Sally Schmidt, owner of Sabamba Alpaca Ranch, admits she didn’t really set out with the intention of starting a business. “It just kind of fell together,” she says.
“It” is now a three-sided business model that includes livestock, retail and a bed and breakfast.
Schmidt’s husband, who grew up on a small dairy farm outside of Kaukauna, always wanted to be back on a farm. So, when their children were raised and out of the house, they began looking at smaller properties that were close to both of their parents.
The Schmidts purchased their current location in 2006 on Hickory Road outside of De Pere and bought some alpacas from reputable breeders. Today, they own more than 50 Huacaya alpacas and offer education programs and provide guidance to other new ranchers.
Schmidt also dreamed of running her own bed and breakfast after her children were grown, and some encouragement from a friend led the couple to completely gut and remodel the farmhouse on the property. They now live downstairs, with two guest rooms upstairs.
“It evolved over time, and that’s ended up being a really nice piece of our summer business here,” Schmidt says.
Two or three years into running the bed and breakfast, the Schmidts launched the retail side of their business. When she was cold, Schmidt was struck with the realization of how warm alpaca fiber is. She now sells a variety of products made with alpaca fiber, with socks being a particularly popular item.
Schmidt has numerous goals for Sabamba — from expanding its online store to opening a brick-and-mortar storefront to adding another guest room to the bed and breakfast. However, she is most passionate about improving people’s lives by providing them with products made from warm alpaca fiber.
Whether it’s cancer patients going through chemotherapy, the elderly, or even people who work outside all day, Schmidt says she “loves when I can put this product on someone and their life is better because of it. That’s the part that makes me the happiest.”