41 years on from being established, Untouched World is still using sustainable practices to produce natural garments that have been worn by the likes of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Peri Drysdale, Untouched World’s founder, stresses the importance of helping people and the environment, instead of being solely focused on growth.
Drysdale saw that changes needed to happen around how humans treat the planet, and she has been able to make a successful business that heavily values sustainability and quality, whilst creating a positive, supportive working environment for her staff. To Drysdale, every environmental change matters, no matter how small or insignificant it may appear.
“Our view, which goes through our foundation as well, is that every one person and every one company can make a difference.”
Untouched World began initially as a very small, humble shop that sold handknit items for 1-3 year olds. At that time, Drysdale was an ambitious woman in her 20s, who wanted to increase the value of NZ wool.
However, Drysdale also wanted to include New Zealand’s clean, green values into her business and her garments. Considering the negative effects of climate change and global warming, these environmentalist values are very important to Drysdale.
“I wanted to wrap around those items [the garments] our country values: clean, clear water, blue skies, green grass, and this beautiful, relaxed, open culture and lifestyle.”
Committed to always minimising her carbon footprint, Drysdale is constantly looking for more ways to maximise sustainability. For instance, Untouched World’s garments don’t contain any synthetics, since they are created using oil. Drysdale’s firm also hasn't buried or burnt a garment in 40 years, running a virtually zero waste operation.
But Drysdale is also focused on maintaining a good work environment, sending workers out for walks every day, in company time, and conducting work in a building that offers a cafe, lots of sunlight, an outdoor area for meetings, and the retail store on-site so staff can hear what customers have to say about their garments to maximise improvement and development.
Untouched World has now grown into a much bigger business. Concerning sales, Australia is a fantastic domestic market for Drysdale, and the United States is becoming her next biggest market. Her garments are also sold online to 49 different countries.
Why Untouched World is NZ made
Drysdale likes being New Zealand made because she appreciates the high amount of control that her business has over the production of their garments, ensuring that the negative aspects of producing clothes are minimised and/or eradicated as much as possible.
“We can control the quality, the environmental inputs and outputs, and the social inputs and outputs. That’s very, very hard to find internationally.”