Noble way to offset the drought with own clothing label

New wool clothing label honours lost father

Wool
FARM DIVERSIFICATION: Alice and Steve Noble and son, Timothy, wearing some of the woollen clothes in their new Hugh Charles label range.

FARM DIVERSIFICATION: Alice and Steve Noble and son, Timothy, wearing some of the woollen clothes in their new Hugh Charles label range.

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Steve and Alice Noble from Victoria's East Gippsland have launched their own wool clothing label to add an extra income stream to their business.

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A young East Gippsland couple last week launched their own wool clothing label with high hopes the new venture will in time generate enough revenue to allow them to focus full-time on their farm business.

Steve and Alice Noble have both had to work off-farm after borrowing around $800,000 to buy and stock 105 hectares of land near Steve's family farm at Briagolong run by his father, Barry.

They have been hammered by drought for the past three years including the driest year on record in 2018.

"I don't think we've broken 400mm in the past three years (in 600mm-650mm country). It's been pretty bad," Steve Noble said.

Alice, 32, had been working as an animal nutritionist and feed sales representative but has taken a break to look after their first child, Timothy, now nine months old.

She was originally from Willow Tree in north western NSW and was 10-years-old when her father, Will Tanner, was killed in a horse riding accident in 1997.

He was a much-loved representative rugby player for NSW country and was also carrying on the Tanner family's famous Hillcrest Hereford stud before his tragic death.

Alice now owns the Hillcrest prefix but her dream of building up her stud herd has had to be put on hold because of the drought.

KEEP SMILING: Timothy Noble sports a Hugh Charles label woollen beanie.

KEEP SMILING: Timothy Noble sports a Hugh Charles label woollen beanie.

Steve, 36, works as a fertiliser consultant with Gibsons Groundspread and also helps out on his father's farm.

He has also spent the past 18 months planning and preparing for the launch of their Hugh Charles clothing label.

Hugh is the second name of Alice's father and Charles the second name of Steve's father.

He gained an insight into the apparel business while providing clothing to sporting clubs but the margins were tight and decided he would have a better chance of making more profit with his own label.

They design the clothes together and have them made in China. Steve would like to manufacture the range in Australia but the high costs would make the garments too expensive at the moment.

So far wool beanies and flannel bush shirts (a cross between a shirt and jumper) are available online but they plan to widen the range including products made from cotton and leather.

Steve is hoping the label will gain enough support for him to convince independent stores in country areas to stock the range.

"I have delusions of grandeur and would one day like to see our clothes on the racks of Myer (department stores)," he said.

The Nobles are hoping to eventually run 1000 sheep (up from the present 250) for prime lamb production and 50 head of cattle on their farm, Verona.

And they want to see their clothes being worn by people across the bush.

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