Regional Startups 2 MIN READ

Since 1898, the property of Glenwood in the western New South Wales community of Wellington has been home to the Smith family and the highest pedigree of Merino wool-producing sheep.

Living on the family farm with their five children, Pip Smith and her husband Norm take a holistic approach to working the land, engaging in sustainable farming practices, including a unique approach to grazing and regeneration and the rest of the land.

In 2015 Pip, along with her brother-in-law Ian Smith, decided to launch a new venture they both say was 120 years in the making. Together they launched Love Merino, an ecommerce / ethical fashion startup.

It’s a company that represents the hard work of over six generations of Smiths that have lived and worked on the farm, laying the foundations to be able to produce a premium wool product through their approach to how they farmed the land and cared for the animals.

Pip and her husband had always wanted to develop a brand using the super fine Merino produced by the farm, to be enjoyed not just by local customers but exported to a global customer base.

“Consumers around the world are becoming increasingly discerning about the ethical and sustainable aspects of fashion,” said Pip.

“They want to know where the product comes from, how it was produced and the story behind the brand. This has been virtually impossible with Merino wool, until now.”

Not only can customers understand the story behind the latest range of Love Merino scarves when they purchase them, but using the company’s innovative ‘fabric to flock’ approach to ethical fashion, the owner of a Love Merino garment can trace the item back to the very sheep on the farm that provided the wool to bring it into existence.

“We have an amazing story and want to share it with the world,” said Pip.

“Glenwood is not just a farming business but a way of life; we aim to achieve a harmonious balance between the environment, animals, business, and our family. Our Merinos are grazed to mimic nature, which has led to the re-emergence of unique species of native grasses thought to be extinct in this region.”

In a move that would cause many metro fashion startups to gasp in despair, Love Merino is quite vocal about embracing a “slow fashion” approach as an ecommerce startup – a concept that goes against the textbook definition of what a startup is.

I would argue, however, that an ecommerce company scaling slow and being profitable, all while creating a significant positive impact on the environment, is just as impressive as what our current startup ecosystem would identify as being a success story.

In addition to embracing a slow fashion ethos, Love Merino is also collaborating with operators like Australian manufacturers Woolerina, artists like Manuela Strano, and design houses like Publisher Textiles and Shibori to produce limited edition pieces inspired by the land and country they all feel a deep connection with.

“Our ultimate goal is for Love Merino to help re-invigorate Australian manufacturing and support the amazing designers, artisans and makers we have in this country,” said Pip.

“We couldn’t be more excited to launch our first collection of luxury Merino scarves and want to build an inclusive community that share our passion for Merino and feel part of our family.”

Featured Image: Love Merino’s Ian Smith (Co-Founder), Manuela Strano (Designer), Tess Lloyd (Operations), Pip Smith (Co-Founder) | Source: Supplied.


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