When I was 24, I quit my research job and mortgaged my house to start Icebreaker and pioneer a totally new retail category: merino outdoor clothing. I was young, broke and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I was driven by a passion for a beautiful, natural product that the rest of the world didn’t know about yet.
Looking back, it sounds crazy to consider setting up an international business from one of the most geographically isolated countries in the world. But I always knew it could work as long as I didn’t screw it up.
I convinced my friend Michelle Mitchell to throw in her law career to join me, and we drove around New Zealand in a couple of beat-up Datsuns attempting to convince stores to buy the first ever Icebreaker range.
Those early garments came in an exciting choice of blue or white. The breakthrough came when we added colours, and then stripes.
I didn’t know much at first, but I did know how to listen. We talked to the experts to find out how to make clothes, how to use a warehouse, and how to deliver stuff on time.
Right from the start, I focused on developing narrow and deep relationships with a small number of key players — merino growers, manufacturers, retailer and staff. Our company ethos says it all: “It’s about our relationship with nature, and with each other”.
Our business model balances ecology and economy, and we’re driven by passion, vision and long-term thinking.
Now, we’re sold in more than 3000 stores in 37 countries, and we have a network of 350 talented people working to make sure we stay the passionate world leader in merino.
For more about Jeremy, check out his website at www.jeremymoon.me