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Peace Corps Volunteer Turns Her Passion into a Business

Share Your Story: Supplementing and Possibly Replacing Your Full Time Job

By Kate Robertson

Your Name

Kate Robertson

Your Website


What is your side business?

My "hobby-job," as I call it, is an online boutique selling one-of-a-kind, hand-knit accessories. The company is called Mayu, which means river in Quechewa, the native language of the Incan empire. All of our items are knit with 100% alpaca fiber (alpaca is considered eco-friendly; check out our video by a group of artisans in a small community high in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

Our products, which are designed by a textile expert in Chicago, range from hats and scarves to hoodies, capelets, wraps and throws. There is something for everyone.

Why did you choose this particular business?

I started this business as a result of my time in the Peace Corps. I spent 2.5 years in Peru and absolutely fell in love with the entire country as well as with the artisans with whom I worked as a small business development volunteer. I taught the women basic business practices so they would be able to better run their small business (and they taught me a whole lot more). Working for Mayu enables the women to make additional income while doing what they love and excel in, knitting. The knitters are excited to share their masterpieces with the international market.

Mayu is a proud member of the Fair Trade Federation so we are committed to paying our artisans fair wages and participating in sustainable business practices.

I believe that Mayu will continue to be a side job for the next few years as I am currently pursuing a Masters Degree that will hopefully allow me to become further involved in economic development or corporate social responsibility.


  • Expect to be BUSY.
  • Although BUSY, create a good work/life balance.
  • Only do something you LOVE, or the motivation will be lost.
  • Stay true to yourself; set reasonable goals and don't make yourself crazy.
  • Surround yourself by knowledgeable people - you won't know the answer to everything so you will have to ask around.
  • Use Craigslist; it is a great tool to find good quality labor at reasonable prices.
  • Network, network, network. Cliche, I know. But, it is true.
  • Find an intern that you can empower and provide him with an excellent learning experience.
  • Create a blog to engage people and gives credibility.

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