How Icebreaker began
IN 1994, A CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH A SHEEP CHANGED JEREMY MOON’S LIFE
An American girlfriend introduced Jeremy to Brian Brackenridge, a merino sheep farmer she’d stayed with while hitchhiking around New Zealand. Across the table, Brian threw Jeremy a prototype thermal tee-shirt made from 100% merino wool.
“It felt soft and sensual, looked lustrous and was totally natural,” says Jeremy. “It was nothing like the wool I had grown up with, which was heavy and scratchy. And you could throw this stuff in the washing machine.”
Jeremy, then a 24-year-old marketing graduate, wondered if he could sell enough of the prototype fabric to visit his girlfriend in the US. But when he wore the tee-shirt in the outdoors, he became so enthusiastic about merino’s potential that he never saw his girlfriend again – she was jilted for a sheep (actually, a whole flock of them).
Working from his HQ – his bedroom – Jeremy wrote a business plan with the crazily ambitious goal of developing the world’s first merino layering system for the outdoors, and creating a global business in the process.
Synthetics dominated outdoor clothing, and you could barely give merino away. “Don’t talk to me about wool. Wool is dead,” a buyer told Jeremy on his first sales call.