It has been a history-making week for Roberts Ltd.
After launching our collaborative marketing initiative 'Natural Tasmanian Wool' in China in December 2019, we have been working tirelessly to best position the brand for long-term sustainable success.
Within one month of the launch, the first order was placed through Natural Tasmanian Wool.
Since then, we have seen the wool market hit five-plus-year lows, international trade borders have been closed and processing mills have shut due to COVID-19 restictions.
It has been a time to take feedback from all components of the supply chain, from growers, processors, retailers and through to consumers.
The clear consensus is that there has never been such strong demand for ethically, sustainably produced and fully traceable wool from the farm to the fashion house.
Buyers of woollen products - whether made-to-measure suits, high-performance active and adventure wear or luxurious home furnishings - want to connect with the farmers who produce the fibre.
For this reason, Roberts Ltd this week informed its highly-valued woolgrowers that the Natural Tasmanian Wool Grower Charter would be tightened even further to guarantee global best-practice standards.
All farmers will need to be independently audited and accredited under the rigorous Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), as well as The Schneider Group's Authentico Integrity Scheme.
This means that only non-mulesed - or ceased mulesed - wool will be part of selling requirements through the Natural Tasmanian Wool brand.
We are also investigating world-first technology to enable wool to be traced from the farm to the fashion house to: prove provenance; better tell the stories of our innovative growers; and enable life-long connections between consumers and farmers.
So, for our wool growers, there is more work ahead to meet the RWS parameters to verify their unwavering commitment to sustainability, ethical production and animal welfare excellence.
The feedback this week has been overwhelming, with many growers calling to confirm they will: work toward RWS accreditation; stop mulesing; and ensure their wool clip can be marketed as part of Natural Tasmanian Wool.
They are determined to ensure the brand attributes of Tasmanian wool are recognised globally as the world's best.
They recognise the benefits of regional and collaborative marketing.
And they are committed to Australia's wool industry.
What has inspired me most is how positive and steadfast these growers are, despite the tough market conditions.
What could have been viewed as hurdles have instead been regarded as challenges and opportunities.
We know that wool will be back. And by goodness, Tasmanian growers and Natural Tasmanian Wool will be ready.