Pay-it-forward project CommonKind is sharing joy and warmth

People love to point out that Aotearoa is replete with sheep. Those inclined to do the maths would find there are about 200 of our four-legged friends for every New Zealand child experiencing material hardship. Seeing an opportunity in this sustainable local resource led pals Olive Riley and Kelly Olatunji to found CommonKind, a social enterprise that fills a common need through kindness. Up and running since August 2021, offering a high-quality homeware item to the public via a buy-one, gift-one model and selling directly to community partners has already enabled them to distribute 800-plus blankets, and they aim to support another 5000 Kiwi kids in the next financial year.

ABOVE In Sky (main image) and Sorbet (above), CommonKind’s Off-Kilter blanket is a contemporary interpretation of a nostalgic favourite.

Low-cost blankets tend to be made from synthetic fibres that can pose serious health problems for babies and young children due to their limited breathability. Warmth in sheep’s clothing, CommonKind’s blankets are crafted right here from naturally temperature-regulating, antibacterial, flame-resistant, biodegradable, 100% New Zealand wool — a better option from start to finish, paddock to person. Every ‘Kind’ blanket bought sees a ‘Common’ one gifted, collaborations with community organisations facilitating the delivery of the latter to Aotearoa’s most vulnerable. 

ABOVE Olive (left) and Kelly met at Massey university. Today, they collaborate from their respective bases in Perth and Pukerua Bay on the Kāpiti Coast.

While working on ways to expand their project to include other must-have textiles, with winter on the way Olive and Kelly are seeking additional partnerships with government and community initiatives to assist them in spreading the warm fuzzies. Head to the website if you can help or simply to set yourself up with a beautifully woven everyday essential you’ll love — and that a deserving little one will too.

Words Philippa Prentice

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