This Christmas Choose Wool, But first enjoy Purple Sheep’s 80′s style Wham tribute to “Last Christmas”
We are all experts at something, and we all have something to say. Recently I was listening, for a change, and actually learnt something. Well, I was reminded of something.
When you talk, speak in the language of your audience. Wool people talk in textile terminology, which is fine if you talk to a weaver, but really dumb when you talk to a retailer.
When an IT consultant talks in jargon, do we trust her or wonder if we are going to be ripped off? When a mechanic sucks air through his teeth and talks about machine parts we prepare ourselves for a shock.
I was listening to Jim Hanna of Starbucks recently and he could not emphasize enough how talking Business language to business people had made the difference in the internal battle to sell sustainability within Starbucks.
Talking about saving trees does not make an accountant happy, but talking about making more profit by improving staff retention, reducing energy costs and streamlining value chains – that’s gets the bean counters on board and the HR department and the store designers…
Language is too important to trust to the linguists. Lets keep it simple and build some trust.
I don’t normally talk about Fashion, I am an interiors bloke. But this is important.
April 14 2014 will be Fashion Revolution Day.
On the 24th of April this year 1,113 people were killed and over 2,500 people injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka.
All of us are going to change this situation, It is time to get involved in a positive way.
On the 14th of April we will celebrate fashion as a positive influence. It will simply ask “Who made your clothes”
Wear a garment in-side out , take a picture and post it, everywhere. Use the hashtag #inside-out.
In the mean-time find your favourite garment and write to the manufacturer, ask the question “who made my clothes” and post the answer or lack of on your social media spaces
Only pressure from us citizens of earth can change the world. What are we aiting for?
Of course It’s not just about fashion. To be truly sustainable we have to aim higher than zero (waste). We have to plan to make a positive impact on the people who make our products and the people who use them. There are plenty of low-cost furnishing retailers who also need to improve their game with regards to ethical trading. Why not ask your furniture store who made your kit set coffee table? Who grew the wool in your rug?
p.s. No image on this post – try a google image search for “Rana Plaza” It will shock you.
A very strong trend right now is CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and for a very small organisation of only 16 people, Wools of New Zealand does a lot in this area. We put it all under the Wool for a Better World banner.
We do this stuff because it’s the right thing to do and because it gives our team of passionate people an element of pride to work for a socially minded company.
What I’m noticing is that everyone now has a CSR statement. On the surface this is good, but I worry, jut slightly, that we are entering the next phase of green washing, or CSR-washing, as we may need to call it.
Are companies making a care statement because it is part of what they do, part of the culture of the organisation? Or is the marketing department making a claim that has no real substance?
Green-washing became a marketing sin, and it looks like fake CSR claims might be next.
I’m really glad that quite a few of our partner companies are heavily into supporting their local communities and wider social and environmental issues. A good cause often takes the focus away from business as usual and gets people working together, trusting each other and building partnerships that are good for business.
One of my friendly contacts reminded me about Movember so I decided to sacrifice my upper lip to help the campaign. Now that I’m trotting about the UK sporting a fuzzy caterpillar on my face I’m getting a few sideways glances, but mostly I’m getting a pat on the back and smile from people who realise that its not an attempt to look like a Hawaiian private detective from the 80’s, its all for a good cause and a bit of fun.
It is worth checking out Movember, not only is it a fun way to raise awareness of men’s health issues, it a very well run digital marketing campaign and a brilliant example of the power of the internet to make things happen.
You can see my fuzzy caterpillar at my MoSpace here or click on my silly grin.
I have just put up a new front page to our UK company website. Trying to go with the whole “less is more” minimalist approach. See what you think. Just click on the image..
Give me a reason or just **** off.
I’ve noticed a surge in spam and general electronic clutter. It is annoying me! Rather than making a song and dance I thought I’d just blog. It’s not just spam, too many people are generating meaningless content.
When we are the creator of anything we take on responsibility to create something that matters. If it has no reason that will benefit the reader it should simply not exist.
Are you creating content to entertain, to inform, to rally for a cause, or are you just creating noise to get seen and to increase your fans and followers?
Don’t tweet unless you have a profound statement. Only recommend followers that create brilliant content, and tell your followers why. This will get you followers that follow you for your insights and high-quality connections.
Don’t ever send me an email to try and sell me something, especially not digital marketing services. If you knew about marketing you would phone me (yourself, not your Asian call centre).
You probably get the message.. Junk gets ignored and puts you in the trash can.
Lets all strive to pull not push. Create something wonderful and put it out there, followers and customers will come. Don’t create beige content and spam people who don’t care. It does you more damage than you realise.
This goes for real world stuff too. Lets create lovely woolly things that people will cherish. Lets create stuff that is worth re-tweeting.
Please leave your spam in the field provided below.
A short film cobbled together from footage I took in New Zealand this month.. It shows the shearing (wool harvesting) process. Check it out..
Bit of a soap box rant – but I’m on the defensive.
A concerned colleague of mine recently brought it to my attention that vinyl producers are claiming that their synthetic plastic material (Poly Vinyl Chloride) is more eco-friendly than our wool!!
The study of wool vs. vinyl for public transport claims that wool is smelly, harbors germs and wears out when used in high traffic areas like trains and buses. It’s no surprise that the study references its own organization for its data, and does not back up any of its claims on sustainability.
However this is a warning shot. The synthetic guys cannot compete on comfort, on naturalness, on end-of-life solutions or on the pure feel good factor of wool, so they tend to green-wash, and they are very convincing.
As more people wake up and smell the lanolin we will see more attacks on wool.
Don’t be fooled by false claims.
The study forgets to mention the carcinogenic dioxins produced in the creation of PVC. It states that the manufacturer has a mission to become sustainable and that they plan to put an end-of –life solution on place. This translates to; we are not sustainable yet and we still don’t know what to do with the toxic plastic when the seats on the train get torn.
Try sitting on wool on a hot day, then try sitting on vinyl that has been in the sun.
It has been a few weeks since my last post – sorry! Coming soon will be a few pieces about my travels through New Zealand to meet with wool growers. Attached is a picture of A Laneve farmer and Wools of New Zealand Chairman, Mark Shadbolt, with the Creative Director of Camira Fabrics, Cheryl Kindness.
Cheryl knows exactly where her wool comes from.
Expect lots of sheep pictures soon…
I’d like to introduce you to Brooke Feldman. Brooke looks after digital marketing for Nourison who make brilliant rugs from New Zealand wool. Brooke and I have been working together on some new ideas that we can share more details on soon. In the meantime I thought it would be nice to get some fresh insights and views from a talented young American woman who is learning to love wool…
Here is what Brooke has to share…
When the word rug or carpet comes in mind, what does it make you think of? For me, I go back to my grandma’s old house. She had this amazing white carpet that was soft to the touch and very plush. I loved to lay on it with my feet dangling in the air while I watched TV. Those memories in that little house come into my head now and then. As a digital marketer for Nourison, I’m thinking of my audience constantly and what an impact of a specific product or design we carry has that creates memories.
Nourison Industries is a leading multi-category resource in today’s floor covering markets. We specialize in area rugs, broadloom, home accents and have a whole hospitality division. We create everything from the everyday home design, to luxurious patterns seen in some exotic destinations in the world. It’s incredible the amount of collections we have and to see what our designers come up with every day.
I find myself walking around our showrooms running my fingers through different rugs. Why? Feeling and seeing our rugs gives me a sense of each customer and what design might fit a chic New Yorker, or a the adventurous sailor in Cape Cod. How each of these “finishing touches” is important to decorating: the icing on the cake to any room.
We think as a company about sustainability not just for the environment, but how a product can reflect a personal style and last for many years to come. That’s why we choose wool. First and foremost, over 95% of our floor coverings (over 64 individual collections) are made from wool and wool blends. As a carpet fiber, wool is non-allergenic, produces low emissions, and actually has air-purifying properties. Wool is natural, biodegradable, and renewable resource that is produced using environmentally friendly, energy efficient and safe methods.
The other factor we consider as a company is the positive impact of using wool, and how it helps us give back. Nourison’s wool processing provides sustenance for thousands of people in hundreds of villages throughout the world. Where sheep herding and cotton farming are a way of life, the animals are treated in these villages with care and respect. The natural materials are harvested and process with pride. Also, the best part about using wools from Wools from New Zealand is that they are universally acknowledged as the purest, whitest wools on the planet. Makes me want to have a pet lamb of my own that sits by me at my desk…either that or take a trip to New Zealand.
For us at Nourison, using wool has a double benefit. We care about the needs of our customers; what they need to make their home trendy, as well as provide a product that will never fail in quality. Likewise, using a natural fiber is a way of giving back to the environment. With a conscious eye on the sustainability of a collection, we continue to produce rugs that will never fail each of our customers. We’re going green whenever possible, how about you?
Nourison’s website is here..
Our mantra to the market is all about “knowing where the wool comes from” Why? If you don’t know who made it and where, how can you measure quality, value, sustainability, ethics, etc..? But more importantly its about communication and trust.
We maintain that by connecting farmers and brands we are able to supply better fibre that is made for the job at hand. It has to go both ways, as well as talking to the market we have to report market opportunities and trends back to the woolgrowers.
With all this in mind I am really excited to have been asked to travel to New Zealand to bridge the 14,000-mile gab between our growers and our customers. Ill be speaking alongside our Chairman and CEO about the amazing opportunities that are there for the taking with our wool.
We will be getting to 17 rural communities in 9 days to talk to the people who grow the best wool in the world. We aim to inspire more farmers to join us. We hope to install confidence to our current growers and we hope to learn a lot along the way.
If you are in New Zealand and you have a few sheep, grab a few friends and come along. We kick off in Wellsford on September 23rd. There full schedule is here
For those of you who are not sheep farmers – why not – just look at these cute fuzzy little sheep!
Ask more by sending an email to email@example.com
The Finishing touch is how one of our customers recently described the rugs they manufacture. They describe what they do as part of the experience a customer has not just of their beautiful New Zealand Wool rugs, but also of the total experience of the interior.
This focus on the customer experience is exactly in-tune with how we need to position our lovely New Zealand wool.
We don’t breed sheep, or shear wool, or spin yarn, tuft carpet or weave fabric.
If we want to be successful we have to think not as part of a process but as part of what it means to the end user to own our wool.
Our job is to deliver the ultimate experience with wool. The feeling of walking bare foot on your soft new wool and knowing you have made a wise and ethical investment.
We in the wool business know how amazing it feels to walk on wool. The challenge is to make people aspire to have that experience for themselves. We could put wool carpet down at airport security so people have to feel the luxury but it is not the time that people are focused on home decorating.
We have to communicate the experience of wool in an era when advertising is already dead, and to consumers dotted all over the world. Thank goodness for Blogs and social media.
Increasingly we rely on wool ambassadors, people who love wool and can spread the good word. Interior Designers and smart retailers have the customer’s attention at the right time, and they really know how to apply the finishing touch.
If you are wondering about the customer, its Nourison, You can experience them here.
Gorillas in the wool.
This is Titus (of Gorillas in the mist fame) as drawn by Emma J Shipley, a graduate of London’s Royal College of Art.
Emma has worked with Camira Fabrics to create the Titus and Tangled collections, printed onto beautiful Laneve wool from New Zealand. Emma is known for her amazingly intricate and detailed line drawings. Her style has been described as “meticulously precise” and “astonishingly skilful and distinctive”.
Camira Fabrics are known for technical excellence and stunningly attractive interior upholstery fabrics. They are a team of highly motivated textile innovators with a social conscience. This is the same Camira who have worked with Wools of New Zealand to support the endangered Hector’s Dolphin.
This time Camira are supporting the Gorilla Organization, which works internationally to protect the world’s remaining gorillas in their natural habitat in Central Africa.
More information on Camira’s website..
Camira have produced two designs from Emma Shipley’s artwork, both printed on Blazer fabric which is woven with Laneve wool (all traceable to our farms)
Measuring the full lifestyle effect.
Manufacturers of synthetic carpet fiercely push their eco-credentials. Their websites are full of statements about how low their carbon footprint is and how their plastic tiles can be recycled. All very noble but somewhat ironic.
What about the customer experience of the product? How proud do people feel when they Facebook their friends to say. “Hey I just got a new plastic floor covering! Its’ made from real oil and it gives off wonderful static shocks. Apparently it will only take 400 years to biodegrade!”
Wool does so much more.
A wool carpet will last for years, far far longer than polyester.
It will feel soft underfoot and its ability to absorb moisture from the air reduces the risk of static shocks.
Wool absorbs toxins form the air and locks them away, actually purifying the indoor environment.
Wool is fire retardant whereas synthetic products melt and give off toxic fumes (they are made from oil)
Wool is anti-allergenic.
And of course wool is an amazing heat insulator; Homes with wool carpets will feel warmer and dryer and have lower heating costs.
Shouldn’t the experience of living with a product be considered as part of its sustainability profile? Shouldn’t a products environmental impact take into account the energy it saves for years after it is installed?
If a plastic tile claims a low carbon footprint, is it right to ignore the longer term failures of the product to do what wool can do for human comfort and energy conservation?
At the end of the day wool has been protecting sheep for thousands of years and has evolved to be a complex and highly technical fibre. As clever as the oil man thinks his plastic fibres are he is still falling a long way short of what nature has built into wool.
According to sustainablebrands.com over 50% of global consumers are willing to pay more for socially responsible products.
This varies according to markets demographics, with European consumers being more skeptical than Asian consumers. But the numbers are staggering. People really do care about the integrity and the impact of what they purchase, at least half of them do anyway.
As with everything it’s about building trust. People love brands that they trust and they will show loyalty and forgiveness. Brands that consistently deliver a feel good experience will win every time.
Buying natural products supports rural farming communities, buying synthetic products supports the oil industry. Maybe if people thought about this they would use more wool?
What we have to do is pull heart-strings. It’s our job to build trust and to deliver integrity. With real stories that resonate with the half of consumers who care.
Perhaps we need to stop making sustainability statements on corporate websites? No one cares what your carbon footprint is, that was last centuries obsession. Make a care statement instead, but make it real.
More information on the Sustainable Brands survey is here