A container load of Purely Dorset premium wool duvets arrived in the US this week for sale by a new company.
This is the first major export order for King’s Auckland-based daughter Julia Paul, who owns the Purely Dorset business.
They have licensed a new company in the US to market their duvets. A group of San Diego University MBA graduates were so impressed with the product they set up their own company to do the promotion and marketing.
Selling into top-end markets is a turnaround from the time King’s wool was discounted because it was very bulky and very light.
“I was pressing this Dorset wool and you would only get 130kg into the bale compared to 180kg in a standard bale of Romney wool. The yields weren’t very high either and I felt as though we were getting a discount for the wool.
“Then Julia, a chartered accountant, set up an on-line business Crisp Homes to sell linens. She said why can’t we develop a duvet from our wool?”
The duvets are manufactured in Christchurch, a relationship which got off to a shaky start thanks to hold-ups due to damage from the Christchurch earthquake.
Before manufacturing the product is treated to ensure it is machine washable, although King doesn’t recommend a spin drier. “Dry them naturally.”
That way the product has integrity, and he thinks of the duvet as a 20 year investment.
He and his wife Bev have been using their duvet for nearly two years now, and “we don’t have anything else”.
Keeping it in the family, Paul’s architect husband Clifford designed the logo for the business.
Now King is hoping the venture can expand further than using all their wool and buying the wool from a Hawke’s Bay friend’s flock of 800 sheep.
He’d like to be able to buy all the Dorset wool grown in New Zealand for the company to turn into duvets.
He’s hoping the growing duvet business will mean his Ruataha Poll Dorset stud will expand from its current 300 ewes. He’s been running the stud since 1983, and on December 7 has an on-farm sale of 80 rams.