As we roll into another Father's Day, it's time to celebrate our dad, and the founder of Woolerina, Warwick!
Warwick is fondly known as 'Wazza' to his mates and his grandkids and, to us he is 'Daddio'! It's an honour for us to be able to work alongside Dad and to share his passion for the beautiful Merino fibre. We have many fond memories as kids of spending lots of time in Dad's office, the wool storage sheds and also of visiting client's shearing sheds; we definitely think it is these memories that set us up for our future alongside him at Woolerina!
Dad celebrated a milestone birthday this year (we aren't sharing which one!) and it has been a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on Dad's achievements over his career and for us to acknowledge how proud of him we are.
Dad joined the wool trade in 1975 as a trainee wool buyer and from his very first day, he knew he had found his true passion. After a short period, he was invited to join a French company buying for its wool processing plant in Roubaix in northern France. Dad gained extensive knowledge of not only the wool fibre, but also how this magical fibre is processed ready for spinning, knitting and weaving; in this role Warwick travelled across Australia to all the mainland wool auctions from Brisbane to Fremantle.
In 1980, with his love for wool well and truly entrenched and having a deep understanding of how the industry operated, Dad and Mum left Sydney and moved to Forbes where they established the first inland wool handling and brokerage centre, Jemalong Wool, which still exists today. Many people within the industry thought they were a bit mad however they were clearly onto something as today, wool is handled solely in regional areas and is only sold in three major centres - Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle.
In the early 2000's, and having moved on from Jemalong Wool, dad began working closely with a wool grower group, linking them with larger underwear manufacturers. Whilst these connections didn't develop further, Dad now had enough contacts to develop his own line of next-to-skin Merino clothing... and Woolerina was born!
Mum and Dad have always been so supportive of us both and, in 2009 following Penny's short career in nursing and having become frustrated with "the system" and working for NSW Health, Dad suggested Penny come and give him a bit of a hand at Woolerina until she worked out what direction she wanted to take in her career. Dad was being very generous as there probably wasn't really enough work for two people! Within 12 months though, the business had really started to grow and Dad and Penny were busy tripping around the countryside to many markets, festivals and events. It was pretty busy times but they both have many "fond"(!) memories of tripping around the countryside in the Woolerina van, staying in dodgy motels and meeting a whole heap of amazing customers, many who have become our friends. 13 years later, Penny is still here and continues to love being able to work with Dad.
Pip joined our team in 2015 after returning to Australia, following a six year stint in Canada. Just like Pen, Pip wasn't sure where she wanted to be or what she was going to do back in Australia. Pip's background was in marketing and so she had been providing the business some help from afar, upon her return she continued with this and again, just like Pen, her role in the business was quickly solidified and she never left!
Dad has seen many ups and downs in his career and time in the wool industry and we both see it as a real honour to be able to work alongside him, to share his passion and to continually learn from him. We also feel so lucky to have been part of the growth of Woolerina so that we can legitimately hold jobs within the business and to also have an amazing team of others working with us too.
Outside of work, Dad's support of his family is next level - helping in our gardens, doing random pickups ("can you please just go to the other side of Melbourne, while you're there, to pick up some furniture for me Dad?!"), and spending time with his four cute (we're only a little biased!) grandkids. Dad absolutely loves to share his knowledge of all sorts of things, including the stars and sky, his boy scout skills (which often give us a bit of a laugh!) and most of all his love.
So, we're wishing Wazza and all the dads and father-like figures a very Happy Father's Day for this Sunday!
Penny + Pippa xx