Hawke’s Bay couple expands to coarser wool on the back of Merino Kids brand

Rural Exchange 17/11/2018

A Kiwi couple is expanding beyond their successful merino clothing brand for a stab at high-end wool furnishings.

James and Amie Nilsson launched Merino Kids back in 2003 – offering soft, superfine merino baby clothing and natural sleeping bags that have since raked in design awards.

“That kicked off pretty well out of Auckland and then pretty rapidly out in the international markets,” Mr Nilsson told RadioLIVE.

The Nilssons even relocated to the United Kingdom for five years to further develop the company with a focus on the European market.

Now back in Hawke’s Bay, the couple run their global wool brand through 11 distributors. The South Island wool is processed and produced into the final product in India, where the final baby products are shipped around the world to 33 countries.

The couple launched another innovative brand in September called Hushaberry Heritage, which sells luxurious soft furnishings and floorings aimed at interior designers and architects.

“It’s evolved, really. After returning to New Zealand, just seeing the hardships of the crossbred growers and the prices they’re not getting…

“[Hushaberry] was around a couple discussions with a couple of big wool companies around ‘let’s try and market wool with a brand face and a quality range of products’,” Mr Nilsson said.

The newly launched brand is owned equally by the Nilssons and CP Wool in a joint venture company, with CP Wool sourcing wool from its 3500 growers and manufacturing services at its NZ Yarns subsidiary in Christchurch.

The Hushaberry range offers products across the spectrum of wool diameter from fine to coarse, with carpet and rugs in almost any colour or pattern.

Mr Nilsson, who has successfully marketed wool beyond New Zealand, says the today’s environment-conscious consumer should be seen as an opportunity for the wool industry.

“With wool, it will last. It is the most renewable resource as, we all know, coming off the sheep’s’ back every year,” he said.

Watch the full interview with James Nilsson above.

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.

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