Jeremy Moon is the founder of a small company called Icebreaker that placed New Zealand’s merino wool on the map. And after 15 years, Icebreaker now has offices in eight countries, buys a quarter of New Zealand’s merino wool, and exports clothing to 30 countries with millions of customers around the world. His is a story of a young man who had a single experience that ignited his enthusiasm and changed his life forever.
Moon recalls: “When I started Icebreaker, I was 24, broke, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. But I was driven by a passion for what I saw was possible, and a belief that I could make it happen. That passion was ignited by a meeting with a merino sheep farmer. Across the dining table, he threw me a T-shirt made from a merino wool fabric he’d designed himself. I thought, ‘Wow! This is an amazingly beautiful, practical, natural material. This is a product I could sell around the world.’ I had no idea how a business based on merino wool could work, but I had a strong feeling that I could make it happen.“I buried myself for two months in my bedroom, setting out how I could build an international brand from New Zealand. This took vision.
“I screwed up the courage to quit my job and borrow seed money. The going was slow. It took five years to get a sense of what I was doing. Those years were pure desire and perseverance. I put in huge amounts of hard work and faced equally huge amounts of frustration and angst. I worked 70 to 100 hours a week. I had to commit myself totally to the business because if it failed, I would have been bankrupt. Never once did I lose my ability to see the big picture. I never doubted that it was possible to succeed. My mantra was ‘This will work if I don’t screw it up.’ I took full responsibility for my future.”