Mer­its of merino plugged over­seas

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

THOU­SANDS of Rus­sian chil­dren could be wrapped up snugly against harsh north­ern win­ters with Kiwi merino, if two sis­ters have their way. Amy Whetu and Becky Shar­man are draw­ing on years of ex­pe­ri­ence grow­ing up on a Waikato sheep farm near Mata­mata to cre­ate their range of chil­dren’s clothes.

Since 2007 the sis­ters have pro­duced long-sleeved T-shirts, trousers, hats, booties and blan­ket wraps made from merino sourced from Levin. Last month they added cloth­ing for pre­ma­ture ba­bies to their range.

Men­tion merino fi­bre and the pair start ex­tolling its ben­e­fits such as reg­u­lat­ing body tem­per­a­ture and its abil­ity to with­stand the rigours of ac­tive chil­dren.

‘‘It is ab­so­lutely the best thing for chil­dren,’’ Ms Whetu said. ‘‘Con­sid­er­ing how of­ten their chests get wet, with cot­ton the damp just stays there. With merino it is drawn away.’’

The busi­ness formed after they dis­cov­ered a niche in the mar­ket for chil­dren be­tween three and 10 years old but soon re­alised it came with its own chal­lenges. The cost to pro­duce the cloth­ing was on a par with cre­at­ing adult gear.

The small mar­gins meant at­tempts to whole­sale into stores were un­suc­cess­ful.

Last year they moved their stock en­tirely on­line.

Contacts with distri­bu­tion agents in Rus­sia, China and the Baltic coun­tries could see their prod­uct shipped around the globe.

Ms Whetu said it was an ex­cit­ing time to be push­ing their prod­uct and ed­u­cat­ing off­shore pur­chasers.

The duo will host a bush-bash tour for in­ter­na­tional visi­tors dur­ing the Rugby World Cup on their par­ents’ farm near Mata­mata to es­tab­lish more busi­ness contacts.

En­tre­pre­neur­ial mums: Becky Shar­man, left, with Tabitha and Amy Whetu with Rodie are plan­ning on tak­ing their merino prod­uct to the world.

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