Happy Ottieversary! In 2 Years We've Gone From an Idea to a Best Selling Merino Brand
Yep, we’ve turned 2! Woohoo!
Thanks everyone so so so much for the support over these two years. If it weren’t for our customers going ‘hmm, I’m willing to test our this new Aussie made kid on the block’ we wouldn’t have gotten here.
And where have we come from and where are we now? Let’s take a little trip down memory lane.
The idea for Ottie Merino was born in late 2019. We’d been hikers for yonks, merino wears for donkeys years, and couldn’t quite find a t-shirt that we wanted to wear all the time. We’d been through all the brands and were constantly disappointed. Cuts were mostly athletic and a bit too ‘baselayery’ for our liking—sometimes you don’t want to be smothered by your tee. Durability wasn’t great. Most stuff was made overseas. We couldn’t quite find the perfect top. Especially one made locally in Australia.
So, with backgrounds in the outdoor gear industry, brand marketing, and e-commerce (Paul) and operations and strategy (Richard) we set out to create the best merino t-shirt we could. Something made locally from quality materials. Something that was a more more relaxed for normal body types. A bit longer to avoid ride up when wearing a pack—this must be a big big issue for taller people, we thought. Ultimately, something hikers wanted but couldn't currently get.
So we went out to the community over at Hiking in Australia and New Zealand and asked the question. “What do you want in the PERFECT merino tee?” And the feedback rolled on in.
Obviously, we couldn’t incorporate everything or we’d end up with something that looked like that car Homer Simpson designed. But a lot of the feedback played to what we were thinking. Women, for example, were sick of the ‘shrink it, pink it’ tactic that is so often used in the outdoor apparel space. They wanted neutral colours (the same colours as we used for the men's product), length, and a relaxed fit rather than an aggressive tapered cut as is so often the case.
We pressed go, after months of product development, on 31st July 2020. Smack band in the middle of a lockdown in Melbourne. In fact, a lot of our product testing had to be in an ‘urban hiking’ environment as we weren’t allowed to travel to the hills.
Our first pre-sale on short sleeve merino tees went off with a bang. We surpassed our target in days and ended up having to book additional runs with our manufacturer to service the orders. And those runs, due to the restrictions on industry at the time, were all delayed but our fantastic customers stuck with us and waited until the end of October when the first products rolled off the line. And, they told us it was worth the wait.
Since then things haven’t slowed. We have sold thousands of our flagship short sleeve merino tee. We've amassed hundreds of glowing reviews—and a handful of negative ones but fortunately none of them say ‘hey guys, your product is shit - quit now!’ And, increasingly folk were asking us to do other products.
Next cab off the rank was a lightweight long sleeve top. For a while there in early 2021, it felt like we were getting a message, comment, text, or call a day asking us to do this. So, we bit the bullet and developed a long sleeve. This launched in May 2021 and went off harder than our short sleeve at first. It’s remains a popular top for both warm and cool conditions ever since.
And then it was undies. And then thermals. We also struck up a partnership with Humphrey Law to sell their awesome merino hiking socks. Socks hasn’t really been on the radar, you see, so we thought why not just buddy up with a fellow great Australian made, Ethical Clothing Australia accredited brand and bring their great product—which we had been customers of for years—to our community?
So, here we now are, a couple of years down the track, having achieved far more than we could have ever expected. Short sleeve tees, long sleeve tees, merino boxers and briefs, thermal tops and bottoms, and long and short hiking socks. We have several thousand awesome customers. We have over 600 fantastic reviews with an average rating of 4.9/5 stars. We’ve been featured in We Are Explorers, The Bushwalking Blog, and Australian Hiker. Ol’ mate Hamish Blake is a happy customer. We’ve done our bit to ensure the Australian manufacturing sector isn’t only alive but thriving. The wonderful people that make your tees and undies are paid a living wage and work under great conditions. The wool we use comes from sheep that are subjected to the best welfare conditions thanks to our supply chain being RWS certified. And, there is so so much more to come.
Thanks again for your support and helping us get to our second Ottieversary! We're so so glad to have become your new favourite merino.