Lily Wu
May 15, 2018

Kansas Business Dresses Royalty

Peruvian Connection is a Tonganoxie-based clothing brand that is worn by some members of the royal family in England.

"It’s gratifying for me to know that Tonganoxie gets this exposure, but this town needs more than exposure. Growing up in Kansas is one of my favorite things to talk about," said Annie Hurlbut, CEO and founder of Peruvian Connection.

Last Christmas Day, papers around the world noticed the hat worn by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton was created by the Kansas-based company, Peruvian Connection.

The Vallnord Alpaca fur hat, priced at $99, immediately sold out.

"She just looked like a million bucks, and it was the perfect thing for her," said Hurlbut.

Middleton and her sister, Pippa, along with their mother have been longtime shoppers of Peruvian Connection.

"They obviously have access to whatever they want. To have them pick us, for certainly not their entire wardrobe but for a fair amount of business over the years, it’s tremendously validating," said Hurlbut.

The brand launched in 1976 when Hurlbut and her mother, Biddy, began importing handmade products from Peru.

While a college student studying abroad, Hurlbut fell in love with the culture and textiles of the South American country.

"When I really fell in love with Peru was when I went up to the Andes," she said.

Today, Peruvian Connection has grown into a worldwide brand, making $70-million in sales last year.

"I am very proud of our products. I’m going to take a bow for the whole organiza-tion. There’s so many people involved with it, most of whom are right here in Kansas," said Hurlbut.

The company employs more than 100 people in Kansas that are part of the design, marketing, and distribution teams of these mail-order products. Peruvian Connection also has six retail stores in the U.S. and one in the U.K.