From woolshed to bed – two sisters spin their homeware dreams

After leaving life as a veterinarian and the corporate world, sisters Kate Cullwick and Prue Watson were looking for a new business venture to combine their talents and showcase the best of the family farm.

Kate and her husband Jeremy Cullwick worked as vets practising in Dannevirke before moving to Jeremy’s family sheep and beef farm, Tapahia, 30 minutes south of the Waipukurau township where they live with their kids Oscar and Bess. His parents bought the Central Hawke’s Bay farm nearly 50 years ago, with Jeremy and Kate working for them for seven years before taking over its day to day running five years ago.

In 2017, Kate teamed up with her sister Prue to start an online homeware business, designed to fit in with family life, which now makes use of lambswool from the farm. While Jeremy and Oscar head off to dip some sheep, Kate explains how Foxtrot Home began.

After hanging up her vet instruments and becoming a mother, Kate and Prue decided to join entrepreneurial forces and start a new business. Prue was wanting a change of pace from her corporate city job and Kate had just sold her small business making lampshades.

They wanted to switch things up and that’s when they stumbled across the idea of selling linen and eventually ended up releasing an organic French flax linen and lambswool bedding range.

Wool felt like a natural next step for the sisters who had fleeces on their doorstep begging to be made into bedding. The wool stacked in bales at Tapahia gets sent up the road to the wool scourers in Napier. It then gets shipped to Wellington and processed into yarn and dyed with the colours handpicked by Kate and Prue.

With all this talk of fabrics, we head down the hallway and into Kate’s home office. On the table sits a sewing machine, parcels ready for sending and stacks of natural linen and woollen blankets.

The sisters are passionate about doing more to spread the word about this special wonder fibre into the world. A year on from Cyclone Gabrielle, Kate says she feels lucky they’ve had business success and really believes in the power of community.

She says Foxtrot Home wants to continue using their platform to promote the work of Rural Women New Zealand and the charities I AM Hope and Meat the Need.

Running Tapahia has also opened doors to new ventures like buying Kate’s family farm in Gisborne.

“We’ve also ended up purchasing Waimata Angus, up the Waimata valley,” Jeremy says.


First published by Radio New Zealand.