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Beyond the Bale : March 2013
14 OFF-FARM Establishing and maintaining strong and healthy relationships with Woolmark licensees and textile partners across the world is an integral part of AWI's role in the promotion of Australian wool in global markets. AWI country manager for Benelux (Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg), Ingrid Oomen, is one of the many AWI Key Account Managers (KAMs) in its 18 international offices dedicated to promoting Australian wool. It is not only the countless hours of Ms Oomen's time which makes her such a valuable asset to AWI, but also the pure passion she has for Australian wool. "I promote Australian wool at every opportunity I can -- both in and out of regular work hours. It is something I strongly believe in," she says. "We have such a beautiful story to tell. From the woolgrowers and Australian Merino sheep, through to the unbelievable variety of amazing garments designers create whilst working with wool. In this day and age where consumers buy many products which only have a short life, it is important to show there is a quality fibre that can last and stand the test of time. "My colleagues and I indeed tell a marketing story -- but the great thing is Promoting Australian wool that this story is true. We do not have to make things better than they are, because wool truly is a unique natural fibre that can give so much pleasure to one's life." Ms Oomen joined the company in March 2010 and as well as being the country manager for Benelux, she last year also became the AWI category manager for the interiors sector. Her dedication and hard work on behalf of Australian woolgrowers was recently rewarded when she was awarded the title of 2012 AWI KAM of the Year. AWI's KAMs across the world work to increase the demand for all types of Australian wool: from the premium, finer- micron fibre found in the bespoke tailors of Savile Row, through to the broader micron wool with unique attributes suited to bedding and interiors. Education about wool's benefits is high on the agenda, which AWI's KAMs deliver on a number of levels, including through: marketing collateral point of sale promotional material and retailer education information to retail buyers on the latest available innovations presenting The Wool Lab -- seasonal trends to designers, brands and retailers to inspire their use of wool assistance in the technical testing of products to ensure quality assurance. Global campaigns such as the Campaign for Wool are implemented thanks to the efforts of AWI's international network. According to Ms Oomen, a large part of her role at AWI involves the education and training of designers, consumers and retail staff about the unique benefits of wool. She said when she started working with AWI she realised that the knowledge of wool was very poor, particularly with the younger generation. "So I started approaching the main fashion universities and explaining to the students about Australian Merino wool. My aim was to change the misconceptions that wool was thick and itchy and to show the endless possibilities of fine Merino wool." Ms Oomen works closely with the fashion industry in this region, despite all her Woolmark licensees coming from the interiors and apparel care sectors. She said she felt very proud that Christian Wijnants, the winner of the International Woolmark Prize, hailed from her region. More information: www.woolmark.com March 2013 BEYOND THE BALE AWI Key Account Manager of the Year for 2012 Ingrid Oomen (centre in blue) -- at the opening of the Campaign for Wool '21 Wool Masters' exhibition in Amsterdam with 21 leading Dutch designers. FAST FACTS l Country Manager for Benelux, Ingrid Oomen, was awarded the title of 2012 AWI Key Account Manager (KAM) of the Year. l AWI KAMs build and maintain crucial relationships with key businesses and designers. l AWI's international network of offices plays an integral role in the promotion of Australian wool.