many pieces of Peruvian art and crafts around the headquarters. Obviously there is great care taken to provide a wonderful work environment.
Peruvian Connection is among Working Woman magazine’s “Top 500 companies to work for.” And when we arrived there was no question that would be the case. Every employee greeted us with a smile and we could see chatting and friendly banter in every office.
Here is the catalog order command center. These lovely and very helpful ladies are available on the phone for anyone placing an order. Many of them have been with PC for many years and each of them seemed to really enjoy their dealings with the customers.
The designs of Peruvian Connections are all simple lines that make you look and feel beautiful. I am in love with the fabrics of quality and the color pallet is in harmony year after year. This makes it so what I bought last year always looks wonderful with what I buy the next year. I love their accessories too from scarves to belts to jewelry they have a more exotic and artsy appeal. They are mainly a catalog company with a large online presence so coming here and seeing the designs in person was very exciting.
We saw many of the designs fabulous fabrics and interesting new ways to use fabrics, like the different directions they used in this plaid. This dress was WAY nicer and better quality in person.
The history of Peruvian Connections could not be complete without recognizing the Mother-Daughter duo who started out importing Peruvian made garments in traditional Inca designs. (Here they are modeling their own companies fashions in 1979)
I remember how sad I felt for the company when Biddy (the mother) died in 2007. The catalog subtlety announced the news in a memoriam in the holiday catalog and I silently understood the sad news being as I am so close to my own mother.
Daughter Annie Hurlbut continued to lead the organization with her strong presence and Peruvian Connections later expanded to find special textiles and garments from around the world featuring the best silks from China, interesting fabrics from India and ethnic textiles from Peru. This is what fascinates me about the line and keeps me eager to see every catalog that comes to my door!
You can’t help but notice the “theme” of Alpacas around the office…
Each one more clever and artful than the next. You may be wondering “what’s with the Alpacas??” Well the fiber that is used in many of the beautiful clothing is from the Alpaca coat. Most of the fibers are natural.
A peek into the shipping area and you’ll see they are getting masses of orders out each day. They ship out nearly 50 million in sales annually. And everything looked so organized and tidy.
There is so much care taken is processing an order. When my package arrives it’s like getting a fine gift. I love the packaging (see below)
They wrap each item in these beautiful presentation boxes. I love the graphics and design of their bags as well.
Notice their break area…they invited us in for a snack, such hospitality. Nice environment for the staff too.The snacks were healthy fresh fruits and muffins and cheeses, of course we don’t know what more there could have been…but what a nice place for employees to take a break.
And notice more Alpacas. Well I bought one like this in their store in Kansas City the next day, I had to have my own Alpaca to greet me at home.
To sum it up we see now why Peruvian Connections , a long standing family owned company has been around to today. It is the leadership and dedication of the organization. They don’t just make a beautiful clothing line, they make 200 jobs for a small town in Kansas and a lovely lifestyle look for thousands of customers like me!
In a few days you will see part two of our visit. I will be interviewing top designer Tabbetha McCale Evans who works for Peruvian Connections as their Knitwear, Clothing and Textile Designer. I’ll be asking her how they come up with such unique designs and where they get their inspiration.
Until then, JoTraveler