Katie Lorenz here, the founder of Campo. People ask me all the time: "How did Campo start?" "Where did the idea come from?" "How did you find these people you work with?" When I was an undergraduate and dreaming of management consulting, I never expected to be chasing alpacas in Peru!
Rewind a bit...
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 and was thrilled to sign with a fantastic consulting firm. Two years later, I left that job and traveled before starting a new venture at a smaller, specialized firm. For my month off I dreamed of hanging out with elephants and exploring the jungle. Thailand sounded like the place to go! As I was planning my adventure, I learned from a kind and knowledgeable bartender that Thailand in August was a bad idea: monsoon season!
My dream burst, I went to the next most knowledge source: Google. I search "Where to Travel in August?" Low and behold, Peru popped right up! I saw stunning pics of Machu Picchu, the mountains, trekking, and the jungle. I traded elephants and spicy noodle dishes for alpacas and ceviche. Not a bad swap!
Little did I know it was the start of something fantastic too!
I traveled for a month around Peru. I was amazed by the food in Lima. I loved paragliding off cliffs.
I even found my jungle! Tambopata Reserve which is still one of my favorite places in the world.
But Cusco stole my heart.
Cusco has beautiful, vibrant, colorful open air markets filled with fresh produce, tiny pull-a-stool-up-to-the-counter restaurants, tourist trinkets, alpaca clothes, blankets, and scarves, with families working or passing time together and kids playing.
Here was where I fell in love with alpaca fiber! It was so soft, warm, and yet light. The Incan patterns were incredibly vibrant and beautiful. I bought everyone I knew Christmas presents from here!
As I explored the markets, I was on the hunt for my red and white gear. As a proud UW alumna, I was looking for something unique to wear to Badger games and support my alma mater during our freezing Midwest winters. I found a few things which met my desires, but the idea of Incan-type alpaca Badger gear lingered. Also, the women knitting all over the town square stuck with me. Their artistry and craftsmanship was amazing, and the women I met were so kind! They were all willing to chat with a complete stranger with barely passable Spanish and share their story.
Fast fast forward one and a half years later...
With my new consulting firm, I got the gig of my dreams! I was given an opportunity to work abroad and even better, it was in South America! I lived and worked for two years in Santiago, Chile working as a consultant. Two years in South America was amazing. I had so many adventures and amazing experiences. Nearing the end of my trip I went to Patagonia and something a bit crazy happened.
Tune into the next blog to see what happened next!