One can be forgiven for thinking that wool is only for those in frosty locales. After all, we are most familiar with those chunky cable knit sweaters that keep out the cold. Dynamo Kerrie Richards is on a worldwide mission to change this common misconception. Kerrie is doing it one customer at a time, finding solutions to their problems using the eco-friendly merino wool.
It is a winning combination that has set the stage for successful business growth over the last twenty-five years and it was instrumental in re-energizing the Australian wool industry.
Kerrie’s background in farming combined with marketing and finance was the catalyst to help other local farmers look beyond the farm gate and to get more people to buy wool. At the time she could not have imagined that the initial concept would take her on this incredible journey arriving where she is today, getting ready to show at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017.
Kerrie shares her amazement at the places in the world Merino wool has taken her and the types of doors that have opened. She lunched with Prince Philip, visited Buckingham Palace, sipped cocktails on the HMAS Paramatta, journeyed to Durban, South Africa and explored cooperatives in Asia and Europe studying Manufacturing & Marketing of Merino Wool.
Kerrie has designed ballistic underwear for defence, fitted police with covert garments for under their armour and solved complex customer problems.
Merino Wool Is A Unique Eco-Friendly Fabric
- Named for the Merino sheep originating in Spain. The first sheep came to Australia in the late 1700’s. Breeding eventually developed even finer fibers.
- Composed of keratin, an organic biodegradable product like hair, it decomposes.
- Prized for being soft and finely textured (finer than the average human hair).
- It mimics our bodies temperature regulation because it is protein based. It cools when hot and warms when cold.
- The fibers have the capacity to absorb large amounts of moisture and wick it out to evaporate which keeps your skin dry.
- Its chemical structure locks in sweat and body odor until you wash it, so you smell fresh, even if you are in 100-degree weather or working hard at the gym.
- Naturally UV and fire resistant, chemicals do not need to be added to the fibers.
- The corkscrew nature of the fiber structure increases its’ elasticity and retains memory. It bends easily and returns to its natural shape which benefits the garment life by keeping its shape. This also means it is amazing for traveling.
Merino Country Is Customer Responsive
Merino Country treat customers as friends and family. If a customer has a problem, they draw up a team and brainstorm solutions around their table.
This process has served them well, driving innovation and new product development. Kerrie is particularly proud of the products that are making cancer patients journey more comfortable. The fabric breaths and absorbs sweat, calming chemo side effects.
Again she rose to solve a customer’s needs when one dragon boat paddler reached out to say she had a problem with her mastectomy prosthesis chafing when she paddled. Kerrie designed a wool prosthesis (Merino Mammary) that fits into a specially designed bra to resolve the issue.
Right now she is designing a special merino wool pillowcase. A woman in menopause raised the issue of night sweats leaving her pillow soaking wet. We identify with that problem! Kerrie points out many of their items are suitable as sleepwear and the wicking properties will help address this issue generally.
Insights Into A Thriving Business Model
Kerrie and her husband Malcolm Pain have nurtured a business built on family values. Those principles come from their farming roots. Their success in part is because they share a passion for the product, for the land and a love of people.
A small, close circle of skilled women make up their staff. Interestingly enough many are over forty-five. Kerrie appreciates the wisdom, experience and work ethic they bring to the business table.
When asked what advice Kerrie has for women starting a business she contemplated the multitude of lessons:
“Know your product. Keep your business focused and simple. Understand your financing. What is your goal, what will it cost and what is your product timeline from the beginning until your customer has taken possesion? Under promise, over deliver and listen to your customer.”
Kerrie shared that her great-great-grandfather from Switzerland planted the first grapes for growing wine in Queensland. Imagine, but for the luck of the draw, her industry might have been wine. She loves them both. Kerrie and Merino Country are proud that their merino wool is eco-friendly all-season, ethical and comfortable but above all, it is versatile and makes fabulous fashion! Watch for them at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017.
Check out all that is happening at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017