Ruth Rands, founder and CEO of Herd Wool and Wear in a felt hat in a forest

How It All Began

By Ruth Rands

Ruth Rands, founder and CEO of Herd Wool and Wear in a felt hat in a forest

I, Ruth, (hello) have spent the past two years deep in the worlds of sheep farming, fleece, wool, knitwear design, fashion news, sustainability and supply chains, and every twist and turn of the journey has shown an ever stronger case for a locally grown, processed and made knitwear brand - and that was even before the pandemic of recent months sent us all into our homes and heads and into a dramatic reassessment of what we need, what we own and what we buy.

A keen knitter since childhood, I was deeply inspired by time living in California, with their no-compromise approach to natural fibres and fluid approach to smart/casual and indoor/outdoor design.

I also discovered Fibreshed, one woman's mission to only buy locally grown, made and dyed clothes that has flourished into a movement of farmers, manufacturers, dyers, brands and citizens reconnecting with the land that serves us not just with food but with clothing.

On my return to the UK I was gobsmacked to uncover the strength of England's (and Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but their heritage is also uniquely regional) connection to wool and sheep farming, that all major towns had mills and were built on the wealth of wool. And that luckily for us we still have what is now one of the only remaining full circle wool processing supply chains in the world.

Then I discovered Bluefaced Leicester wool

While BFL wool is very fine, the finest of the British breeds, it is also lustrous with a long staple length. Silky with a slight sheen. Also extremely commonly found in England, not in flocks but most sheep farmers have a few as their genes make for fine strong lambs. The value of wool being so low given how synthetic fibres swept the knitwear market in the last 50 years it is almost a by-product of the sheep farming industry (something we intend to change, but more of that later on...)

Then I heard about regenerative agriculture

The most hopeful thing in our relationship with planet earth that I had ever heard. The idea that by using holistic methods in farming, we might be able to feed and clothe ourselves out of climate change... could it be possible? Much more of that another time...

I am now understanding better business

Which includes building a legal imperative into corporations to consider people and planet with equal weighting to profit. Engaging and respecting all stakeholders in the supply chain and wider ecosystem. Calculating impact throughout the product journey and for all the business functions. Considering how the product will be disposed of while in the design stage, and demonstrating accountability and an on-going commitment to improvement by being transparent with customers.

This will be a very long and extremely exciting journey and I'm delighted to have you along for the ride.  


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