Odonata Foundation have partnered with Will & Bear to create hats made from regenerative sheep farming practices that are also protecting the native Eastern Barred Bandicoot
The partnership aims to double the population of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from 1,500 to 3,000 on the farm within two years
The ‘Percy hat’ supports regenerative farming and biodiversity projects from Australian wool growing properties like Tiverton, with an aim to increase biodiversity for landholders
What makes a good hat a great hat? Is it the way it looks, the colour, texture or its ability to keep the sun off your face? And what about its impact on the planet?
Odonata is a foundation focused on biodiversity and conservation solutions building resilient ecosystems around the country. The foundation recently partnered with Australian hat producers Will & Bear to create a hat that encompasses everything you want from a hat while also creating positive environmental outcomes. Their new Percy Hat collection is made from 100% Australian wool sourced from regenerative sheep farming practices that have also created a safe haven for the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot, enhancing their population numbers and regenerating native biodiversity.
We sat down with Sam Marwood, CEO of Odonata Foundation to discuss the Will & Bear partnership, how this project is supporting Australia’s threatened biodiversity and how we can ensure fashion and farming are beneficial, rather than detrimental, for the planet.
“Odonata Foundation is an environmental not-for-profit that is empowering businesses to create a positive environmental legacy in financially sustainable ways. We work with businesses and organisations to develop ideas and innovative solutions that are beyond accreditation frameworks and are truly building biodiversity into their business."
"We have recently partnered with Will & Bear and this partnership is centered around boosting the populations of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and encouraging regenerative farming practices."
"Odonata’s sanctuary for threatened species at the Tiverton Farm is integrated into a fully functional sheep farming operation. The benefits of having small ground-dwelling native animals on a farm such as the Eastern Barred Bandicoot are immense - they play a crucial role in landscape regeneration by creating and enhancing soil health, if they are safe from predators in a fenced and secure environment. The improvements to soil health proliferate native grasses. It is logical that sheep that eat this grass become healthier and the wool becomes higher in quality."
"This world first in regenerative agriculture is unique to Australia and is what first attracted Will & Bear- a fashion brand designing and creating beautiful wool hats. Together, we want to ensure that fashion and farming can coexist with biodiversity."
Our vision is to end extinction in Australia. We do this by empowering businesses to incorporate nature into what they do, in ways that are mutually beneficial to commercial gain. We call it the ‘business of biodiversity’.
"The Eastern Barred Bandicoot, or as we also call them ‘soil engineers’, digs and turns tonnes of soil every year enhancing the nutrient exchange and habitat quality and thus can restore degraded landscapes. Given all these benefits of bandicoots, Odonata introduced them to Tiverton - a 1,000 ha predator-free working Merino sheep farm in Victoria's Western District."
"Tiverton is demonstrating the leading edge in regenerative agriculture and threatened species conservation, having remarkable success in producing superior super-fine wool, through the amazing work of the bandicoots in restoring soil carbon and proliferating native grasses."
"In October 2022, we partnered with local Australian hat designers, Will & Bear, to launch their new Percy Hat and support regenerative farming and biodiversity projects for Australian wool growing properties like Tiverton, with an aim to increase biodiversity for landholders. The hat is made from 100% Australian wool and will be sourced from the same sheep that share the land with the Eastern Barred Bandicoot."
"We began working together to not only use the Odonata wool to make the Percy hats, but also to explore all the ways Odonata can support Will & Bear in achieving B-corp certification, and to embed positive environmental values and projects in all aspects of their business. A brand and marketing partnership created the opportunity for Will & Bear to sponsor the Tiverton sanctuary and their love and connection with the Eastern Barred Bandicoots grew as they learned and experienced these amazing animals first-hand at our sanctuaries."
"Through this partnership, we have a combined mission to bring back the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from the brink of extinction and double their population numbers on the farm from 1,500 to 3,000 in the next two years, thus lifting its status from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’."
"We use the Odonata 7Cs impact framework to undertake planning, monitoring and continue to grow our positive impact across every element. Such regenerative farming practices will benefit the people, planet and profit by:
Increasing Eastern Barred Bandicoot population numbers and protecting biodiversity
Increasing soil health and proliferating native grasses
Improving sheep health and thus the quality of wool
Creating better returns for farmers and landholders
Creating profitability for businesses
Developing circular supply chains
"Odonata is a tiny organisation and we plan to stay that way. We want to work with and through our partners. We need more businesses to help us achieve the goal of ending extinction. There is an opportunity to have a real impact for even small and medium businesses like Will & Bear, as well as for big visionary businesses we work with - they buy their own sanctuary, we help them run it as a farm and wildlife sanctuary, while offsetting their carbon and creating circular economy opportunities and networks. It is transformative."
"We are inviting and challenging business leaders who want to do something tangible, innovative, and engaging to save Australian native animals. It’s not just about accreditation, it’s about engaging yourself, your staff and your clients in something bigger and more inspiring than they imagined.