Talking Wool CPD

This month Wools of New Zealand ran its very first Continued Professional Development (CPD) seminar for members of the Society of British International Design (SBID) in London.

WNZ SBID CPD

Me talking wool. – Image courtesy Marek Sikora – Click for more.

For interior designers to stay relevant they need to keep learning about the materials they specify in human habitats and they have to do this to stay accredited to professional organisations like SBID.

Over a glass of New Zealand wine, and with London as a backdrop we went to the next step in influencing, influential people to specify Kiwi wool.

In two hours we grabbed the attention of some of London’s best architects and designers and focused their attention on wool. We followed up with a book about our New Zealand wool and we made sure everyone took home a catalogue that featured Laneve products (so these people can buy our wool)

The presentation is rich in lifestyle imagery and messages around the benefits of New Zealand wool to the environment and the human habitat. There was the occasional sheep picture too. The question and answer session was lively so we had people engaged and we got people thinking.

This cost time and money, but its free for SBID members to attend.   We do this because ultimately architects and interior designers are our customers. These are the people that demand style, innovation, integrity, provenance and sustainability.   Now a handful of these people are thinking a little bit more about using wool.

London from NZ House

The view outside was amazing – click for more..

Measuring Goodness

We (Industry & Brands) have a habit of measuring goodness by highlighting the bad things we stopped doing.  We think we are sustainable as we are polluting less, wasting less energy, using fairer labour.   We are planning to do less bad and have a net zero effect on the planet.

This “less bad” attitude is just not good enough.   The true measure of sustainability has to be about what positive impact our value chains have on the people our products touch in their creation and their use and their re-use.

We use only renewable energy is a step, but if it meant putting C02 into the atmosphere for the 1000 tonne concrete base of a wind turbine then it is really just less bad than burning fossil fuel.  Planning to need less energy is better than finding slightly cleaner energy.   It can take 30 years for a wind turbine to become carbon neutral!

What kind of earth do we want our grandchildren to inherit? I vote for a clean one with 9 billion happy people.

We get to Utopia by imagining the ideal planet and by building smarter value chains.   We measure sustainability by what we do to reach Utopia, not by measuring the stupid activity we reduced.

We remember the athlete that wins the race, not the guy that went from last position to somewhere in the middle.   We can celebrate success when the rivers are clean and the people are fed, we should not celebrate that we still have landfill, just not as many as we might have done..

earth from apollo 8

Finite Earth from apollo 8

The Case for Sustainability.

The business case for sustainability has been won, but somebody forgot to tell the generals and the troops.

Sustainability is not just about being green,  it is the difference between success and failure.

There are people with their eyes and ears open and their mouths shut. People who stopped trying to be alpha male and who started listening.  These people have figured out where the market is going.   The market, all markets are driven by consumer sentiment and by legislation.

The trend for ethics, responsibility, trust and perceived value is one way. It is only getting stronger and we are never going back to rubbish products made who knows where using who knows what by who knows who.

If you cannot see the future, if predicting trend and shaping the future is a mystery to you, then well, you stumbled into the wrong blog.

In the future we only buy from brands we trust, manufacturers compete on quality, ethics, transparency and price. Price is driven through efficiency not through cutting corners.

The race to the bottom that killed western textile mills is in the past. In the future we are not just clever, we are wise.   The mills are coming back, but they will never be the same, they will be awesome, efficient, quality organisations with highly motivated and educated teams.

 The future is now. Tell your boss, your CEO and your Chairman, your customer is already there.

New Zealand wool factory

Wool growing in New Zealand

 

Einstein and Spherical Sheep in a Vacuum

Today is Albert Einstein’s birthday, and weirdly there is no Goggle Doodle celebrating the great man?

Albert Einstein

Albert Eintein

With no Einstein we would not understand the curvature of space and time, we would not know how to bend light and we could not colour wool to be purple using surface Plasmon Resonance, What a dull place the world would be.

Its 135 years since Albert Einstein was born,  at that time the light bulb, which has become a symbol for new ideas, was about to be demonstrated.  Science was about to take us from the industrial revolution into an incredible period of human enlightenment.

Science can now do anything with wool.  Providing we use a spherical sheep inside a vacuum. (Science joke there)

We are however at the start of the next great period in human history when we take the enormous accomplishments made by science and use that knowledge to create a world that is a better place for all of its inhabitants.

The next revolution is about finding ways to deliver luxury without burning through the world’s resources.  We are exploring how we can use science to turn the clock back to 1879 before the world became dependent on oil and to re-invent technologies using rapidly renewable materials, like wool.

Choose Wool

Choose Wool

Purple Sheep goes all out in an 80’s Wham tribute.

This Christmas Choose Wool,  But first enjoy Purple Sheep’s 80’s style Wham tribute to “Last Christmas”

CSR, Facial Hair and Wool

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.

Steven Parsons Movember

My hard to see Fuzzy Caterpillar

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.

New Zealand Road Trip

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!

Kiwi Farmer with Lambs

Kiwi Farmer Andrew Freeman – Courtesy Beef & Lamb NZ.

Ask more by sending an email to ask@ourwool.co.nz