16 Apr 2021

Honest Wolf - accessories from the Turakina Valley

From Country Life, 9:20 pm on 16 April 2021

Sophie and Sam Hurley are turning some of their wool clip into bags, caps, wallets and laptop sleeves. They've been in business less than a year but orders are flying out the door - or rather rumbling down their gravel road towards their destinations.

Sophie Hurley packing an order

Sophie Hurley packing an order Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Some days Sophie Hurley writes 30 hand-written notes to customers. Among other things, she always expresses her gratitude for their support of the wool industry.  

Less than a year ago Sophie and her husband Sam Hurley launched Honest Wolf - a line of accessories made from wool from the family farm, Papanui Estate.

The couple were spurred into action by the pitiful returns from wool.

The Hurley family has been farming deep in Hunterville's hill country for almost 70 years and Sam says last year was the first time it cost them more to shear the sheep than the wool was worth.

So now overnight bags, shopping and tote bags, caps, wallets and lap-top sleeves, all made from felted wool, are adding to the farm income.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The Hurleys farm 25,000 breeding ewes in the Turakina Valley and produce 170 tonnes of wool a year.

Most goes into carpet but now a small but growing portion is sent to India, where it is dyed and machine manufactured into the Honest Wolf range before being shipped back to the farm.

Sophie says they chose the name Honest Wolf because they wanted a fashionable name to go with the brand.

"The 'honest' part came from using honest materials, so we use wool off the farm...grown sustainably and following all the health guidelines. We are pretty open about how we farm.

"And the 'wolf' side - we want to be the leader of the pack using wool in alternative ways."

Sam and Sophie even have woollen dog leads and collars in their range made from off-cuts from one of their bags. Sophie says it was important to waste as little as possible.  

"It's quite different from anything else we are doing but the more wool the better, right?"

Sam Hurley

Sam Hurley Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Turakina Valley sheep country

Turakina Valley sheep country Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Papanui Estate

Papanui Estate Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

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