top of page


You probably already know that mYak is the leading company when it comes to yak yarn, but do you know its history?

Last June, our founder, Nara Takeda, attended mYak's retreat with Joji Locatelli in the Italian Dolomites. She interviewed founders Paola Vanzo and Andrea Dominici and learned more about the company's interesting journey.

It all started when Paola Vanzo fell in love with Tibet the first time she visited. “I was fascinated by the culture and the people, and I always knew I wanted to go back,” she says.

A few years later, she had the opportunity to join a non-profit foundation on the Tibetan Plateau, working on projects to improve education, healthcare, and rural development.

two baby yaks on the grass

At that time, there was a project to make cheese out of yak milk. The small dairy factory was run by a monk with the aim of generating income for his school. However, the quality of the cheese wasn't very good. Knowing Paola is Italian, the foundation asked her to work with the dairy farm to try and improve the quality of their cheese. At one point, the project's team decided they needed a veterinarian specialized in large animals, and that's when Andrea joined them.

Andrea also had a background in non-profit organizations and had been working on rural development projects with dairy production in Africa, so when he received the invitation to work in Tibet, he was thrilled.

“It was really twenty years ago,” he says. "From that moment, all the summers of my life were spent in Tibet, […] and in this way, we started this adventure together.”

It was very important for them to help nomads keep their traditional sustainable lifestyle as it was in danger of disappearing. After 2008, it became really difficult to work with NGOs and foundations in Tibet, so they had to find another way to help the local communities. That was when they opened a social business, continued dairy production, and also started experimenting with fibers.

two nomads standing on the grass, a man and a woman

After some trials with yak fiber, they were amazed by the results since baby yak is close to cashmere in softness. As Andrea states: “After the first 20 kg, we started to build a rather intricate supply chain from the animal to the final product.” After proposing this new venture to the nomads, they started a cooperative and began working together to improve production quality.

Since the beginning, the sustainability and fairness of mYak's supply chain has been a priority. The baby yaks are combed, so there's no animal cruelty in the collection of fiber.

A single young yak produces 500-600 grams of fiber per year. After it's collected, the fiber is divided into colors, and the coarser hair is separated from the thinner hair, which is softer. About 80% of the fiber is given back to the nomads so they can use it for other purposes. Then, the remaining 20% is shipped to Italy to be spun into yarn.

“For us, being Italian and being an Italian company, it's important to bring together the best of Tibetan culture and Italian culture,” Paola affirms.

five yarn cakes, three off-white, two pink and one green, and knitted striped shawl

However, “sustainability has a cost,” she says. “It's a precious fiber. It's ethically sourced, it's sustainable, […] we don't use chemicals […], and the important thing is that it lasts a lifetime. […] But I think a lot of people just see the starting price point and don't understand what's behind it."

The company works with a group of small mills in Biella, Italy, which can guarantee high quality, low environmental impact, and the treatment of wastewater.

And what's coming next for mYak? Well, all we can say is that the brand is working on a new project called Fibregentili that'll certainly amaze knitters worldwide. We can't wait to learn more about it!

If you want to learn more about yak yarn, check out this article, where we explain its characteristics.


Commenting has been turned off.

Thanks for subscribing!



bottom of page