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A couple of Honest Wolves

We had the chance to chat with one lovely half of Honest Wolf, Sophie Hurley. Based amongst the rolling hills and the most beautiful high country, Sophie and her partner Sam run a business creating sustainable bags straight from their farm of happy ewes. With two wonderful children, a business and a farm to run we're grateful to have this moment with Sophie.

Keep scrolling to read our full interview.

Honest Wolf launched three years ago and operates from your third generation farm at Papanui Estate. Can you tell us what it’s like to live and work in such a beautiful, remote part of New Zealand rich in family history?

It’s pretty special. Not only is the high country incredibly beautiful; we’re surrounded by rolling hills and happy sheep, but living on the Estate has given us such an appreciation for nature and its resources.
We’re very remote and commuting for work is tricky, especially with little ones in tow, so I feel grateful to be able to operate the Honest Wolf brand right here from the farm.

There are so many different ways to utilise New Zealand wool. What led you to start the brand with bags?

The idea for bags came about just as New Zealand was phasing out the use of plastic shopping bags. At that same time, Sam and I were trying to think of different ways we could use our wool. Wool prices have been in decline for many years, but, at a point in 2018 it wasn’t looking great. Our wool had always been used for carpets and with the price diving, we were looking for a better return.

After coming home from the supermarket one day I said to Sam, how about a reusable shopping bag out of wool? Sturdy enough to hold groceries and be hauled in and out of the car, it sounded like a good idea. So our first product was the Casual Shopper, and from there we saw how the wool could also be perfect for other styles, like the Weekender for long-haul travel.

Juggling a business with young children can be tricky. As a busy mum, how and where do you find time for yourself?

At this time I think we just have to realise that it doesn’t often happen! My children are my priority so it’s them then the business and there isn’t much left in the day. What I thrive off is exercise so I try where I can to go for farm walks and runs with the kids in tow so I can have time with them but also get my exercise in! We also ensure to plan holidays to have things to look forward to. Living and working in the same place can come with its challenges of never ‘turning off’ so Sam and I ensure we get off the farm frequently to ‘turn off’!

What’s your favourite Honest Wolf product, and does this change over time?

It does change! At the moment with two young kids, I can’t go past our Backpack. It’s the perfect size and is so comfortable to wear. The detachable wet bag is perfect for muddy shoes or wet clothing, and it also allows me to be handsfree – ideal for juggling kids in and out of the car.

The Papanui Farm is home to 25,000 happy, healthy sheep who are sustainably farmed - what other sustainable practices are built into the Honest Wolf design ethos?

Alongside our biodegradable, renewable, and best of all, sustainable Papanui Estate wool, we work with Native New Zealand Leather. We have partnered with New Zealand Luxury Group, who work with the same ethical methods as us. It’s robust, takes on a defined shape, and it’s 100% Chrome-free.

A recent milestone was opening your flagship store in Hunterville. How has this enhanced the connection with your community?

Opening the store was a really significant milestone for us. It’s a massive step for the brand, and I love that we are keeping things local and giving back to our community with much-needed career pathways. It’s always nice to meet our customers in store, hear their direct feedback and get to know them a little more over a coffee while they browse.

It’s so important to champion local businesses and makers - you use locally sourced leather in many of your products. Can you tell us about a few other local businesses you love to support?

We showcase a few different local brands we love in our Hunterville store and especially love to support female-led rural businesses. One of these being Jessica Flora, who creates beautiful small batch clothing. Another brand within the store is Wilson Dorset, who’s homeware products are made from ethically sourced New Zealand sheepskin.

Quick-fire Q’s

Name a scent that invokes a special memory?

My Jo Malone perfume from my wedding day that my bridesmaids gave me. It takes me right back to the special day!

A daily ritual you can’t live without?

Morning or evening walk around the farm. Keeps things in perspective amongst the chaos of the day!

Favourite dish and where would you like to eat it?

Mums food in our family home in Wanaka. Whatever she is cooking, I’m there for it!

What’s your favourite space in your home?

We have recently renovated and we have a sun seat that is just asking to be sat in with the sun streaming right in. My fave place to have a morning coffee!

Your most-loved Ashley & Co scent?

Love the Home Perfumes! I have a few around my house and love them all.