When you are a startup business your spark is the passion for what you are doing along with a big vision of what you are producing. This is the same for farmers.
Fashion hat brand Will & Bear have applied this ethos of passion and vision for producing an Australian hat that is practical, long-lasting and for the Australian outdoors.
Founders Alex(Bear) and Loz(Will) have always focused on producing products that can faithfully tell origin stories, this means partnering with farmers that farm sustainability and support biodiversity on working sheep farms in Australia.
This sounds easy for a fashion manufacturer to achieve. However, as Alex explains, that it is difficult to find out where supplies come from in the fashion industry – especially when starting out.
"We had to dig deep to find the source of materials we wanted to use in our hats. We relied on suppliers to verify their materials. The fashion manufacturing system is like a black box, and there is no easy pathway to find farmers who can verify their farming practice," says Alex.
The Natural Capital Buyers Club is an extension of the new and groundbreaking Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting research project. With buyers like Will & Bear, the Natural Capital Buyers Club aims to understand what information buyers need to make it easier for them to purchase from farmers on the journey to improve and prove their environmental impact.
Chief Executive Officer of biodiversity impact solutions not-for-profit Odonata Sam Marwood, explains why buyer engagement is essential. "Rather than hoping that farm produce buyers will be eager to purchase from farmers who have annual farm-scale natural capital accounts, we are engaging buyers from the very start of the project."
The accounts will provide farmers with verifiable information about the natural capital on their farm (e.g., soil, vegetation, biodiversity). Farmers can use the accounts to improve their management of natural capital and farm performance. and has the potential to empower producers to leverage their sustainability credentials for commercial benefits.
"By the end of the project, we plan to have many buyers who are active champions of Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounts and are actively integrating the accounts into their buying processes and working with Farm-scale NCA farmers," says Sam.
Although currently a research project, Alex thinks it is essential to be part of building the natural capital accounts because they need this information to guide how to buy sustainable and ethical materials. He believes if Will & Bear had this information right from the start of their business, they would have a more robust business due to the confidence they have in their supply chain.
"Having a sustainable supply chain will enable more investment into our business, too," says Alex. "We can make Natural Capital Accounting more fashionable and digestible to consumers – this is the gateway to mainstream Natural Capital.”