Who We Are
June Cashmere's 100% cashmere yarns are collected directly from Kyrgyz shepherds living on small family farms along the ancient Silk Road amidst the soaring mountains of Central Asia. June is the Kyrgyz word for animal fiber, which is a centuries old vital resource and essential element of their nomadic lifestyle. From felted woolen rugs, to the clothes on their backs, june has made itself an indelible part of Kyrgyz culture. Additionally, the uniquely warm properties of the cashmere from their goats allow them to sustain cold and long winters in the vast mountains in Kyrgyzstan.
The origins of June Cashmere started with the seed vision of J.C Christensen and his family, owners of Morning Star Fiber, which is located in Andrews, North Carolina. They opened their mill in 2005 and soon after in 2007 had the opportunity to meet a group of Kyrgyz artisans who were traveling in the US. Through this encounter they became aware of the need for revitalization in the Kyrgyz fiber industry. Shortly thereafter JC connected with Sy Belohlavek from Columbus, Ohio, who had worked in Kyrgyzstan previously. Sy was very drawn towards helping bring the idea to fruition and ultimately moved with his wife and two small children (they now have five) to Kyrgyzstan in late 2010 to begin working towards actualizing the vision.
After a period of learning the language, doing general research, and establishing relationships with community leaders, Sy began focusing specifically on cashmere and developed education and training programs to better inform the shepherds about how to properly collect and sort their fiber by quality grades. The years of diligent investment among these communities has resulted in access to this high-quality raw cashmere. Sy and his team travel village-to-village and house-to-house purchasing cashmere that the shepherds have gently hand-comb from each goat. These personal transactions ensure that top quality fiber is being gathered and ensures that the shepherds receive fair compensation for their elite fiber.
Once gathered, the cashmere fiber is shipped to Europe where artisans clean and spin the fiber into fine knitting yarn. The yarn makes its final stop at Saco River Dyehouse in Maine where it is organically dyed using environmentally-friendly, sustainable methods. The final product is a yarn that is soft, warm, and beautiful, perfect for heirloom baby gifts, handmade wedding gifts, and all manner of hand-knit shawl, scarf, hat, cowl, glove, and sweater projects.
We believe that when a business deliberately aims to benefit everyone involved that amazing things happen. Join us in this mission for a truly transformational experience.
Half-way between the East and the West along the legendary Silk Road lies a land of majestic mountains and nomadic shepherd communities--Kyrgyzstan. Daily life in this remote and relatively untouched region of the world is not for the faint of heart. In brilliant adaptation to winter above 10,000 feet, the indigenous cashmere goats have developed their soft, exceptionally warm and silky downy undercoat, otherwise known as cashmere--soft gold.
Although these goats have long produced fiber capable of competing on the world market, until recently Kyrgyz shepherds had virtually no access to international buyers offering fair market value. June Cashmere is committed to changing this situation so that their cashmere has an honored identity as one of the world’s finest fibers. Our passion is that Kyrgyz cashmere can be an engine for social and economic transformation.
June Cashmere is actively investing in the communities where the cashmere is gathered. For example, we are facilitating village-to-village training sessions teaching best practices for increasing the quantity and quality of cashmere fiber production.
In 2014, with winter quickly approaching in a village where we work, we were able to replace a defunct heating system in an elementary school. Then in 2015, in a different village, we repaired the heating system of its school and furnished their kindergarten class with kitchen supplies and toys. These investments are a modest start to what we hope will become a dynamic future of growth and development made possible by this remarkable fiber.