A Q&A with Smitten Merino
Smitten Merino uses pure Merino wool to make clothing so soft it feels like you’re being hugged by a cloud. We speak to founder Nicola Mason and find out more about her Tasmanian-based family business.
How do you live a wild and meaningful life?
As we are a small tight knit family business (my daughter is the model and face of Smitten, my husband is our accounts and marketing and I am the designer, stylist and photographer, this can lead to some wild and meaningful times in itself! Take a photo-shoot day on the beach for example. We’re there at 6.30am to watch the sun rise and spend all morning shooting together. There, the three of us revel in the magic of working together.
Another thing that makes us feel alive is the support of our amazing customers. We feel very fortunate that our customers share their stories with us and have kept up the support throughout the lockdown period.
What are the values behind your sustainable clothing brand, Smitten Merino?
As a brand, Smitten Merino strives to embody sustainability, honesty, inclusiveness, transparency and integrity. We choose people before profit and view our work in fashion as an opportunity for education and change.
For us, what we do as a business must be good for Tasmania by creating employment, supporting local farming and be good for the planet. We pride ourselves by only working with fabrics that are sustainable, ethically made and biodegradable.
At Smitten Merino, we want our business to be a respected part of the Tasmanian community. We give back by donating to causes that matter to us and that are important in our community. These include an ongoing commitment to the Save the Tassie Devil foundation, the Bush Babies foundation following the Tassie bushfires, the Volunteer Firefighters in early 2020, World Vision, The Bob Brown Foundation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, The Red Cross, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Council.
We’re also a 100 per cent plastic-free business. We post online orders in compostable post bags and use our fabric scraps for beanies, headbands and parcel ties. Although we are a small family business, we are not too small to make a difference.
Tell us about the fabrics you use
For 95 per cent of our garments, we use a new-generation circular-knitted superfine Merino fabric. It is from wool farmed in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW and knitted into fabric in Melbourne for us. This is a fabric that is machine-washable, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. It breathes, is odour-resistant and barely needs ironing. It really is a wonder fabric!
We are proud to work with fabric businesses that are like-minded, eco conscious and are collaborative with product development. We know what our customers are looking for and want to be relevant while creating a product that is timeless — and will last a lifetime.
The wool we use is all non-mulesed, which is very important to us. At Smitten Merino we care about animal welfare, as do our customers.
How does the Tasmania landscape influence your designs?
The beautiful Tasmanian landscape inspires my designs in many ways. The incredible light in Tassie is unlike anywhere else in Australia. When you are looking at the river at dusk, across to snow-capped Mount Wellington or walking through the green hued rainforest, the light can quite literally take your breath away. From these vistas I get new ideas for unique colour combinations, fabric designs or just great material for a photo shoot backdrop.
At the moment we are surrounded by fabulous golden leaved trees. We are lucky enough to live near the river, surrounded by the forest and lots of birds. All of these things can trigger my imagination for exciting colour combinations or new styles.
What are some of your winter rituals?
Tasmania is a fantastic place to create winter rituals. A ritual that my family and I started a few years ago was the icy winter solstice dip in the river at dawn. It’s freezing yet exhilarating and a magical way to welcome back the sun and longer days to our lives.
We also love a winter escape tour around Tassie; Cradle Mountain to stay at the Lodge, walk the beautiful Dove Lake loop, enjoy the snow, then over to Freycinet for a wild beach walk looking out for the black cockatoos. Practising yoga by the light of the full moon. Walking 10 minutes down the road into Hobart to enjoy red wine and wood-fired pizza every and planting tomato seedlings on Show Day in October.
What’s next for Smitten Merino?
In March this year we had plans to go to the US on a trade mission and look at new international markets, but COVID-19 changed all that. More importantly, we are embracing this new world and keeping our local customers informed and engaged. We’re certainly appreciating the amazing value of our local supply chain and keeping our local team of seamstresses employed.
Being local, honest and transparent has always been a strong value of our company — and these are more necessary than ever before. We’re staying connected and relevant to our customers through email and social media channels. We’re excited to share that our Smitten flagship boutique in Hobart is now open!
We will keep doing what we are doing — imagining and sewing timeless and classic merino clothing here in Tasmania that you can wear for years and years.
For more, visit smittenmerino.com
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