Kerrie Richards’ love of wool and life on the land has led to her taking the raw product beyond the farm gate to value-adding and marketing of the finished product under the brand - Merino Country.
Born and bred in Richmond, North West Queensland, Kerrie completed a Bachelor of Business Degree in Personnel Management & Marketing at Griffith University on the Gold Coast. She worked with Golden Casket in North Queensland as their Promotions and Public Relations Officer before the call of the land became too much.
In 1992, Kerrie, headed home to Clareborough Station to help on the family sheep and cattle station and set up a consultancy business, providing a financial management service to primary producers. At this time she also took on the position of Development Co-ordinator for the Richmond district assisting local industries to identify and develop opportunities in the area.
From amongst the numerous projects, including a beef marketing group, grew a wool-grower group who wanted to promote wool, which is where Kerrie’s current business, Merino Country, has developed from and where her involvement with woolgrowers stems.
In 1997 a Nuffield Farming Scholarship was awarded to Kerrie enabling her to travel to Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe. The five months was spent working on not only her study topic (Processing & Marketing of Wool and Primary Producer Co-operatives), but also accessing the Nuffield Network of people to learn about other agricultural industries, value-added businesses and farming interests.
Kerrie has been actively involved in wool promotions for many years taking a holistic approach in order to entertain people whilst educating them about the unique properties of wool and the new and innovative products now available. Kerrie was responsible for the 1998 and 1999 Brisbane Royal Show Wool Parades along with other wool promotions around the country.
Kerrie is utilizing her experience, skills and considerable knowledge of the wool industry in her own business and also to assist woolgrowers to access direct markets and value-add to their wool. She was recently a Queensland finalist in the Rural Womens’ Awards for her work with the Wool Industry. In March this year, Kerrie presented a paper on value-adding and niche marketing at the 2001 Commonwealth Agricultural Conference in Durban, South Africa, chaired by His Royal Highness, Prince Phillip.
Kerrie say’s that “My aim is to contribute to the long-term profitability and viability of the wool industry through putting mechanisms in place to ensure:
- Efficient and Consistent Supply of Wool
- Direct Links with end-users
- Development of niche markets for wool
- Efficient and Effective Promotion of wool”
To achieve these aims she is working on linking the participants of the wool marketing chain together. This involves working from both ends looking at not only consistent supply of product but by also creating demand for both raw wool and value added products - a push/pull effect to get more wool circulating. This is to be achieved by:
Linking woolgrowers closer to the market and to provide buyers and processors with easy access to Queensland wool.
Increasing markets for value-added wool products (in particular the WUNDIES - wool undies) through a co-ordinated distribution and marketing campaign.
From selling wool gear out of the shearers quarters in Western Queensland, Kerrie established a retail outlet in Paddington, Brisbane, hence her motto - from Paddock to Paddington! Merino Country is responsible for the processing of wool through to fabric, the design and manufacturing of garments and the marketing of the end products - wool t-shirts, skivvies, polo shirts, Wundies and much more.