It was the nineties and the Queensland wool industry was struggling through drought and low wool prices. Searching through stores for Australian wool everyday wear, would have you coming home empty handed. It was a quiet time for Queensland wool, but something was stirring inside of Kerrie Richards. These hard times was the fuel that ignited her idea for merino wool clothing line, ‘Merino Country’.
With next to zero traceability of an Australian wool clip from farm to fibre and a lack of affordable everyday wear merino clothing available to the public, Kerrie was smacked in the face with a gaping hole in the Australian clothing industry. Her new business started humbly in her parents shearing quarters near Richmond Qld, but soon outgrew the space and relocated to Brisbane (where Merino Country is still located today).
The shop front for Merino Country’s base is rather humble for the buzzing clothing enterprise being run behind it’s doors. The shop is a merino wool clothing haven with racks full of beautifully soft fabric, the kind you just want to rub your face in. The vibrant colours of the garments, an inspiration from the Australian outback.
Kerrie places high importance on the traceability of her fibre and the transparency of her business also runs through the manufacturing process. Pass through the shop front and the world of the final processing stages of the garment making, opens up right before your eyes.
Local seamstresses are head down at their sewing machines, Malcolm Pain is busy on the massive Gerber Laying Up and Automated Cutting Machine. And you’ll find Kerrie greeting you at her office door, welcoming you with her infectious smile and warm hug, followed closely by Millie the resident canine (every woolly workplace needs a working dog). It has an authentic feel to it and a sense of pride to be keeping it all Australian made.
While it may feel homely down at Merino Country, the durable, easy care garments are known across the world and adorn some pretty important bodies too. The Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces, Victorian Police and police dogs have been kitted out with Merino Country. They’re even keeping the Australian Antarctic Division cosy in their thermals.
A simple idea really, that has helped keep bucks in Australia and provide more opportunity for the everyday Australian to enjoy our beautiful fibre, everyday! Buying Merino Country means supporting rural Australia and business and making a responsible, ethical choice for your wardrobe. Now, that feels good.
Personally, Kerrie is also an avid supporter of the wool industry and has not only dedicated her life to creating her beautiful clothing line, but making positive changes to the industry, educating others in wool and slow fashion and inspiring women in business. A Nuffield Scholar, Rural Womens Award finalst, Women in Business Awards finalist and Judge/Mentor for the Australian Wool Fashion Awards in 2007/2008 – this incredible woman knows how to kick ass.
Kerrie is a credit to the Australian wool industry and we are damn proud to call her our own.
(To purchase your own Merino Country garments, visit www.merinocountry.com)