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Honest Wolf: sustainability and market values

At a time when sustainability is the holy grail of our survival there are some clever businesses that are embracing their role in sustainability and meeting market values.

Introducing Honest Wolf, a brand making everyday goods from wool grown on the founders, Sophie and Sam Hurley's farm, Papanui Estate, with the addition of locally sourced New Zealand leather for that extra bit of swagger. Their name coming from being a leader among the pack (like a wolf) in wanting to use honest materials such as wool and leather in an honest way. 

I talk to Sophie about how the new thriving brand Honest Wolf came to be and how their values and sustainability have played their role.

Honest Wolf founders, Sophie and Sam Hurley

Where did the inspiration come from to start the business?

"I was previously working for GlobalHQ - who own Farmers Weekly and I drove in and out of work each day - a 2 hour return trip. Which left me alot of thinking time! It was on one of these drives that it was announced that plastic bags were going to be removed from all retail in New Zealand, wh ich led to Sam and I thinking there must be a way we can use wool in replace of the plastic bag - as we were not getting the returns from wool that we had in previous years and we knew there were so many uses for natures wonder product. After many discussions over the years we cracked on and started to work on our products and here we are."

What are the founding values behind the business/brand/product?

"We have a passion for the wool industry, and believe in the natural qualities of the product that drives us to look for alternative uses in replace of the inferior quality of fast fashion that we so often see in today's society."

What does sustainability mean to you and Honest Wolf?

"We have produced products that have longevity, durability and provenance. We believe that you buy once and you buy right - so we would like our products to be of lifetime use to the consumer."

Why is sustainability important?

"It is important because of the environment that we are living in - and the way that consumers are being pushed to continue to buy goods that in turn are detrimental to the environment."

Who are you targeting with your product?

"We wish to reach consumers all through the country and teach them the qualities of nature's wonder product and in turn will help awareness of the wool industry. We are not limited to just the rural industry - as we believe that our products can service urban fashion whilst being educational. This is why we have chosen to place a topographic map of our farm as the lining of all our bags, to ensure our products always remain connected with the land and hopefully drive consumers to ask more about where their products have come from.

We are also looking to drive the corporate industry into purchasing goods made from NZ wool for their conferences, uniforms and presents to their staff and customers. So we are able to fulfil large orders for this reason."

How has the reception/response been?

"We are really happy with the response so far - and also very surprised! To be sold out of various products within a few weeks of launch was amazing, so we quickly realised we needed to get more of our wool ready for production and build up our stock levels.

The power of social media is in full swing, and has been our own way of getting our message out there. It has been a timely launch in regard to the movements that have come from Covid - buy local and buy NZ wool being encouraged to consumers and we are lucky to be part of that movement."

What has surprised or shocked you through the process?

"The support from strangers! People are believing in what we are trying to do, we have a simple story we are telling and it is easily understood. The messages of support and sharing of our business is so lovely - we are very lucky.

It is amazing how we can live in the middle of a valley in the middle of the north island, and communication and logistics can be as if I was in an office in the big smoke. Our goods are sent daily with our rural delivery driver and can sometimes be delivered overnight."

What are your hopes for the future?

"I hope what we've done encourages everyone that you can make and impact from anywhere!"

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