Campaigning for Wool

Since the beginning, Tambo Teddies have been created from the best Australian woollen sheepskins, they were even stuffed with wool in the early days. But despite being an Australian made, quality sheepskin product Tambo Teddies was denied the right to use the Australian Woolmark.

The body responsible for the promotion of wool in the 1990s, the Australian Wool Research and Promotion (AWRAP) considered that the woolmark had a vital role in generating demand for quality woollen clothing and other products, and if the woolmark was extended to ‘certain other items’ it would risk devaluing the symbol.

Yes, the ‘certain other items’ included our beautiful Tambo Teddy Bears. An AWRAP spokesperson was quoted as saying, ‘if someone was to look at purchasing a $700 suit with the woolmark and also saw the same symbol on a teddy bear, it could create an adverse impression.’

This attitude was very disappointing for the Tambo Teddies founders, Charm, Mary & Helen, as one of their key goals when they started Tambo Teddies was to promote Australian wool. Gathering a petition with over 3000 signatures did nothing to further their case with the Australian Wool Corporation (AWC), their efforts just met a brick wall of denial.

When we look back at this decision it is even more perplexing considering this was a very tough time in the wool industry, there was a massive stockpile, woolgrowers were being levied 25% and the AWC’s annual report recorded research indicating that under 35 year-olds were very unaware of the benefits of wool. The report goes on to say, ‘Wool’s image and the products in which it is presented to the consumer must therefore be shifted from the present traditional, formal and expensive’.

A google search of the wool mark and its use in today’s market finds the company claiming that ‘the Woolmark brand provides a unique, global fibre quality assurance scheme for manufacturers and consumers alike. No other fibre offers this type of scheme.’ Offering options including registration for Woolmark, Woolmark Blend or Wool Blend certification, there is a list of 29 pages of Woolmark licensees.

 A search of the list identifies that most of the companies listed are overseas businesses and some seem to have no connection to wool, many don’t display their woolmark certification, and many have sheepskin products such as footwear, skins, blankets and other sheepskin products. Seeing the range of products supported by the Woolmark and the list of businesses who seem to have little connection to the wool industry really makes us wonder why our bears aren’t adorned with this symbol!

We think it might be time to put our case forward again- stay tuned.