Heartfelt is a small company founded by four women from the American heartland. Heartfelt products range from pet beds and dog coats to housewares that include rugs, wall art, coasters, and hot pads. Heartfelt's most successful product has been the felted alpaca insoles for which a patent is being sought.
The seed for Heartfelt was sown a number of years ago when a handful of mid-Missouri alpaca breeders formed a cooperative outlet for their alpaca products. The Heartfelt owners raise their alpacas for their fiber, which is cloud soft yet remarkably strong and warm. Alpacas are shorn once each year and are not harmed in the process. They are gentle, stoic, largely defenseless creatures who live very lightly on the land. It is easy to see their therapeutic presence and their comforting fleeces giving rise to Incan myths of alpacas saving humans.
The early cooperative marketing effort matured when the four Heartfelt partners acquired a FeltLoom™ in 2010. Heartfelt is truly an American business. The FeltLoom™ was invented and is manufactured by an alpaca breeder from Kentucky. The Heartfelt owners' alpaca farms are in mid-Missouri. The mill that processes the fiber into batting is in Michigan. And the final products are produced by the Heartfelt partners themselves in Columbia, Missouri.
Meet the Heartfelt Women
Carol Brown grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco. As a girl spending time in the sewing room with her mother, she learned to sew from an early age, making doll clothes from scraps. It all started quite literally at her mother's knee, and she has never stopped sewing.
When Carol graduated from high school she took her sewing skills and moved to Berkeley. She moved around between Berkeley and Oakland for the next few years before settling in San Francisco where she earned a Bachelor of Art in art with an emphasis in textiles from San Francisco State University. Upon graduation she took a position with Laurel Sprigg Custom Interior Sewing in San Francisco making custom soft furnishings for a very exclusive clientele. At Laurel Sprigg, Carol found she could put her textiles skills and knowledge to work, while learning more every day in a stimulating creative environment. One high point of her career at Laurel Sprigg came when Carol worked on the team that assembled hand-sewn curtains for the King of Thailand's new summer palace in the 1990s.
In 1992, Carol moved to Columbia, Missouri. Carol started her own custom interior sewing company in Columbia and makes curtains, slipcovers and bedding for interior designers. Carol has always enjoyed sharing interests in textiles and fiber with mother-in-law and Heartfelt partner Diane Peckham. The creation of Heartfelt represents the natural progression of their shared interests. The partners in Heartfelt are all alpaca farmers, with the exception of Carol. The only animals she is responsible for are 2 guinea pigs.
Working with the alpaca fiber in a felted form combines Carol's love of painting, drawing, and design with her passion for working with textiles. Felting a design onto a rug is very much like "painting" with the fiber. Carol dyes fleece to supplement the 22 naturally occurring colors of the alpaca fiber, and she has created many of the Heartfelt designs.