Philippa Wright is the type of woman that effortlessly leads from the front - no matter if she is wearing classy heels, muddy gumboots, or her flash wool sneakers. As the owner of Wright Wool in Waipukurau, Central Hawkes Bay, Philippa and her team buy and sell wool on behalf of wool growers. She supplies consignments to Wool Exporters and creates opportunities to market wool directly to manufacturers.
Like many others in New Zealand, Philippa grew up with the wool industry. She was born in the South Island where wool was a prerequisite to fending off the cold and has always understood its value. Her father was a wool buyer and still works in the industry with her company preparing lots for sale and attending the auctions.
As Philippa first entered the male dominated industry as a newly qualified wool classer in 1979 she found that if she hid the fact she was female by signing her applications P Wright, she landed more interviews.
“After two years working in the sheds in the South Island, I finally landed a job as a wool classer with a broker. They thought I would last for two years at most and then get married and have kids, but I was determined to show the industry I had the staying power and that I had something of value to offer” Philippa recalls. “37 years later I do have two kids but I stuck around, was eventually offered a partnership and I now own that business.”
It wasn’t Philippa’s dream to own the company. In fact she laughed at the initial offer, but the shoe fits. She understands the whole process from sheep’s back to scour and is an innovative business owner. She thrives on finding a win-win for every side of the contract, creating healthy business contacts. She intentionally builds a motivated team around her and expertly builds lasting relationships with her grower-clients. Most importantly, she earns their respect as she deeply believes in their product.
This respect extends throughout the industry. Philippa currently is on the Campaign for Wool Global Executive and holds positions on The Campaign for Wool NZ board, International Wool Textiles Association, NCNZWI, and NZWBA. In 2016 she was a finalist for the New Zealand Women of Influence awards and in 2017 won the New Zealander of the Year Local Hero Award .
She values the global relationships she has built and takes every opportunity to promote her favourite fibre - from the HRH Prince of Wales to her social media contacts. Philippa also recognises the value of developing the next generation of wool lovers. Students have began their career with a summer position at Wright Wool and landed in an ag career path they never would have imagined. She proudly champions other wool businesses through her home, clothing and gift purchasing decisions.
“My whole career has been dedicated to this industry. I firmly believe in the versatility, sustainability and the sheer fabulous nature of our wonder fibre wool.”
Philippa, thank you for creating space for many of us to follow in your footsteps within the wool industry. We look forward to watching where you lead next!