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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE 5 OFF-FARM Sara Jane, a former Boutique Eco trainee, wearing fashionable Merino apparel sold at Boutique Eco. FAST FACTS l Businesswoman Tegan Arnold has set up two retail stores in WA stocking garments made from only natural fibres, with Merino wool as the stores’ signature. l Her passion stems from her grazier father’s love for sheep as well as her upbringing on a working sheep farm. l She enjoys spreading her love for Merino products and is a proud advocate of the Campaign for Wool. From farm to fashion Eco fashion – especially wool – is stylish and fashionable. That’s the call from savvy Western Australian businesswomen Tegan Arnold who is doing her fair share to spread the love of Merino wool through her concept stores which have a 100 per cent focus on products made from natural fibres. Boutique Eco was the creation of Mrs Arnold’s passion for eco-friendly fashion and stemmed from her upbringing on the family farm in Yallingup, a few hours south of Perth. Mrs Arnold’s retail concept was created locally and is partnered with her parents’ businesses Merino Wool Fashions and Yallingup Shearing Shed. This working sheep farm – owned and operated by Mrs Arnold’s parents Steve and Yvonne Butterly who have more than 25 years’ experience – stocks a completely unique range of wool-only fashions and allows for an understanding of the entire wool production process. Despite growing up on a sheep farm it was not until Mrs Arnold was 21 years old that she started working with wool at a serious level. “ I was actually embarking on a career as a professional bodyboarder. Growing up on a property next to Smiths Beach was probably a bad move by dad because I surfed twice a day so he couldn’t get much work out of me! I represented WA at a professional level in bodyboarding for three years and was state champ six times. I did however go to university and study surf science and this course highlighted my strength in business and management.” And so the transition from waves to wool was made. She moved back to the farm, started working at her parents’ store and became its buyer, with a focus on natural fibres because it is “better for people and the environment”. Mrs Arnold then set up a concept store, Boutique Eco, in Dunsborough and then two years later another in Margaret River. “We were able to reach many different demographics and capture the tourists while they were visiting the area,” Mrs Arnold said. “ Merino became our biggest niche and seller. The properties in Merino wool make it very easy to explain and sell a garment to the customer because you can guarantee quality. “We purchase clothes from manufacturers and we also design for our stores. Because we order so much from some of the companies we get our own choices put through, especially with the Australian-made garments – something we are very proud of. We stock a vast array of Australian-made products.” The Boutique Eco stores are also supporters of the Campaign for Wool. Mrs Arnold said both stores house the campaign’s point of sale material and support the campaign with help from AWI. And occasionally Mrs Arnold gets back to her grassroots as she leaves her stores and steps foot inside her parents’ shearing shed. Every annual shearing I do a bit of roustabouting and have a good laugh with the shearers. I am always going into the store and bringing out a Merino garment to show the guys just what’s happening in the fashion side of wool. They love being able to see what the end product is and I absolutely love being able to understand all spectrums of the Merino wool cycle.” More information: www.boutiqueeco.com.au “THE PROPERTIES IN MERINO WOOL MAKE IT VERY EASY TO EXPLAIN AND SELL A GARMENT TO THE CUSTOMER BECAUSE YOU CAN GUARANTEE QUALITY.” TEGAN ARNOLD