Liro Apparel

Guide Update: LiRo Apparel Celebrates Akron in New Designs

The small business is grateful for the warm welcome it received from Akron and is looking for ways to give back.

By Taylor Loftin & Julie Cajigas

Previous ZipsGuide stories about Liro Apparel will appear archived beneath this update.

In their first ZipsGuide story (below), we learned about the Vegas meet-cute of Matthew and Estela Powell as well as their newer-to-Akron shop filled with their signature Alpaca sweaters, hats, gloves and more.

Even though that guide came out a few short months ago, their shop is filled with new ponchos, large totes, summer slacks and the sweater everyone is talking about – the Akron sweater.

Also over those short months, the Powells have been feeling a groundswell of support from the Akron community and Downtown Akron Partnership in particular.

“Akron is a place for small businesses to thrive and grow,” Matthew Powell said. “We wanted to create something to represent this city.”

Estela Powell, who was born in Peru and learned to knit from a young age, decided to blend a traditional design for children in Peru with one of Akron’s most recognizable images. The traditional version of the sweater features appliqué animals to teach children about nature.

“Usually this style is for children,” Estela Powell said. Their shop offers the traditional version of the children’s sweater with adorable chicks, bunnies, and other critter friends. “So many adults asked that we made an adult version of the children’s sweater,” she said.

The next stop was experimenting with other imagery. In this case, the imagery is large, felted letters that spell out “Akron, Ohio” and a Goodyear Blimp on the back underneath the traditional cloud.

The Akron sweaters, like all their apparel, are crafted with high-quality, handmade materials sourced from Peru. Powell gave the first Akron, Ohio sweater to Professor Julie Cajigas, the editor of ZipsGuide, who snapped a photo and shared it on her Instagram account.

The next day, the photo appeared as “photo of the week” in the Downtown Akron Partnership newsletter, and people began asking about it. The 

LiRo’s Akron sweaters took more than six months start to finish to design, source and produce. They only took one day at the bustling Akron Sakura Festival to sell out all 50 sweaters.

“It was crazy,” Estela Powell said. “We are still getting questions about stock.”

Now the question on everyone’s mind: When will the Akron sweaters be available again?

Powell estimates that they will have a small stock in June. We heard a rumor that they may have children’s sizes at that time (but you didn’t hear that from us).

So, sorry moms – there won’t be an Akron sweater hiding inside your Mother’s Day gift. But, to make it up to you, the shop has released a special Mother’s Day gift basket available at the shop at Northside. 

“We used Aguayo, a traditional fabric from Peru and Bolivia, to give the Apron and Bowl Cozy color,” Estela Powell said. 

For her, the colorful fabric emits joy and happiness.

The packages contain the colorful apron, a ceramic serving bowl, and a bowl cozy to protect your kitchen table. They come prewrapped with ribbon and a Happy Mother’s Day message. Just stop in and grab one anytime the market is open, and you’re all set for Mother’s Day gifting.

If mom isn’t a fan of the kitchen, never fear. LiRo is offering 30% off all sweaters from now until Mother’s Day. Though the Akron sweater is out of stock, they have many other beautiful sweaters in a variety of patterns and colors to choose from.

For dads and grads, though, the Akron sweater should be back in stock. 

We especially like the Akron sweater for University of Akron graduates since it has a vintage college letterman sweater look. 

While they are grateful the Akron sweater has been such a success, it wasn’t about selling out, it was their way to say thank you to the community that has welcomed them.

They are thrilled that the sweater is also fostering brand recognition and helping them spreading their message of cultural education.

“Cultures everywhere are beautiful,” Matthew Powell said. “Just because you don’t have the opportunity to leave your city doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to experience those cultures and understand those cultures."

"You can understand a lot about culture through its art and the clothing design,” he said.

The couple is also proud of the Peru branch of their team. 

An Alpaca farmer and weaving artist, Elizabeth and her husband in Peru collaborate with Estela and Matthew. Elizabeth and Estela are cousins.

“They have been with us since the beginning of LiRo Apparel,” Estela Powell said. “They helped us start working with Alpaca fiber.”

Over the years, Elizabeth shared with the Powell family about challenges the children in her village were having in school due to lack of funds. The two families came together to help.

When you visit the LiRo shop in Northside Marketplace, you will see bracelets labeled “help buy a lunch, help buy supplies, help buy a desk.”

All proceeds from these items are donated to the schools in Elizabeth’s village to provide those needed items.

The couple continues to work as part of the LiRo team, coordinating with the Alpaca farmers to help LiRo source their materials.

Where is LiRo headed for the future? Beyond sales, the family’s vision extends to empowering others through entrepreneurship, as they explore avenues into the wholesale market.

LiRo Apparel envisions partnering with retailers who share their values of quality, craftsmanship and appreciation of cultures by offering them the opportunity to showcase LiRo’s unique creations in their own stores. 

Additionally, LiRo plans to continue selling the yarn used in their apparel production. This not only provides an additional revenue stream but enables fellow artisans and designers to access the same high-quality materials that define LiRo’s signature style.


Their advice to fellow entrepreneurs is steeped in their experience: never give up, stay resilient, and embrace the journey, even when faced with adversity. 


For LiRo Apparel, their path forward is paved with threads of cultural appreciation and education, creativity, and a commitment to making the world a little warmer, one sweater at a time.


LiRo Apparel is gearing up for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Graduation season with exciting deals and promotions. 

You can stay updated on the upcoming promotions by visiting their website at and following them on social media @liro_apparel_accessories

LiRo Apparel 

Mother's Day Bundle:

The mother's day bundle offered by LiRo apparel features a ceramic serving bowl, a bowl cozy to protect mom's table top and a colorful apron, wrapped with a card for mom. Photos via LiRo Apparel.

(Above) The photo posted on Instagram and the feature in Downtown Akron Partnership's newsletter. (Below) Estela Powell and Julie Cajigas of ZipsGuide (and little Zoey) met up at the Sakura Festival and the families enjoyed it together.

(Above) Estela Powell's cousin Elizabeth and her husband in Peru. (Below) Bracelets in the LiRo store at Northside Marketplace. The family donates 100% of the funds earned from sales to the schools in Elizabeth's town.

To reach guide author Taylor Loftin, email her here.

From Peru to Akron, LiRo Offers Heirloom-quality, Handmade Alpaca Apparel

The small business located inside the Northside Market started with a serendipitous bus route in Vegas and continues to spread community building values and fuzzy warm apparel in Akron.

By LeAnna Faulknier & Julie Cajigas, December 2023

Akron native Matthew Powell had moved to Las Vegas to attend culinary school when he noticed that a young lady rode the same bus every day on her way to her work at a local Mexican Restaurant. At first, they didn’t notice one another, but over time he noticed her, and one day got up the courage to give her a puff pastry swan he’d made in culinary class.

Shaking, he sat next to her and said he had a gift. After she took it, wrapped in its little aluminum foil pouch, he was too nervous to say anything else. After a few awkward moments of silence, he reached his stop and muttered goodnight as he headed for the bus doors. 

She stopped him and asked for his number.

And, that’s the story of how LiRo Apparel, a small business offering traditional Alpaca garments and accessories in the Northside Marketplace of Akron, had its start.

The name, LiRo is a combination of their children’s names. Lilly and Rose, twins, were born very premature and spent six months in the NICU. 

To survive that long stretch and to cope with postpartum depression, Estela Powell began knitting. At first, it was hats. But, after she started wearing them, family and friends wanted to know where she got them. This inspired her to keep at it.

It’s no surprise that the hats were popular since she had been knitting and crocheting since childhood.

What Matt Powell didn’t know when he approached the girl on the bus is that Estela was born in a small village in Peru, and had grown up there, knitting and crocheting using traditional materials and methods.

“She grew up in a small village in Peru,” Powell said. He smiled and said, “There wasn’t a lot to do, so she got really good at it.”

Matthew and Estela Powell on their wedding day. Photo courtesy of the Powell family.

Twins Lily and Rose a few weeks after coming home from six months in the NICU. Photo courtesy of the Powell family.

 It only takes a glance at their large area in the Northside Marketplace to realize just how good at it she must be. With racks and racks of hand knitted and crocheted Alpaca sweaters, dresses, hats, gloves, and a variety of home décor and summer wear as well. It’s hard to believe that one person is largely behind the massive inventory.

One of the things that makes LiRo apparel special is the traditional, handmade yarn and materials they use to craft their clothing.

“Her brother journeyed around Peru to find the most traditional material for us,” Matthew Powell, said. “Everything is done by hand.”

The farmers they work with herd the Alpaca up and down the mountains of Peru. After gathering the Alpaca fleece, it is washed in the river, hand shrunk, hand dyed, and hand spun in the most traditional way possible.

After the twins were home, the couple began selling in farmer’s markets in Massachusetts where they had settled after Vegas. Just about a year ago, Matthew brought his family back to his hometown, Akron. The twins are now six and healthy. 

Explore LiRo Apparel's Northside Marketplace Shop in photos:

(Photos by Julie Cajigas)

Powell helps construct the garments, but also serves as the sales and operations lead for LiRo. At first, Estela worked on the business full-time, and Matt worked outside the home, but they have since switched roles so he can focus on the business.

Their product offering has expanded over time to include a complete winter and summer line. The winter line heavily features the traditionally made yarn, while the summer line uses some traditional methods with more modern and light fabrics to create swimsuits, cotton sweaters, shorts, vests, and sandals. 

The winter line includes lots of warm-weather gear as well as a variety of sweaters and ponchos in a range of colors, sizes, and fabrics. 

Matthew stressed that Alpaca is for everyone. “We try to make our clothing inclusive,” he said. “We don’t want to leave out any size, gender, preference; we try to make something for everyone.”

Another place that the couple strives to be inclusive and accessible is with the pricing. “We don’t want to make things that are out of reach for people,” he said. “We are all about community and everyone belonging, so we want it to work for everybody.”

In touching the Alpaca sweaters, the high quality of the handmade yarn shines through easily. LiRo’s pieces are so unique and well-crafted that they may well be passed down from parent to child in the future.

The passion for community goes beyond size and price inclusiveness for LiRo.

The couple gives a portion of what they make back to the villages that supply their yarn to help those communities grow and thrive.

They’re also interested in growing the Akron community. “We like to donate products to charities,” Powell said. “We do that through Northside Marketplace and ran a fundraising campaign for the war in Ukraine to raise funds for peace efforts.”

In the Northside Marketplace shop, a small display of bracelets sits on top of the largest rack. A sign next to it simply says that “Funds raised from the sale of the bracelets will go to families in need.”                    

When asked about them, Powell explained that he doesn’t want to be political in the marketplace, but that the funds are used to help refugees and immigrants to pursue their best life.

“We are helping families that are having problems coming over,” he said. “Everyone has the right for their best life, and I want to do my best to help them get here.”

When asked about the future of LiRo, he briefly mentioned wholesaling, but then went right back to talking about the community.

In the Northside Marketplace shop, LiRo has a rack of bracelets marked as a fundraiser for families in need and racks of sweaters and other apparel. Photos by Julie Cajigas.

The Powells with Nicole Marcellino from New Day Cleveland on Fox8, courtesy of the Powell family.

“We want to provide more, to eventually produce enough to donate to shelters,” he said. “Even if we’re just making blankets at that time, just to help people in need.”

As far as small businesses go, buying from LiRo not only helps the family who own it, but spreads far into the local community and as far away as the mountains of Peru.

Those looking for unique, beautiful, high quality apparel gifts with heirloom potential will also enjoy knowing that their purchase is making a difference on a global level.

For Black Friday, LiRo is offering 20% off their winter line and home décor items. Shoppers can find them in the Northside Marketplace. LiRo has one of the largest retail areas in Northside, and its located near the back. 

The Rubber City can welcome LiRo by purchasing gifts for family and friends there this holiday season.

Northside Marketplace is located on 21 Furnace St, Akron, OH 44308. The hours of operation are Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 

You can find LiRo on Facebook at, LiRo Apparel & Accessories

To reach content author LeAnna Faulknier, email her here.

Downtown Akron Partnership Announces Downtown Dollars E-Gift Card Program > read more here.