How to Start a Fiber Mini Mill Business
A fiber mini mall, which is a smaller version of an industrial mill, processes a variety of fibers for local or regional farmers looking to convert their fleece into yarn or felt. Via a process of washing, carding, separating, drying and spinning, mini mills create quality material that can be used to create rugs, clothing, yarn and blankets. Many mill owners also raise their own animals and process and sell their own fleece.
Visit a fiber mini mill in your area, preferably one that builds and sells mill production equipment. Not only will you get an idea of the conversion process and the ins and outs of operating a mini mill, but you can evaluate the performance of the machines and obtain training, if you elect to purchase.
Research alpacas, llamas and sheep, to include their temperaments, care and space requirements, quality and type of fleece and the quantity and price yielded from each, if you intend to have your own farm.
Move into an old mill or find suitable, properly zoned land on which to build your mini mill. If you intend to purchase a herd, ensure that you have enough land. If you're constructing your mill, be sure to hire a licensed contractor familiar with constructing mills and farming regulations in your area. If you're moving into an old mill, verify that any equipment contained within is in working condition or that it will work in conjunction with any new equipment purchased for your mini mill.
Purchase the right equipment for your textile processing needs and the rate in which you will process them. You may need a tumbler, a separator, a conveyor, scouring equipment, a carder, a felter, a steamer, drying racks, a spinner and chemicals. If you're opening a storefront to sell your products, purchase shelves, display cases, a cash wrap and a merchant account. Purchase dye, packaging materials and propane to heat your water. Or implement a solar hot water system to heat water for washing or scouring.
Purchase a website for your textile mill. Detail your minimum weight requirements, time for completion, preparation and sorting requirements, prices and washing instructions.
As an alpaca farmer, you may be eligible for tax incentives.