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Entrepreneurs are Born at Bow Valley College

Calgary is fueled by its entrepreneurial spirit.

 During the pandemic, we’ve seen the devastating news about local businesses closing their doors, in some cases, permanently. Yet, we’ve also seen companies pivot their business model and provide services in new ways to keep the economy going and maintain a sense of “normal” within our community.

New businesses like Fuzzy Alpaca, initially set to launch this spring, are trying to balance uncertainty with hope. Fuzzy Alpaca is an award-winning business venture developed by Bow Valley College Alumni, Branika Flores, Maria Granja, and Harveer Singh Sandhu. Their strategy right now is simple: remain healthy, take time to enjoy the little things, and stay inspired.

 “We’re all in this together. Because of the mentorship and hands-on learning that we received from Bow Valley College, we are confident that our business model will be successful when the time is right,” says Maria Granja, Business Administration ’20.

Fuzzy Alpaca was the first-place winner in the seventh annual VentureQuest. It is a contest in which entrepreneurial students at Bow Valley College compete for seed money, as well as support with branding and business planning. Annually, leaders across Calgary support this contest through their generous sponsorship.

“Now more than ever, getting students and alumni to act on – not just think about – their entrepreneurship aspirations is vital to the reinventing of Calgary’s economy,” says Craig Elias, Entrepreneur in Residence, Bow Valley College. “That’s why initiatives like Bow Valley College’s VentureQuest were created. Programs like this are meant to be a progressive steppingstone into the development of an entrepreneurial toolkit for those looking to create a side hustle or jump into full-time entrepreneurship.”

Fuzzy Alpaca will sell 100% natural, cruelty-free, and sustainable clothing made of Alpaca wool, natural dyes, and traditional materials from local First Nation suppliers. Fuzzy Alpaca’s products will symbolize the interweaving of culture and nature, both from their countries of origin, and the indigenous traditions of Canada.

“We all moved to Canada from warm climates, so we all experienced being unprepared for how cold Calgary was,” Maria explains. “Two of us business partners were born in South America, where alpaca wool is commonly used because of its thermoregulatory properties. We thought this material would be great to keep Calgarians warm in the winter and cool in the summer.”

What makes Fuzzy Alpaca even more special is its commitment to tackling social issues. For every coat sold, it will donate one blanket to a person in need. The business plans to work with local organizations to help disperse the donations and has plans to extend its social impact more broadly as the business grows.

These alpaca products are not yet on the market because of COVID-19, but hearing their story gives us all something to look forward to.


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