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"We just got sick of seeing people not wearing wool. Everyone is going on about doing something about the state of the wool industry, but no-one ever actually does anything. We just decided we might as well have a go ourselves," Mr Hellewell said at the time.
The couple set about creating coarse wool jerseys from the clip of their Perendale lambs’ wool, and lined them with merino. Their lambs’ fleece is sent to Timaru to be scoured, then on to Wellington to be spun and dyed. The finished wool is then sent to Dunedin to be knitted into the jerseys by the team at Otago Knitwear.
Mr Hellewell said the business has been quietly “chipping away” over the last few years; the couple were conscious of keeping their overheads as low as possible to make the jerseys affordable.
“We don’t lease any buildings or pay staff. It’s just Muzz and I doing it all from home,” Mrs Hellewell said.
“Although we are getting pretty tight for space to store stock so we may need to think about expanding at some stage,” she added.
The couple were adding a coat to their product line, made with a canvas outer and coarse wool inner.
They had received support for their business from all over the lower half of the South Island. The couple had had trade stalls at the Wanaka and Fairlie A&P shows last summer, and had noticed an increase in sales since then.
“We get a lot of support from rural businesses and collie clubs.”
Poolburn Primary School children have been wearing the jerseys for the past three years. Principal Melissa Gare said the jerseys were a welcome change to the school uniform.
“With merino on the inside and strong wool on the outer, they are a true reflection of our farming community. And they also wear better than our previous merino tops which tended to rip over time.”
Mrs Gawd said the school was lucky to have a devoted home and school committee which fundraised and subsidised the jerseys to make them more affordable for families.
“The kids are cosy and warm, and they look really smart in them. They like wearing them too, which is the most important thing,” she said.