Aria Mullins grew up in the shearing sheds around Dannevirke. She spent many a Christmas school holiday working alongside her family as part of their shearing business. With shearing in her blood, it was a natural progression for her to eventually take up the challenge and opportunity to become involved in the business.
In 2009 Aria followed love to Perth and worked for a company called Landmark within the Livestock department. The call of home was strong though, and Aria returned to New Zealand taking up a position with Primary ITO as a Wool harvesting training advisor. In 2015 she returned to the family business, Paewai Mullins Shearing, and came into management the following year.
Aria is now a Director of Paewai Mullins Shearing, a fourth generation family business based in Dannevirke. They employ 20-30 people all year round and during the main shear, from December to March, employ an additional 50-60 staff, and provide accommodation. Aria sets the strategic vision for the business, and manages all the logistics from staff, HR, farmer and stakeholder relationships, vehicles and equipment. By providing in-shed trainers, Aria also ensures that the staff they employ have the opportunity to up-skill and improve on their skills.
"People are very important to the business. I am extremely passionate about people and driving positive change within the industry. We aim to provide a good professional service built on an ethos that builds people and creates great teams. This is a generational business so ensuring that it is sustainable and continues to be in a good place for whoever comes next. My Mum and Dad continue to be a huge support to me and really are my 'Go To' people."
Aria see's the importance of furthering her skill base and challenging herself. She is currently completing a Diploma in Agribusiness Management through Primary ITO. She is also within the cohort of the Darden Executive Education Programme, a short course in Entrepreneurship run through the University of Virginia. Aria found this to be an amazing experience and has signed up for the next programme in March. "Here I am a little shearing contractor among big corporates. It was interesting to provide an understanding of our industry to those who are completely unaware."
"Wool is my passion. I find it quite disheartening the state of the wool industry at the moment. This really impacts our farmers and in turn the business we are in. The sector needs more innovative ideas, given the amazing properties of wool, especially the health benefits wool can bring."
Aria, it is with strong rural leaders and advocates like you that will see the wool industry out in the public eye again. Thank you for sharing your story.